Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BOOK BIZ | Outsourcing Design

Sendil Mourougane,
Lumina Datamatics.
On the first day of the 2016 BookExpo at the Javits Center, I shared the shuttle bus with Sendil Mourougane, who works for Lumina Datamatics, an outsourcing firm for book publication.

We talked about what his company does in the book publication supply chain that stretches from the author to the bookstore.

Typically a book is prepared by the author in Microsoft Word, or is translated into Microsoft Word after being edited in another format. From Word the nascent book is translated by the publisher into a book-design program, the most popular of which seems to be InDesign.

Lumina Datamatics has a team of designers in Edison, N.J. and also a larger team in India. They can have people working on a book around the clock. They do work for large publishers like Houghton Mifflin, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Macmillan and Wiley. It is up to the publisher to pick the printer, although Courier Printing is a popular one (several printing plants go by that name; the biggest seems to be in Smyrna, Tennessee).

Most recently, as the advantages of print-on-demand publishing are becoming clearer,  some Lumina customers have been taking the design output and sending it to Ingram to generate and distribute print-on-demand books.

I asked about cost and Sendil said that it is usually quoted on a per-page basis, somewhere between $3 and $10 a page. Of course it depends greatly on how much work is required, and special services have their own fees. The following kinds of services are provided:
  • Translation to InDesign.
  • Design of pages, with photographs if required.
  • Composition — changes in type faces.
  • Text layout.
  • Copy editing against one of several style manuals (Chicago, MLA etc.)
  • Permissions for photos etc.
  • Curriculum-resource-package design. (As in McGraw-Hill Education packages.)
Bottom Line

I hadn't considered the benefits of turning a book over to a full-service design company and now I see them. That's the kind of thing BookExpo is for. Sendil can be reached at

Related Posts: A Model Bookstore in the Age of the Indies

BOOK BIZ | Goodman's Plan for Indie Stores

Peter Goodman, Fighting for Us.
Champion of the Indie Book.
Peter Goodman's term as board chair of the Independent Book Publishers Association is coming to an end.

He is the publisher of Stone Bridge Press, which specializes in books on Asia.  He sold his company to a Japanese distributor and then bought it back. Sounds like the Rockefeller Center deal; I hope he made a bundle, net, on the two transactions.

He has written a full-page swan song as he leaves IBPA under the "Soapbox" heading in the Publishers Weekly of May 15, 2017 distributed at BookExpo in the Javits Center, where I will be for the next two days (June 1-2).

Here is my restatement of his article, with a few points of my own added. Goodman says that the problems with the existing system include these four:
  • Big publishers have a winner-take-all mentality.
  • Lesser-known authors have trouble finding a publisher to bet on them.
  • Meanwhile, people with some name recognition (for whatever reason) are recruited to author books, regardless of their ability to generate new ideas or write well, while the real talent is paid off for anonymous ghost-writing. 
  • Lesser-known writers are discouraged by the lack of support or opportunity to sell their books under their own name.
Goodman calls for a modern Indie Bookstore with the following characteristics:
  1. Community driven. TLC for the consumer.
  2. Totally wired and plugged in with kiosks for buying books.
  3. Based on Print On Demand (POD), with books printed in less than 10 minutes.
  4. Multimedia oriented — you can buy e-books, movies, music. WhatEVER.
  5. Participatory, a gathering place. Workshops, etc. The Espresso machine right in front. Starbucks and bookstacks, the Barnes-and-Noble coffee-shop model. Walk in and you will find some of the same welcoming embrace as in a coffee shop or a well-run modern public library. Be a bookstore where local writers can leave their books for sale, either offset-printed and cheaply bound, or available as a POD book.
  6. No returns! The return policy is a killer for indie publishers. This will limit the books that the bookstore will buy, but it also means that the authors won't suffer when the books come back.
Goodman doesn't pretend this model will happen without some serious changes in the industry. He is asking for a concerted effort to make it a reality. Indie publishers and unknown writers should not have to rely on Amazon. It's not good, he says, for the growth of our culture.


I spoke with a writer for the French equivalent of Publishers Weekly. He said the big problem in the book business is the loss of diversity. Amazon now has 80 percent of the digital book business and 50 percent of the total book-publishing industry, and that is not healthy. It is dangerous.

There is a glimmer of hope in the Indie Book business, as some self-publishers have done very well for themselves.

A chart for March 2017 sales shows that the best-selling self-published books are Romance novels, accounting for 16 of the 25 best-selling books. The best-selling book is Kept from You by Nashoda Rose. Prices of the Romance novels are $3 to $8 a copy. The other nine books on the top 25 are Self-Help (1 title, $10), Memoir (2 titles, $8 each), YA Fiction (2 titles, $4 each), Health (1 title, $10), Mystery/Thriller (1 title, $4), Fiction (1 title, $10) and Poetry (1 title, $10).

Related Posts: Book Design Outsourcing . Goodman Plan for Indie Bookstores .  BOOK BIZ | Critical Mass

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BUCKS CO., PA. | Washington Crossing

Washington Crossing the Delaware (Christmas 
Eve, 1776), by Emmanuel Leutze, 1850.
This Memorial Day weekend we went to a wedding at a winery in Erwinna, Pennsylvania, traveled south via Lahaska and New Hope, and finished up with a visit to Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.

The towns are all in Bucks County, one of the three original counties established  by Quaker William Penn when he founded the colony of Pennsylvania. It is named after Buckinghamshire in England, where he previously lived, but the abbreviation to Bucks is not followed by a period as it is in England.

Erwinna.  The small town of Erwinna is named after Colonel Erwin, who was important in the crucial attack on the British on the morning of December 26, 1776. Prior to that date, the American rebels led by General George Washington had not been faring well. It was cold. Warm clothing and footwear were scarce. The officers were adequately attired by the soldiers were ill-clothed and demoralized by their defeats.

Washington's surprise attack, December 1776.
Orientation is with East at the top.
Colonel Erwin assembled boats to make the crossing of the Delaware possible. The subsequent surprise attack on more than one thousand Hessian mercenaries on the other side of the Delaware River was a risky decision, the kind of thing that Washington would have learned from his mentor, Scotsman General Braddock, when Washington was a Colonel in the British Army during the French and Indian War.

Selfie — John Tepper Marlin visiting the Delaware
River, on the Pennsylvania side. This is where
Washington crossed to attack Hessians at Trenton,
turning the tide of the Revolutionary War.
The British Army arrived the previous August, one-fourth of them Hessian soldiers recruited from Germany. The Brits invaded Long Island and forced the Continental Army to Manhattan. The Brits then attacked Manhattan and forced Washington's troops to retreat along the Hudson River to New Jersey.

The redcoats chased the American rebels across the Delaware into Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

At this point the American rebels seemed to be crushed. General Washington was on the run. General Cornwallis was satisfied that the Continental Army was not going to be a threat, having had many defeats and no victories in more than five months.

American morale was low, with many men sick and wounded. Hospital facilities were essentially local homes or field tents. Shabbily dressed and poorly trained, they were deserting at high rates. On top of all that, enlistments of most of the militias under Washington's command were due to expire at the end of December and many would be going home. Even Washington thought privately that the jig might be up for the Revolution. By the following spring there would be no army left.

A Marker at Washington Crossing,
Nine Miles Upriver from Trenton
Washington had to do something. Then he got word that about 1,500 Hessian soldiers were camped across the Delaware in Trenton. The Hessian mercenaries had a deserved reputation as skilled, effective soldiers. The only way for his irregulars to have a chance of defeating them, even with superior numbers, was a surprise attack. Washington decided to risk everything on an attack.

Washington's Crossing. The weather was terrible, with snow, sleet, and gale-force winds. Washington decided the weather would work in his army's favor, because no one would imagine that the Continental Army would attack during a blizzard.

A few hours before attempting the mission, Washington read aloud to his soldiers from Thomas Paine's The American Crisis. The army was divided into at least three different groups to cross the Delaware, each with a different destination point around Trenton; Washington led one group and put commanders in charge of the others. The river was moving quickly, carrying huge chunks of ice, and they were traveling through a blinding snowstorm.

On Christmas Eve, 2,400 men, 18 cannons, and some horses crossed the river in small boats. Only Washington's group persevered through the brutal weather–the other commanders turned their troops around.

Washington's men marched the nine miles on Christmas Day to Trenton, many of the soldiers with frostbitten feet as they marched on snow barefoot or with rags tied around their feet.

The Turning Point. Early morning December 26, the Continental Army attacked Trenton, surprising a camp composed entirely of unprepared Hessians, who were and hung over from their Christmas festivities. After the loss of their commander, the Hessians surrendered. Washington's victory was complete but his situation still precarious. They killed about one hundred Hessian soldiers and took at least 900  captive. Then they retreated back across the river to Pennsylvania.

It wasn't fully clear at the time, but this victory turned the tide toward the Revolutionaries. It restored everyone's faith in the Continental Army's abilities.

The battle's outcome gave Washington and his officers the confidence to mount another campaign. In Britain, it challenged the view that British victory over the rebels would be easy, or even inevitable. On December 30, Washington again crossed the Delaware, this time winning another victory at Trenton on January 2, 1877 and then pushing on to Princeton, where they defeated the British on January 3. The victories not only stunned the British, they drew support for the spunky new nation by potential allies – France, Holland and Spain.

Eye-Witness Report.  Elisha Bostwick, a soldier in the Continental Army, said in his memoirs of the battle:
[We] encamped on the Pennsylvania side [of the Delaware] and there remained to the 24th December. [T]oward evening [we] began to re-cross the Delaware but by obstructions of ice in the river did not all get across till quite late in the evening, and all the time a constant fall of snow with some rain, and finally our march began. 
[General Washington rode by and said:]  "Soldiers, keep by your officers. For God's sake, keep by your officers!" Spoke in a deep and solemn voice. ... Our horses were then unharnessed and the artillery men prepared. We marched on and it was not long before we heard the out sentries of the enemy both on the road we were in and the eastern road, and their out guards retreated firing, and our army, then with a quick step pushing on upon both roads, at the same time entered the town. Their artillery taken, they resigned with little opposition, about nine hundred, all Hessians, with 4 brass field pieces. When crossing the Delaware with the prisoners in flat bottom boats the ice continually stuck to the boats... [T]he next day [we] recrossed the Delaware again and returned back to Trenton, and there on the first of January 1777 our years service expired, and then by the pressing solicitation of [General Washington,] a part of those whose time was out consented on a ten dollar bounty to stay six weeks longer, and although desirous as others to return home, I engaged to stay that time.
Sources: Garrison Keillor, Writer's Almanac, December 25, 2014. Henry Steele Commager and Robert B. Morris, The Spirit of 'Seventy Six (1958). David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (2004). "Washington Crosses the Delaware, 1776," EyeWitness to History (2004).

Monday, May 29, 2017

BOISSEVAIN BOOKS | Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of Boissevain Books, LLP, is a partnership composed of the following children and grandchildren of Hilda van Stockum, as of May 2017:

Brigid Marlin
Randal Marlin
John Tepper Marlin, Managing Partner

Alex Marlin
Margie Marlin
Nick Marlin

The next meeting of the Board will be in Ottawa on Friday, July 7 or Saturday, July 8.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

LIBRARIES | May 23—NY Public Library Dedicated (Postscript, Dec. 22, 2017)

Prudence the lion protects the NYPL.
May 23, 2017—This day in 1911 the New York Public Library was dedicated.

It is described as the second-largest public library in the United States, behind the Library of Congress, and the fourth-largest in the world. It is truly a public library, accessible in every important way.

The library originated in the late 1800s after the death of one-time New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden, who left in his will more than $2 million to create a public library. New York City already had two major libraries, the Astor Library (a reference book holding, with books only to be read onsite) and the Lenox (a rare books collection accessible only with a ticket of admission), but he had in mind combining these libraries with a circulating library.
****This blog is sponsored by Boissevain Books. Please visit their website and buy one of their books for children or memoirs.****
The plan for the NYPL was hatched in 1895. More than one million books were made available for private circulation. Some 40,000 visitors showed up on opening day.

Scottish-American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie later helped fund branch libraries across New York City. Today, the library has 92 locations, holds nearly 53 million items, and serves about 18 million patrons. The main building of the library is watched over by two marble lions named Patience and Fortitude. Sitting on the steps with a book is called "reading between the lions".

Anglo-Saxon Preeminence

Four of the five greatest libraries in the world are in the UK or USA:
  • Oxford's Bodleian (the only university library). 
  • The British Library in London near St. Pancras Station. 
  • The Library of Congress on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. 
  • The New York Public Library.
The rest of the world is represented by one library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris.

Why might it be that four of the five great libraries are in anglophone countries? I think Gutenberg's moveable-type printing press was especially adapted to the heirs to the Greco-Roman language because the European languages are phonetic and based on a relatively small number of component letters. Chinese characters are more complicated and were harder to convert to mechanical printing (computers have made it much easier). Korean and Japanese phonetic characters were relatively late arrivals.

Within Europe, Italy and Germany had common languages but were not unified until the 19th century and therefore didn't have a strong national center for storing and making accessible books. Bottom line, the major factor seems to be the high degree of literacy and the policy decisions made in the USA and UK to make available free libraries, following the success of philanthropic initiatives along these lines.

I'm a big user of the four USA and UK libraries. A month rarely goes by when I am not in one of them or consulting their resources online. Only one is a university library, the Bodleian. It and the British library receive registration copies of all new published books (as do a few other UK libraries).

The Library of Congress is the singular depository of copyrighted books in the USA, but in usage the NY Public Library has nearly ten times the number of visitors of any other library in the world.

My main comment on the difference between the four US and UK libraries and the Bibliothèque Nationale is that one could go into any of the four anglo libraries and generally find something on one's own, without requiring high-level support.

The BnF, however, is built like a fortress to protect its books — without help from the skilled staff one could be lost inside forever.

On one's first visit to Oxford's Bodleian Library (Weston building), the inquiry desk is designed essentially to shuttle you into Admissions at right or admit you to the stacks at left. End of story.

Contrast that with one's first introduction to the BnF. The nice murals and indirect lighting don't veil the message that one is in the hands of bureaucracy from here on, and get used to it. One is given chairs to wait in and you take a number. Then you fill out paperwork. Then you are given instructions for your long walks to the vestiaire, a different place where you will sit, a different place where your books are, and a different place where you order them.

These places in my case were widely scattered. When I first arrived, I walked through several doors that were like submarine or space ship interlocks, and then down a cavernous escalator. The books I needed were at the other end of the huge BnF plaza, a walk I feel sure was a quarter-mile long. I had to go back to the admission office because somehow I had been misclassified. I still have no clue what the problem was but it was very important.

So on my first day at the library, I must have walked a full mile inside the library, from one office to another and back again. As Gen. Pierre Bosquet said of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava: C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.

I was looking for books on French heraldry and found a gap in the books on the shelves. There was no explanation on the shelf for the gap. I went to the desk and they advised me that all the heraldry books were filed together somewhere else completely, in the middle of the aisle, some distance from the shelves where the number order would suggest they would be located.

I started to point out the problem until, as I talked, it dawned on me that I was just exposing to ridicule my simple Anglo-Saxon peasant mind, expecting things to be in the right order instead of appreciating the elegant way the BnF provides special status for les armes. I think you need to buy a new ticket every day you enter the BnF. They provide three of them gratuits. I don't know where or when or why you have to produce these tickets. I fervently hope I never have to go back there to find out.

Postscript (December 22, 2017) – My friend Nigel Armstrong-Flemming writes to me that I should go to the heraldry section at the Paris Municipal Archives, where he found the staff attentive and helpful. Anyone out there with experience with the Archives?

In Washington, DC, use of the National Archives is discouraged by distance. Anything from World War I on is kept in the College Park, Maryland Archive Center.

Monday, May 22, 2017

HOMESCHOOLING | Canadian Curricular Options

One of the Canadian
Homeschooling Groups
My niece Dr. Christine Schintgen, who is a fellow graduate of Oxford (her D.Phil. is in English), is Chairman of Literature at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada. She and her husband are homeschooling their children.

I sent her the BIG LIST curriculum summary by  to help Canadians find their own options. Christine responded that she uses a lot of American curricular material:
There's a math website we use that isn't Canadian but it has a Canadian subdivision. The name of the company is IXL ( What we really like about it is that you can specify what province you are in and the website will prompt the student to learn skills that pertain to his or her grade level in the curriculum of his or her province.
This has prompted me to post some facts I have picked up about homeschooling in Canada. If newer better information becomes available to me I will substitute it for what follows.

Canadian Homeschooling

Canada has fewer homeschoolers than the United States. Canada has an estimated 60,000 homeschoolers. Even if this estimate is substantially underestimated, it suggests that with about 2.5 million children reported to be homeschooled in the United States, there are nearly 42 times as many homeschoolers in the USA as in Canada. Since the U.S. population is only 9.1 times bigger (319 million to 35 million), it  suggests that homeschooling is more than six times as popular in the USA.
This blog is sponsored by Boissevain Books. Please visit their website and buy one of their books for children or memoirs.

One reason in both countries the data on homeschooling are fuzzy is that homeschooling is regulated at the state and provincial level. It is sometimes hard to aggregate data from different jurisdictions.

Homeschooling in Canada is regulated by the provinces under three kinds of laws, established by legislation and administered by the provincial education authorities:
  • Specific regulations in Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.
  • Registration in British Columbia. 
  • Permits in Manitoba, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
Reasons for Homeschooling in the USA

The Canadian Journal of Education in 2000 (pp. 204-217) published an article that sets out to identify the reasons for homeschooling in Canada. (The article may be read online.) It starts by reviewing the reasons for homeschooling in the United States, to provide a benchmark for comparisons and a language for discussing the Canadian situation.

American homeschoolers are described as operating a parallel educational system based on the following motivations:
  • They don't like the content of the public-school curricula. Those with these motivations are assumed to be driven by commitment to religious dogma and they are therefore described by writers on the topic (some of whom are responding to those who seek to restrict access to education to the public schools) as "ideologues". Christian fundamentalists were the drivers of homeschooling in the 1980s.
  • They don't like the institutional context within which the public schools operate. Their motivation could be to avoid their children being subject to "negative socialization" — i.e., socialization that is permanently damaging. Or their motivation could stem from "new age" thinking and a desire to have children at home while they learn. In either case, the American literature describes the parents as "pedagogues" rather than "ideologues". Homeschooling has passed the test of being banned and is now accepted. In the 1970s the "new age" parents dominated the homeschooling market. Today, the range of "pedagogues is much wider".
Reading between the lines, the literature in the United States seems to be saying: Homeschooling is here to stay, because while religious schools overall are shrinking rather than growing, a new group of homeschoolers is increasing in size, made up of people who are either fearful of the impact of high school classmates to sear the soul of their children, or more positively to use the home environment to improve the ability of children in the family to learn.
Reasons for Homeschooling in Canada

The Canadian Journal of Education survey sought to determine why homeschoolers did not send their children to public schools. The results are based on 23 interviews with homeschooling parents in Ontario and British Columbia. The results are compared with similar studies in the United States.

The study of Canadian homeschool parents says that the reasons cited for homeschooling their children are four in number and don't correspond at all to the categories cited in the American literature:
  1. Homeschool parents want to maintain the bonds with their children by keeping them home longer.
  2. They want their children to grow up with a less materialistic life style that is promoted in public schools.
  3. They want their children to avoid some of the unpleasant memories that they have of their own time in school.
  4. They want to take responsibility for their children's education. They want to "do no harm" to their children during their school years.
Here are some details of the responses of the parents:
  • All 23 families have a religious faith.
  • Five of them are fundamentalist Christian.
  • For eight of them, religion is a strong factor in their decision to homeschool.
  • They are dissatisfied with local schools.
  • They are concerned about overcrowding, lack of individual attention, problems outside of the classroom (drugs, smoking, alcohol).
  • They don't relate at all to the "ideologue" and "pedagogue" labels.
  • They think homeschooling is better for he children, strengthens family bonds.
  • They would certainly reconsider if the public schools were working better.
In sum, homeschooling is appealing to more parents and it probably won't reverse if or until public schools change or more public educational options are offered.

To Contact Dr. Schintgen: Christine Schintgen, D.Phil. (Oxon.), Chairman of Literature, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, 18 Karol Wojtyla Square, Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada. 613-756-3082.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

WW2 | New Review of "The Winged Watchman"

German Panzer Tanks Advance
into the Netherlands, May 1940
I have just read a review in Crisis Magazine by  of Hilda van Stockum's popular book The Winged Watchman. It appeared May 15, 2017. 

I am grateful to Dr. Christine Schintgen for pointing it out to me.

It is a thoughtful review and I hope it will be widely circulated. Crisis Magazine is itself of great interest.

McKeegan has put her finger on why The Winged Watchman is on so many home-schooling reading lists and rates so highly (consistently in the top ten of more than 100 books) on the Goodreads list of World War II books for children.

During the "Hunger Winter" of 1944-45, Allied
planes dropped food. But not before 20,000
Dutch people starved to death as Dutch food
was diverted to Nazi Germany.
The key feature of the book is that van Stockum is describing the reaction of a faithful Catholic family to the takeover of their country by an evil man. The family is participating in the Resistance to the Nazis, who invaded Holland. 

What McKeegan observes so well is that van Stockum hones in on the situations where the right thing to do is not obvious. 

  • Where one of the boys in the family is trying to protect his parents from involvement in his assistance to a downed airman.
  • Where the mother has trouble forgiving the occupying Germans for cruel actions taken against the Dutch people. 
I have read dozens of review of The Winged Watchman and this one really gets to the heart of its strong impact on, and success with, home-schooling parents and children.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK | May 1-7, 2017, 98th Annual

The 98th annual Children’s Book Week took place May 1–7 in more than 700 schools, libraries, bookstores, and community centers in all 50 states.

The annual event celebrates books for young people and the joy of reading. It is organized by the Children’s Book Council and its charitable arm, Every Child a Reader. 

Host institutions offered official events for children’s book lovers of all ages. See highlights from the festivities, including story times, scavenger hunts, author visits, costume parades, and more, here: