Wednesday News: Comics, ebooks, big data, and motherhood
Ta-Nehisi Coates To Write New Black Panther Comic Book Series For Marvel – So this is pretty exciting. It turns out that Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Marvel superfan,” is writing a new Black Panther series for the comics company. Although there is no release date in the article, Marvel has already produced a cover for the first edition, which looks pretty awesome.
Black Panther, the first black superhero, was created in 1966 by Marvel comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Panther, whose real name is T’Challa, was born in the fictional African country of Wakanda. When he eats a special “heart-shaped” herb, T’Challa’s senses and physical strength are enhanced to superhuman levels.
The storyline to be written by Coates is titled “A Nation Under Our Feet.” It’s inspired by Steven Hahn’s book of the same title. The comic book will follow Black Panther as he responds to an uprising in his country set off by a group of superhuman terrorists called the People. – Huffington Post
The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead – It’s no surprise that ebook sales have not continue to rise as some had predicted. Still, this story more like an advertisement for traditional publishing than a considered and detailed analysis. We know publishers are investing in print, and that they are pushing ebook prices up, possibly in the hopes of pushing readers back to print books. There is a false belief that for every reader, print and digital are interchangeable. And let’s not forget that Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Is there any real analysis here of which books are selling better in print than digital, for example? Are subscription services really shutting down because not enough readers are going digital?
Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago. . . .
Publishers, seeking to capitalize on the shift, are pouring money into their print infrastructures and distribution. Hachette added 218,000 square feet to its Indiana warehouse late last year, and Simon & Schuster is expanding its New Jersey distribution facility by 200,000 square feet.
Penguin Random House has invested nearly $100 million in expanding and updating its warehouses and speeding up distribution of its books. It added 365,000 square feet last year to its warehouse in Crawfordsville, Ind., more than doubling the size of the warehouse. – New York Times
History As Big Data: 500 Years Of Book Images And Mapping Millions Of Books – An incredibly cool article on the Internet Archive and the way Kalev Leetaru has created a gallery of images found in all of the Archive’s books published as early as 1800, along with animated maps that show, among other things, locations referenced in the books. These maps and the image gallery are, Leetaru insists, historical records that can help us understand any number of things, from how aesthetic trends evolve to the geographical distribution of book before and after copyright laws are enacted.
Libraries have reinvented themselves in the digital era and one library in particular, the Internet Archive, stands among the forefront of the big data era. The Archive, most famous for its historical archive of the Internet, today holds more than 23 petabytes of historical data that is growing at a rate of 50-60 terabytes per week. On its servers reside more than 436 billion web pages back to 1996, 750,000 television shows back to 2009, over 100,000 pieces of software dating back 30 years, and over half a billion pages of books dating back 500 years from over 1,000 libraries around the world. It is that last collection, of millions of books dating to the year 1500, that we will explore further here…
Browse the archive for yourself on Flickr, where more than 2.5 million of the images are already available, with more added every few weeks. If you’re interested in nature, try searching for “bird” or “butterfly,” or for the more historically-minded, try “railroad” or the “telephone.” Emblem books can be particularly beautiful, with their exquisitely detailed renderings of moral stories and daily life. – Forbes
The Mother of All Questions – Rebecca Solnit recalls a lecture she delivered on Virginia Woolf, in response to which the audience seemed most interested in why Woolf did not have children. This anecdote prompts Solnit to ask some hard questions about the value of happiness, and the way happiness, especially for women, is often tied to marriage and motherhood. Solnit interrogates the social construction of marriage (and the “conservative defense of marriage” as ‘one man, one woman’), and addresses the way so many women are judged for being “bad” mothers if they do not live up to an arbitrary standard. Is happiness best served by the expectation that women should be married with children? Although Solnit doesn’t talk about the Romance genre, the implications are obvious.
In the traditional worldview happiness is essentially private and selfish. Reasonable people pursue their self-interest, and when they do so successfully they are supposed to be happy. The very definition of what it means to be human is narrow, and altruism, idealism, and public life (except in the forms of fame, status, or material success) have little place on the shopping list. The idea that a life should seek meaning seldom emerges; not only are the standard activities assumed to be inherently meaningful, they are treated as the only meaningful options.
People lock onto motherhood as a key to feminine identity in part from the belief that children are the best way to fulfill your capacity to love, even though the list of monstrous, ice-hearted mothers is extensive. But there are so many things to love besides one’s own offspring, so many things that need love, so much other work love has to do in the world. – Harper’s