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Advent of Digital Humanities Will Make English Departments Pointless — New Republic

Don’t overreact to the headline, which is the internal headline the New Republic put in its <title> tags. The headline on the page itself is not much better: “In the Near Future, Only Very Wealthy Colleges Will Have English Departments.” Both versions overhype and (in my opinion) misrepresent the author’s thesis, which is actualy “Only wealthy institutions will be able to afford the luxury of faculty devoted to studying written…

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What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

Generally, it is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper that leads to the production of ‘old book smell’. Paper contains, amongst other chemicals, cellulose, and smaller amounts of lignin. Both of these originate from the trees the paper is made from; finer papers will contain less lignin than, for example, newsprint. In trees, lignin helps bind cellulose fibres together, keeping the wood stiff; it’s also responsible for paper yellowing…

Amazon’s Tactics Confirm Its Critics’ Worst Suspicions

This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we’re seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company’s willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books — authors, publishers, but mainly customers. Here’s the back story: In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette, Amazon began taking down preorder buttons for many Hachette titles. It has also…