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Thursday News: Shakespeare’s alleged dictionary digitized, cellphones increase literacy, Amazon Prime...

Shakespeare’s Dictionary? Skepticism Abounds. – Count me in on the side of the skeptics. Two booksellers buy a 1580 four-language dictionary on eBay (eBay!!) in 2008, and now claim that it’s Shakespeare’s personal dictionary. If you want to know about the authentication process that will now be undertaken, check out this article in the Chronicle. If you want to see the digitized dictionary, check it out here.

In addition to analyzing the handwriting and marginal marks used by the annotator, the Folger experts wrote, researchers will ask questions like “How many of the words underlined or added in the margins of this copy of the Alvearie are used by Shakespeare and Shakespeare alone, as opposed to other early-modern writers? Further, how many of the words that are not marked or underlined in this copy of Baret are nevertheless present in Shakespeare’s works?” –Chronicle of Higher Education

Cellphones ignite a ‘reading revolution’ in poor countries – UNESCO has released their report based on an enormous, and enormously comprehensive, international study on the effect of cellphone use on digital reading. The study included “nearly 5,000 mobile-phone users in seven countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe — where the average illiteracy rate among children is 20 percent, and 34 percent among adults.” These rates are anywhere from 7 to 10 times higher than the illiteracy rate in the US, to give you a point of comparison. Among other things, the study found that cellphone use can build literacy skills and enjoyment of reading (and clearly these two things are related). Women are particularly drawn to digital reading, which, given their disproportionately high illiteracy rates, holds incredible potential.

“Simply put, once women are exposed to mobile reading, they tend to do it a lot,” the report reads, underscoring the potential benefits that digital books could yield for female literacy. Among the estimated 770 million illiterate adults in the world today, nearly two-thirds are women, and female education still carries a cultural stigma in many poor countries. –The Verge

Amazon Makes a Big Move, Snags Older HBO Shows for Web Streaming – This is pretty interesting, when you consider how much HBO has benefited from the innovation and popularity of its original programming. With Amazon including many original HBO shows in its Amazon Prime instant video lineup, will HBO be able to sustain its market share? Considering the fact that they did not give up shows like “Game of Thrones” suggests that subscribers (like me) will continue to pay for both services. But should a choice need to be made, it could be a toss up, considering all of the other videos Amazon users have access to. HBO has never allowed any other streaming media service access to its catalogue, and one estimate pegs the value of the shows as anywhere from $200 million to $500 million, depending on other shows HBO might allow Amazon to stream.

Some of the shows that Amazon customers won’t see, including “Sex and the City,” “Entourage” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” have their streaming rights tied up in syndication deals with TV outlets. And HBO has kept at least one of its shows – “Game of Thrones” — out of the deal, simply because the property is so valuable to the network, according to a person familiar with the transaction. –re/code

Ebook-Inspired Art: Center for Book Arts Nods at How Digital Is Changing Everything – An interesting exhibition at the Center for Book Arts that includes at least one contemplation of the way digital books can be re-conceptualized as art objects, 40 years after the Center initially opened. And really, why shouldn’t digital reading be part of the book arts? After all, digital books require a physical shell, even if it’s not paper. And there are probably now a boatload of Sony Readers available for repurposing. . .

Titled Once Upon a Time, There Was the End and curated by Rachel Gugelberger, an independent curator, the art explored repeating patterns, organic forms and the cycle of life. It also touched on digital publishing with this work:

It’s a piece by artist Ellen Harvey. It’s three plexiglass mirrors with images of e-readers and e-reading apps etched onto them, mounted onto “lumisheets” (an LED light panel) and framed in plexiglass. The piece is titled Looking-Glass iPad, Kindle & Nook and the images are reversed (like in a mirror). –Digital Book World

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

7 Comments

  1. oceanjasper
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 05:42:18

    Regarding Shakespeare’s supposed dictionary, I find it very strange that any scholar can discuss this document sensibly without acknowledging the authorship controversy. They can certainly look for words in this dictionary that appear in the plays and so on, but any mention of comparing handwriting is pretty silly since there are only a few scrawled signatures of William Shakespeare of Stratford in existence. In addition, nobody in all the time since his death has ever found any evidence that he owned a single book, so it’s pretty unlikely that he owned this one that miraculously survived for four centuries.

    I suppose the dictionary may belong to whoever wrote the plays: Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon, Queen Elizabeth…

  2. helen
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 06:59:05

    I hope that HBO deal includes Carnivale and Rome!

  3. SAO
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 08:11:51

    When I lived in a third world country, I was struck by the absence of bookstores and books. I’m not sure there was more than one or two dedicated bookstores in all of Haiti in the 1980s. Cap Haitian, the second largest city, didn’t have one. So, books by phone are probably an tremendous increase in access to many, many people across the globe.

    That said, many of them will be pirated. When a new technology, like e-reading on cell phones is released, it gets released globally, but the content providers don’t negotiate sales agreements in many countries. Even if it’s in their business plan, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe are going to be way down on the priority list. In the mean time, local entrepreneurs will note that there’s a market of people with phones and a desire to read and guess what happens?

  4. Isobel Carr
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 09:39:19

    @SAO: I am A-Okay with the poorest people in the world reading pirated copies of my books.

  5. Amanda
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 10:20:19

    I guess that Amazon-HBO deal would be a good thing for prime subscribers like me who have never watched an HBO show before but sadly the only show of HBO that intrigues me is Game of Thrones and it will not be included.

  6. Isobel Carr
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 13:45:03

    @Amanda: Given what I saw listed, I would HIGHLY rec trying The Wire, Deadwood, Rome, Flight of the Conchords, Band of Brothers, and Treme if you never have. Those shows were all pretty amazing. Deadwood remains one of my all-time favorite shows (esp season one which has a good arc and a nicely realized HFN ending), and I simply can’t praise Treme enough.

  7. Amanda
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 14:38:25

    @Isobel Carr:

    Thank you Isobel I do look forward to checking some of these shows out, especially Deadwood and The Wire.

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