Posted by: mkmitova | October 10, 2008

Frankfurt Book Fair 2008 Preliminary

Image by Si B (Flickr)

Image by Si B (Flickr)

The 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair – the biggest book fair in the world – will take place between 15 and 19 of October. This year’s Guest of Honour is Turkey. The program will feature the presentation of 350 Turkish writers and translators, 100 Turkish publishers and 200 readings and discussions to draw international attention to Turkey’s thriving publishing business. Apart from that, more than 7000 exhibitors from 100 countries will participate in this year’s fair.

The Book and Digital Media master students will have the opportunity to explore the numerous fair stands on October 16 in between appointments with three of the fair participants organized by the master program’s faculty. The people that kindly agreed to meet and talk to us at the fair are:

Also on the agenda are a visit to the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Kloster Eberbach, where part of the movie “The Name of the Rose” was filmed, and drinks.

Posted by: mkmitova | September 20, 2008

Freedom to Publish Award 2008

19:30, 18 September 2008

Portuguese Synagogue, Mr. Visserplein 3, Amsterdam

The imposing yet cozy interior of the historic Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam welcomed the guests and participants of the 2008 IPA Freedom to Publish Award ceremony. The event officially opened the International Symposium on Neo-Censorship “Threat to the Open Book” as part of the Amsterdam World Book Capital 2008 programme. The recipient of this year’s award – Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu – was recognized for his dedication in the publishing field defying modern-day censorship and freedom of speech suppression in his home country.

Under the shimmering candle lights of the elegant chandeliers about 100 guests listened to the keynote given by Norwegian publisher William Nygaard – board member of the Norwegian division of International PEN, and an ardent supporter of freedom of speech. Having himself disseminated banned literature (in 1989 he published Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, outlawed in many Muslim countries), a “trespass” that nearly cost him his life in the early 1990s, Mr Nygaard was a truly deserving choice for the opening of the neo-censorship symposium.

Mr Zarakolu was introduced by Anna Maria Cabanellas, the President of IPA. In her speech, Ms Cabanellas highlighted Mr Zarakolu’s perseverance in the face of adversity, detailing the conditions that led to Mr Zarakolu’s recent conviction:

Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu was condemned for the crime of « insulting Turkishness »
under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on 17 June 2007 for having published a
book entitled: The Truth will set us free. Armenians and Turks reconciled by George
Jerjian. This was the first conviction since this Article 301 was slightly amended on 30
April 2008. Over 1,000 people, including writers, publishers and journalists, have
been brought to the courts under Article 301 since it was created in 2005. Around 30
publishers, writers and journalists are on trial today under Article 301. They are
among a total of 79 charged under a range of laws that impinge on the right to free
speech, which shows that Article 301, although being a symbol, is not the only tool
used to prosecute free speech in Turkey.

An improvised interview with awarded Mr Zarakolu followed, which became the emotional highlight of the evening. Mr Zarakolu stated his support for Turkey’s continued process of European Union integration and urged EU officials to keep a close eye on Turkey’s growing censorship practices. He expressed regret at the current lack of monitoring in relation to the protection of human rights and democracy in Turkey – a country engaged in full-membership negotiations with the EU. Concluding the interview, Mr Zarakolu said that, as a normal human being, he often feels intimidated by the persecutions he has been subjected to in his home country, but that he wants to carry on with his mission as a publisher – to foster democratic values and uphold human rights.

Posted by: Janneke Adema | May 2, 2008

The Bookstore as a Cultural Organisation


This weeks’ Studium Generale lecture was delivered by Maarten Asscher, director of the Athenaeum Bookstore in Amsterdam, in which he contemplated the current position of the bookstore in the Netherlands. In his lecture he gave a broad perspective on the book selling business and at the same time he tried to cope with the pessimistic spirit haunting the book world. For one, Asscher does not believe the ‘overproduction’ of book titles on the Dutch market is necessary a bad thing, for a certain amount of overproduction ensures the pluriformity of the book market.  For there are certain selection mechanisms that ensure that those titles that are the most important artifacts for cultural transmission are brought to the public. First of all there is the publisher, who selects those titles that are to be published from the even larger amount of delivered manuscripts. From this selection the second selection is made when reviewers and critics only pay attention to a certain fraction of the published books. The last selection is in the hands of the people who decide what to buy for their libraries or bookstores. Together, these mechanisms make sure the book culture is sustained.

A second strain of cultural pessimism Asscher mentions, has to do with the fear of digitization and e-books. For a lot of people in the book business are afraid that with the coming of e-books people will buy and read less books. In Asscher’s view these fears are exaggerated. For instance, he believes that especially ‘information’ based books will be susceptible to digitization. On the other hand academic books in for example the humanities will for long hold their position in the paper world. Asscher foresees that if these books will eventually only appear as e-books they will loose the contact with the general public, for they will draw back into their peer-reviewed virtual surroundings without reaching a broader audience. And this is where the bookstore plays an important role as it is not concerned so much with information as well as with ‘written culture’. And in this sense the bookstore needs to be a public meeting place or a cultural haven, a place were culture and society meet, in other words, the bookstore needs to establish relationships with its artistic and cultural surroundings. And to establish and sustain this the bookstore also needs to be active on the Internet. Asscher promotes the virtual bookstore, which, with its expertise and knowledge, can be a valuable asset to the digital cultural landscape. In this way, Asscher says, a bookstore can and must be a little bit of everything: a library, a publisher, a museum, a theater, a debating centre, but most of all, it needs to be a bookstore: a place where our written culture is sustained and transmitted.

And in this regard it is very interesting to see how even in the digital era, the bookstore might still function as an important connection between the academic world and the general public, between science and society.  

Posted by: Monika | April 17, 2008

Amsterdam Worldcapital of Books

Oh how lucky we are this year. Not only do we have the exhibition about Leiden as a city of books, also Amsterdam is going to be the WorldBookCapital for one year, starting next week on April the 23rd.

The 18th of May shouldn’t be missed by any booklover, because then Amsterdam will host the world’s biggest book market.

Check also the rest of the program and don’t forget to download the BidBook, which contains a detailed outline of the activities and ‘ends with a description of the existing finely-woven infrastructure of the Dutch booktrade’.

Posted by: Camila | April 14, 2008


It seems that 2008 is an important year for the printing world in several corners of this planet. While in Brazil it’s celebrated 200 years of the “Imprensa Régia” (or that printing was finally allowed in the country – sorry no links in English), in Scotland they celebrate 500 years of printing. And you can know more about here.

Posted by: Camila | April 14, 2008

Lectori Salutem

From 25th April until 7th September 2008 the Allard Pierson Museum (The Archeologic Museum of the University of Amsterdam) will be helding the exhibition Lectori Salutem:

“We use letters, words and text every day. Why do we write on A4-format paper and prefer to use the Times Roman font? Is a miniature called a miniature because it is a small picture? What could you find in ancient libraries? What role do ancient texts play in contemporary computer games and films? You can find the answers at the exhibition lectori salutem, which deals with the origins and history of books in and after classic antiquity.

lectori salutem, illustrates a number of key moments in the history of the book. Original objects, beautiful manuscripts and books from Dutch collections, photographs and texts show how the works of classical authors, such as Homer, have stood the test of time.

The exhibition lectori salutem, is part of the UNESCO programme Amsterdam World Book Capital 2008 and runs simultaneously with the start of the Week of the Classics. ”

More information here.

Posted by: Monika | April 11, 2008

Semantic Web Conference

web 3.0

To all web 3.0 disbelievers it might come as a surprise that this is already the 5th European Semantic Web Conference. Held five days under the Spanish sun, the program consits of two days of workshops and three days of actual conference. Although most of the topics are more technical, it should be interesting for anyone who believes the future of the web will be 3.0. Unfortunately it’s quite costly to attend (prices start at € 500).

What is the Semantic Web, also called web 3.0 anyway?

Besides that it is ‘alive’ (quote from Tom Heath, CATCH Interoperability meeting, March 2008), it is seen as an upgrad of the current ‘social web’, also called web 2.0, that thrives on user generated content. The main problem is that the computer itsself doesn’t understand the content of documents online. Like web 2.0 is a web of documents, web 3.0 is machinereadable web. A very good explanation of the problem and its possible solution is the video of, the beta version of a semantic search engine. In short: it is all about marking up meta data in a way that creates relationships between sets of data. Relationships that can be interpreted by the computer rather than the human searching for information. Like this the machine becomes intelligent. Content already exists on millions of pages, in millions of databases. Now it is about time to deal with its meaning. Content may have been king, contextualization is the future. The future is now!

If you want to get to know more about web 3.0 check this links:
Semantic Web: An introduction
What will be the semantic killer application?
CATCH (Continuous Access to Cultural Heritage) – Cultural Heritage Institutions go 3.0

Following two successful international symposia on The History of Printing and Publishing in the Languages and Countries of the Middle East, held at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz (2002) and at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (2005), we are now convening the third meeting on the same themes. This will take place in Leipzig, 25-27 September 2008, and it will form part of the 24th Congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI). This Symposium, however, will not be confined to printing in Arabic and Muslim languages, but will, as before, cover a range of Middle Eastern languages and scripts.

There has been a good response to our Call for Papers, and the list is now closed. We have accepted proposals for contributions on printing and publishing in Arabic, Armenian, Armeno-Turkish, Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic, Kipchak, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Syriac, Tatar and Turkish; and in Afghanistan, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Latin America & the Caribbean, Tatarstan, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as in the region generally.

The list of papers accepted is here.

Posted by: Janneke Adema | April 4, 2008

Leiden City of Books-II

SylviusTuesday’s lecture in the Leiden City of Books series hosted by Studium Generale was delivered by Harm  

Beukers, Scaliger professor Special Collections in Leiden. The topic of his lecture was 17th century medics

and their libraries. He focused especially on the Leiden professor Fransiscus Sylvius (1614-1672). One of

Sylvius most important publications was the “Praxeos medicae idea nova, 1671″ (New idea in medical practice).

Beukers wonders were Sylvius’ new ideas originated from. One way to find out is by taking a look at what it 

was that Sylvius exactly read. Beukers did some research on what was present in Sylvius’ library and how this  differed from other medics’ libraries of that age in order to find an explanation for the originality of Sylvius’ ideas.

What were these ‘new ideas’ exactly? First of all, Sylvius was the founder of the 17th-century iatrochemical school of medicine, which held that all phenomena of life and disease are based on chemical action. The idea that all bodily phenomena can be traced to chemical processes was quite new. Another of Sylvius’ innovations lies in his emphasis on the importance of the practical teaching of medicine, for which he established the Collegium Medico Practicum. For Sylvius the three pillars of medicine were animal experiments, patient observations and autopsy.

One of the resources Beukers used to track down information about Sylvius’ book collection was the inventory of his belongings, made up after his death. Beukers emphasizes correctly that this isn’t the most reliable source, for many times the auctioneers tried to throw in some unsold books of their own, to ensure their sale together with a ‘famous library’. But if we do take a look at the list, we can see that Sylvius’ library had almost no literature, a lot of (medical) classics (from Hippocrates to Galenus) ánd also a lot of books on alchemy, which could explain something about the nature of the ‘chemical influences’ in his work. He also had numerous works from his friend Descartes, who, like Sylvius, loved to ‘distil the spirits’.

A comparison with the libraries of other physicians of that time, like the one belonging to Lucas Schacht (1634-1689), shows the uniqueness of Sylvius’ library when it comes to its alchemy works. However, Sylvius was not altogether alone in this respect, for the physician Fransiscus Gomarus (1563-1641) also had some works on alchemy in his library.

Beukers’ lecture offered a fascinating journey into the history and origin of ideas and is a very good example of how book history can be very well used to reconstruct the Zeitgeist of a certain period. Next week Prof. Gerard Unger will give a lecture on the history of typography in Leiden. Be there or be square.

Posted by: Janneke Adema | March 28, 2008

Open Access Petition


For all of you who support guaranteed Open Access to publicly funded
works, there is a petition (sponsored by SPARC and JISC) you can sign here:

It’s time for change!

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