Category: Books (Page 2 of 15)

J.K. Rowling uses a hologram

Whoa. J.K. Rowling is obviously a very popular author due to her Harry Potter series. But I just today learned of her ingenious way to thwart “signature pirates”. It seems that she has been inundated with requests for her signature since the early days of the Harry Potter series. So much so, that she no longer signs books except for charities and the like. Well, that means that unscrupulous people have sold copies of her books with forged signatures (to greatly increase their worth on the market).

To counteract this piracy, since 2007 she affixes a little hologram to the opposite page of any book she signs. I’ve never heard of this before. Neat, sorta. But it’s also sad – I rely on the word of a dealer when I buy a book that was signed. I’m still optimistic that all the signed books I have are authentic (though more than half were signed in my presence)…

The book below is an example and you can get it for a mere ~$350.00 on That’s a steal, as a 1st edition copy of her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (published 1997) runs for more than $15,000.00 (with the hologram if signed after 2007).


Tom Reiss at Politics Prose reading The Black Count

Tom Reiss gave a reading and signed book his book, “The Black Count” at Politics and Prose bookstore in DC. Very engaging speaker, and I actually finished this book prior to the talk. Great time.

Benjamin Banneker of Ellicott Mills

I read an entry on Benjamin Banneker from the book, “The Freedmen’s Book” (1865). This entry is about a man born in Ellicott City (then Ellicott Mills), MD in 1732. He built the first clock in America, after only having seen a watch. Then taught himself astronomy and developed an Almanac (again, first in the country):

“When he was fifty-nine years old, he made an Almanac. It is a very difficult job to calculate all about the changes of the moon, and the rising and ebbing of the tides, and at what time the sun will rise and set every day, all the year round; and it was a much more difficult task then than it is now; because now there is a great improvement in astronomical books and instruments.”

I so would have liked to meet him!

Many other passages in the above book are great; I just started reading it…

I found the above after reading a letter sent by a former slave, on the Letters of Note blog. These interWebs are just great for finding information you didn’t even know you were interested in!

All you ever wanted to know about Roman Toilets

I have to admit that from an engineering standpoint I have been interested in finding out how toilets worked in ancient Rome. However, not so interested that I actually did any research past a quick search on google.

Then I received an email from the American Journal of Archaeology, and took a look at the online book reviews. This one stood out:

Roman Toilets: Their Archaeology and Cultural History
Gemma C.M. Jansen, Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, and Eric M. Moormann, eds.
Reviewed by Eric Poehler

…What emerges from a full reading of Roman Toilets is the clearest and most detailed picture to date of the Roman experience of urinating and defecating in both public and private contexts. First, as objects of archaeological and architectural interest, the individual toilet (latrina) and multiseat latrine (forica) are described in exhaustive (and sometimes exquisite) detail…

The book (Roman Toilets: Their Archaeology and Cultural History) is a steal at $98.00 and is available on I put it on my wishlist. :)

Amazon, eBooks, DRM and Monopsony

Charlie Stross (author) has an excellent blog entry about Amazon’s ebook strategy. Great article: I love it when I read something interesting, and learn something – such as Amazon as a “monopsony“.

While I knew what a monopoly was (there is only one seller to many buyers), the term “monopsony” (where one buyer has many sellers) was new to me. It also appears to be new to my spellchecker, which keeps trying to change it to “monopoly”. Right. Amazon has made itself both a monopoly and monopsony. Go read Charlie’s blog.

And he’s with me regarding DRM (which must die if publishers are to live; again, read his blog):

I won’t actually advocate violating license terms and conditions, but I’ll cop to doing so myself (insofar as if I buy a DRM’d ebook, I think I’d be mad not to strip the DRM and make an archival copy strictly for my own future use).
-Charlie Stross, from What Amazon’s ebook strategy means

What he said!!

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