Google Penance II: All Art, All the Time

So my blog site-o-meter tells me that most people who come here via search engines are looking for one of two things: Yves Klein or medieval marginalia.  Which means that, while making fun of philosophical book covers may get me quick attention, half-baked art criticism gives me the long-term gains.

So, since this here blog ain’t gonna write itself, it’s time for a subject near and dear to my heart: late medieval/early Renaissance religious art.
Continue reading


Copyright Fun: Supreme Court Edition!

So now that we’ve had our PIPA/SOPA backlash, it’s time for the issue that’s gotten a lot less attention: what The Supremes were doing while Wikipedia & Co. were rioting.

Now, I’m as much a fan of copyright law (and following it!) as the next guy, but this is ridiculous.  In a 6-2 decision yesterday, the court ruled that a number of foreign works that had been part of the public domain are now under copyright (again).  While it may seem sensible that, if the treaty you sign says you have to treat foreign copyrights like American ones, you treat foreign copyrights like American ones, this misses the point that American copyright law is fundamentally unfair and imbalanced, extending protections to an extent unknown elsewhere in the world.

Continue reading

Soliciting is a crime

If anyone in the audience has any experience with publishing humanities/social sciences journals and wouldn’t mind talking about it/passing along information from The Inside, I’d appreciate it.  Being a semi-former academic, most everything I hear about them can more-or-less be summarized by saying that they’re evil, make obscene profit margins, and keep hard-working scholars down.  Granted, it may be that we book people are just nice, but I suspect there’s more to the story than you hear from outraged Gruniad opinion writers.

Or I hope there is.  If not, then I’m in the wrong line of work.

Epublishing Ain’t Free

Time to crush the hopes and dreams of many a publishing pundit: just because it’s in an electronic format doesn’t mean it’s cheap to produce—or that you can/should skip the publisher and go straight to dissemination.  This one will probably hack off half my twitter feed—it aims straight at the core of at least a few of the assumptions behind open access publishing—but the assumption that publishing houses do nothing but slap someone’s text on paper is wronger than a wrong thing that’s wrong.

Continue reading

Why the Intern Rejected Your Book

Rule 1 of the acquisitions department: the publishing house is a business.
Rule 2: rejecting book proposals is easy; accepting them is hard.

It may seem strange to think that some twerp intern with only an MA (if that!) has the power to reject manuscripts from emeritus professors, but more than one submission has found itself in The Slammer (AKA “The Rattling File of Death,” AAKA “the non-invited submission file”) on an intern’s advice.  Sure, I spent over three years in grad school learning the minutia of my field, but really—they’re trusting me with Someone’s Life Work, the Brilliant Book What Will Change the World?


Continue reading