Episodes, Having Fun

25. Going to Bookish Extremes

 

The Book Owl Podcast is (almost) a year old! And like many people will do during milestone birthdays, The Book Owl has decided to take things to the extreme. Sorry, it doesn’t involve bungie jumping. In this episode we explore some bookish extremes from the biggest book to the biggest library, the oldest tome to the oldest bookstore, and much more. Fair warning…there is singing involved.

Mentioned in This Episode….

Like what you hear?

The (Rough) Transcript

Hey everyone, this is Tammie Painter and you’re listening to the Book Owl Podcast, the podcast where I entertain your inner book nerd with tales of quirky books and literary lore. 

Intro

So it’s Episode 25. And you’re now saying, so what. Well, right about a year ago (give or take a few day) I released the trailer for The Book Owl Podcast. Yep, it was my vocal debut…laaaa! I was as nervous as you can get without actually having heart failure. And before recording that trailer, and the first three or four episodes, if I’m being honest, I REALLY had to convince myself to get in front of the microphone. Now, recording is the part of putting these episodes together that I enjoy the most…cause I’m a big ol’ ham stuck in an introvert’s body.

And I can hear you saying, What is your point, you mad woman!? My point is The Book Owl Podcast is one year old. So Happy Birthday to the Book Owl!

As many people will do with milestone birthdays, the Book Owl is taking things to the extreme. No, not bungie jumping or parachuting…maybe I’ll save that for the 2nd birthday party. Instead, we’re looking at some extremes of book nerdy trivia. From the largest book to the oldest library, you’re going to have oodles of facts to annoy people with when we do ever get the chance to get together and are forced to make chit chat. You remember chitchat, right? Anyone? Anyone?

Starting Off With Thanks

But before we jump into the extremes of the book world, a triple round of thanks needs to be taken care of. First, I have to thank Ivonne for buying the Book Owl a cuppa as a way to show her support for the show. Ivonne is an Instagram buddy who I swear must be penpals with half the world. She creates some gorgeous letters, envelopes, and papery goodies I’d imagine must be a delight to get in the mail.

A second thanks goes yet again to Jonathon Pongratz for repeatedly sharing the show on his own Jaunts & Haunts blog. And a final bit of thanks goes to LaVelle who took the plunge and purchased some Book Owl swag. It looks like she got a few t-shirts with the Book Owl logo emblazoned across the front, so hopefully she’s enjoying those and sparking people’s curiosity about the show as she sports them around town.

Of course, if you like what you’re hearing, I’m just glad you’re listening, reviewing, and sharing, But if you are enjoying the show and want to lend the owl a little support, there’s loads of very inexpensive ways to do just that by popping into that Support link in the show notes..

Okay, let’s go to the extreme.

Defining a Book

So before we start this I’m going to put out a, I don’t know caveat, explanation, whatever. When I refer to “book” I mean an item made up of pages that is bound together and held in a cover of some sort. 

There are some things that are considered “books” that are actually just a series of tablets, or scrolls, or whatnot, but for this show, a book is what likely immediately comes to mind when someone says book. Not a bookie, that is something entirely different… and something you might want to avoid.

The Oldest Book

So let’s start off with the oldest book out there. And that would be The Golden Orphism Book. Orphism was a religion in Ancient Greece and in Thracia, which is now Bulgaria, and the religion was based around the story of Orpheus, which is actually one of my favorite Greek myths, so cool. But rather than contain that heartbreaking myth, the book is more of a handbook that describes the burial rites of the religion.

The book is 2,670 years old and was only found 70 years ago during a dig in Bulgaria. And it’s pretty small, only 5 cm tall, which is about 2 inches, and weighs right around 100g, or about 3.5 ounces. But for its small size, it’s pretty eye catching as its six pages are made of entirely of gold, hence its other not-so-clever name The Etruscan Gold Book…and I thought I was bad at coming up with titles. But wait, what’s with that Etruscan bit? Well, it was written in Etruscan. Again, not so clever with the naming. 

The Smallest Book

Okay, so at only a couple inches tall, that Etruscan book is kind of tiny, but it’s HUGE compared to the two smallest books in the world. And yeah, I had to cheat here and go with two because for some reason the book Teeny Ted from Turnip Town (great title, by the way) is touted as the smallest. It’s a mere 0.07 mm by 0.10 mm, that’s smaller than a poppy seed! It was created using nano imaging on 30 itty bitty sheets of silica. There were 100 copies made. But while you’re getting your copy, stop by the hardware store and grab a scanning electron microscope because that’s the only way you can read it.

Okay so that’s impressive, but a Russian man, Vladimir Aniskin, created, by hand mind you not with some fancy schmancy nano laser dohicky, a book that measures only .07 by .09 mm, making it 0.01mm smaller than the “smallest book”. So, I’m still confused as to why Teeny Ted is considered the smallest. 

Anyway, Vladimir’s book is made on sheets of super thin film and the crazy part is he bound them with thin wire so you can actually turn the pages, if you have a special tool to do so. And again, you’re going to be glad you picked up that electron microscope because you’ll also need it to read this book, so be sure to add that in to your book-buying budget for the month.

Most Expensive

Speaking of budgets, want to know what the most expensive book in the world is? Well, it’s a little tricky.

Okay, so let me explain…the most expensive book by purchase price was a copy of the Book of Mormon which sold for something like $34-ish million. The second priciest book at the auction house sold for nearly $31 million. And both of those were sold back in the 1990s. But due to adjusting for inflation and the perceived value of the work, that cheapo book is now ranked as the most expensive book in the world.

So what is this pricey book and who’s the luck owner? Well, it was bought by Bill Gates and is Leonardo da Vinci’a Codex Leicester, named for the Earl of Leicester who owned it before Mr. Microsoft. The book was created in 1506-1510 and is full of da Vinci’s notes on fossils, water flow, astronomy, it has sketches of various things from da Vinci’s imaginative mind, and is mostly written in his backwards, mirror handwriting. So it’s expensive sure, but at least buying a mirror to read it is cheaper than that electron microscope.

Largest Book

I like big books and I cannot lie? No? Well, if you can’t impress people with the most expensive book in the world, how about the biggest book in the world? This thing required all sorts of special equipment to put together and is even more impressive because it was entirely handmade using traditional bookbinding methods. It was written, illustrated, and put together in Hungary by Belga Varga. And I don’t know maybe this guy was really into large print books, but this thing is 4.2 m by 3.8 m, which is 14 by 12 feet; it weighs 1420 kg, or just over 3100 pounds; and six people and a special tool are required to turn the pages. 

But don’t worry, it won’t take long to read, because it only has 346 pages. And I bet a lot of that is taken up with pictures since the book is all about the animals, plants, and geology of Begla’s small village. 

Longest Book

But what will take you a long time to read is what’s been deemed the world’s longest book. This is the romantic tale Artaméne, ou le Grand Cyrus and was written in the 17th century by Madeline de Scudery who apparently had a lot of time on her hands. It’s so long it couldn’t be bound into a single book, and was instead put into 10 volumes of romance novel splendor…no word on if Fabio was on any off the covers. 

Okay, so how big is it? It’s a whopping 2.1 million words. To put that into perspective, the average novel these days is about 60 to 80,000 words, and the massive tome War & Peace is about 550,000 words. 

So, are you ready to tackle it? Well, you’re in luck because Artaméne is in the public domain. But fair warning before you dive in, it does only get a 2.9 star average on Goodreads.

Oldest Library

So, let’s close the books and take a look at extreme places to get some books. And just as we started with the world’s oldest book, let’s start with the world’s oldest library. Or let’s try to because again I am a little confused on this bit of trivia. 

So, the place that’s touted as the oldest library was started in 859 CE. It’s the al-Qarawiyyin Library (AL – CORE – OH – WEE- INN) and was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, who was the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant and she also founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University, so kudos to her! And I did practice that pronunciation with How to Pronounce dot com, so I hope I’ve got it close.

So Fatima’s library fell into disrepair and had to be shut down for a while except to certain scholars. Well, in 2012 a renovation project began, and the library was reopened to the public in 2017.

Okay, so 859 CE, that’s pretty old and like I said, it’s ranked as the oldest, but there is another library at the foot of Mt Sinai that was started around 550 CE and this is the Saint Catherine’s Monastery library and it’s been in continuous use ever since it began. So I’m still not sure why this one isn’t considered the oldest and I couldn’t find a concrete answer to that. Maybe because it’s not exactly a public library, and it’s more of a religious library? I don’t know. So if you happen to know why, please let me know because it’s really bugging me.

Anyway, St. Catherine’s is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it does have the second largest collection of ancient manuscripts, the library in Vatican City has the largest…hey, another extreme and I didn’t even try!

Largest Library

I like big libraries and I cannot lie? Still no? Okay. Well, the battle for extremes continues because we’ve also got some contention for the largest library in the world. And by largest, I don’t mean by square footage, I mean by collection size. 

Because according to the Wikipedia gurus, both the British Library and the Library of Congress have 170 million items in their collections. Although the British Library I think might be trying to squeeze a few more items in by listing their collection size at 170 to 200 million (you know, like they’re not sure…or more like they don’t want to concede to us pesky Americans.). Fair enough. Still, number funding or not, these collections are impressive because the next largest in the list is the Shanghai Library with a mere 59 million items. It’s like they’re not even tying to win. Sheesh.

Oldest Bookstore

And finally we come to our last extreme…the world’s oldest bookstore. And after seeing this place, I really want to go there. It’s Betrand’s Bookstore located in Lisbon, Portugal. And it opened its doors in 1732. Unfortunately, the bookstore itself doesn’t date to 1732 it was toppled in a massive earthquake in 1755. But fear not, the bookstore was rebuilt soon after the earthquake an so can still claim it’s status as oldest. Hoorah for you Betrand’s and some day when I can travel again, I will be browsing your aisles. 

So that’s it for extremes, except now the Book Owl is wondering where the largest birthday cake might be. So while the baker’s get the ovens ready, how about a few updates?

Update Time

I am very very very happy to say that the worst is over in my writing world. For now anyway. 

I just wrapped up the final big edit on the third Cassie Black book, which means the hardest work for the trilogy is done. I’ll still be doing another proofread of book two and possibly give book three one or two more passes, but these really are just going to be proofreading and making teeny tiny tweaks to the language. Which is good because my red pen is nearly out of ink after the last blast of edits I did on both books earlier this month. 

And that was a bit of misery. I read book two and edited it one week, mostly minor edits, but still time consuming. Then the following week I read and edited book three, and that was a pretty big edit going over my own changes and suggestions from my beta readers. And seriously, I hate my own words at this point. But at the end of that second week, I felt a ginormous amount of relief. 

As I’ve said before, I have had more fun than ever writing the trilogy, but the pace to get these last two books done and ready for my review team and for publication has been insane. 

Speaking of review teams, if you want to join mine, there is a link in the show notes to apply. It’s a quick and easy application, but if you like to review books and if you want to see my stuff before anyone else, I’d encourage you to check it out.

Outro

Okay my book loving friends, that is it for this birthday bonanza. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you did, please please please share it with one other person, leave a review, or pop into that link to show your support. Have a great couple weeks and I will hoot at you next time.

Credits

The book owl podcast is a production of daisy dog media, copyright 2021, all rights reserved. The theme music was composed by Kevin Macleod. Audio processing by auphonic .com. Video production by Headliner dot app.

Book Bargains, libraries

Who Doesn’t Love a Trashy Novel?

Hello Book Nerds of Bloglandia!

So we can all admit there’s some pretty trashy novels out there, right? But what about books that are literally in the trash? As a book lover, it boggles my mind that anyone would throw out a book. Actually, it sounds like the set up for a book nerd-themed horror movie!

After all, why throw out a book when you can pass it on and expand another person’s mind with rollicking tales, high-stakes adventure, and loads of literacy?

Well, in Turkey, there’s some garbage collectors who felt the same way.

See, Durson Ipek was out doing his garbage route one day when he found a bag of books chucked in the bin. He kept it and encouraged his fellow workers to do the same with books they found. Eventually, they had collected a couple hundred books that were in terrific shape.

And what did they do with those books?

These book heroes started a library!! The original library was in a disused brick making building and opened in 2017. And it received a HUGE amount of support from the community and the local government.

Today, this trashy library has over 6000 books in its collection, including a children’s section, fiction, comic books, books devoted to science, and even foreign language works.

I wonder what Oscar the Grouch would think of the library?

Anyway, you don’t have to go digging in the trash to discover something new to read (unless you want to, I won’t judge….much). All you need to do is browse the book bundles below.

Please, Please, PLEASE Do Take a Peek….

I know you’re used to seeing mostly fantasy and sci-fi bundles from me, but since The Undead Mr. Tenpenny has a strong paranormal mystery as its central plot line, I’ve also been invited to join in on some marvelous mystery collections this month.

As with all these bundles, this is an affordable and effective way for me and all the hard-working indie authors involved to get our books noticed.

Trouble is, while good for my budget, I’m only allowed to participate if I get readers to browse what’s on offer. So please do check out the bundles…I mean, it beats digging around in the trash, right?

And yes, your bundle browsing is a huge support!! You don’t have to buy a thing, but please do take a peek…you never know, you might just discover your next favorite author.

And of course, if you do buy anything, let me know what you selected. I’m always curious about what you’re reading!

Here’s what’s on offer this month in mystery, thrillers, fantasy, and more….

Explore what’s new in cozy mystery..

Get some thrills, solve some whodunnits…

How about a few fantastic deals…

Or perhaps some SFF Adventure for less than $5!


 Thanks for browsing… It really is a wonderful way to show your support!

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Sign up for my newsletter (there’s a free gift if you do!)

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Apply for my Review Team

 

 

Oscar Image from https://www.kidsnews.com.au/arts/sesame-street-farewells-creator-of-big-bird-and-oscar/news-story/4805b295d1ff6cdf4a0bb9565f76c785

Book Bargains

Three Ways to Change Your Brain with Fantasy Fiction

Hello Book Nerds of Bloglandia!

Studies show that reading changes your brain for the better in many, MANY ways. Of course, us bibliophiles already knew our brains were tiptop thanks to our love of books, but it’s nice having the scientists confirm that for us.

So really, the book bundles below aren’t just a way to promote the hard work of indie authors like myself, they’re a way to help keep your brain healthy. Isn’t that wonderful of me?

But before we get to your brain boosting book bundles, a quick reminder….

Please, Please, PLEASE Do Take a Peek

As with all these bundles, this is one of the most affordable and effective ways for me and all the fabulous authors involved to get our books noticed.

Trouble is, while good for my budget, I’m only allowed to participate if I get readers like you to browse what’s on offer. So please do check out at least one of the bundles…after all I am helping improve your brain, so it’s a fair trade, right?

You don’t have to buy a thing, but please do take a peek…you never know, you might just discover your next favorite tale.

Alright, Onto the Triple Hit of Brain Juice

The first collection of books was put together by the fantabulous fantasy author Laura Greenwood and features a nice pile of urban and contemporary fantasy stories just waiting to improve your brain function.

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This second group of make-your-brain-happy books was cobbled together by Jay Toney, author of tantalizing tales, and features all manner of fantasy and sci-fi adventure. And every book should be on sale for $5(USD) or less. Bargain brain boost!!

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And last but not least, this terrific collection of neuron nudgers steps into the paranormal side of fantasy, because there’s nothing like escaping reality for a little cerebellar serenity.

 

Happy Browsing!!

Of course, if you do buy anything, let me know what you selected. I’m always curious about what you’re reading! Oh, and if you want to see an article about those brain studies, you can find one HERE.

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Let’s Stay in Touch!

Sign up for my newsletter (there’s a free gift if you do!)

BookBub | Instagram | Twitter

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Apply for my Review Team

Updates

It’s Time to Celebrate The Undead Mr. Tenpenny!

Hello Book Lovers!

Don’t get confused, it is indeed Wednesday, not my usual Thursday posting day. You’ll be hearing about this announcement in tomorrow’s episode, but I just couldn’t hold off celebrating yesterday’s release of The Undead Mr. Tenpenny!!

Below, I’ve pasted all the information you could ever want about this darkly humorous paranormal mystery/contemporary fantasy…okay, it’s probably more info than you could ever want, but seriously, I’m super excited about this book, the reviews it’s earned, and the trilogy as a whole.

So, if you haven’t already seen this on my main blog, keep scrolling to see….

  • The Sales-y Bit – with links to buy ebooks and paperbacks of The Undead Mr. Tenpenny
  • The Happy Bit – reviews from a few of my early readers
  • The Goofy Bit – the Book Launch Video Extravaganza where I share the stories behind the story of Mr. Tenpenny
  • The Informative Bit – with the book description and a sample chapter

Enjoy! And I will be back to hoot at you tomorrow with the super sappy, lovey-dovey Episode 23!

(reposted from TammiePainter.com/blog)

Hello Bloglandia!

Break out the bubbly because it’s finally time to say…

Happy Release Day to The Undead Mr. Tenpenny!

Ugh, and what a slog it’s been to get to this day.

As some of you know, I had planned the release of this book for last fall, but I think we can all agree that no one’s plans for 2020 panned out quite as they should have.

I’m glad I waited, though. Working through the trilogy as a whole has really brought a nice cohesiveness, consistency, and, and, and, argghhhh, I can’t think of another suitable word that starts with CO. Colorado-ness? No, probably not.

Anyway, the series is far stronger thanks to the delay and I’m thrilled to get the first installment out into the world.

Okay, let’s get going with this launch, let’s look at what readers are saying, let’s get you a sample chapter, and let’s make sure anyone new is brought up to speed…

Let’s Get This Out of the Way

Before we get too deep into the celebrations, I need to try to sell you stuff.

To anyone who pre-ordered The Undead Mr. Tenpenny, THANK YOU! It’s always a thrill to see I have a few eager beavers out there.

For those of you who haven’t ordered the book yet, but are ready to get your copy, the links you need are right here…

EBOOKS….

PAPERBACKS

These are a little more complicated because, other than Amazon, I’m not sure exactly which retailers are carrying the book just yet.

  • For Amazon paperbacks (available now):
  1. Follow this link: https://books2read.com/CassieBlack1
  2. Tap the Kindle icon
  3. Select the paperback option on the book’s Amazon page.
  4. Or go directly to your region’s Amazon store and enter the book’s Amazon Identifier: B08WVC5D8N (this gives more accurate results than searching for the book title)
  • For Non-Amazon Retailers (more stores will be rolling out over the next week or so…sometimes the paperback gods don’t move as quickly as I’d like):
  1. Search or ask for the book by its title, or
  2. Search for the book by its non-Amazon ISBN: 978 138 697 7674

Maybe You’re Not Convinced Yet?

Okay, if you’re still not quite convinced this book is for you, perhaps a few comments from some delighted readers might entice you…

“The Undead Mr. Tenpenny is a clever, hilarious romp through a new magical universe that can be accessed through the closet of a hole-in-the-wall apartment in Portland, Oregon.”

—Sarah Angleton, author of Gentleman of Misfortune

“When I saw the book title…my first thought was, “another zombie apocalypse”. A wonderful surprise greeted me with an entertaining story that was written with humor, a great story line and new twist on the undead.”

—J. Tate, Eugene Reviewer

“Man oh man, did I love this book! …The plot was great, and got even better as things progressed…. I think the biggest pro of this book is the characters.”

—Jonathon Pongratz, author of Reaper: Aftermath

“…suffused with dark humor and witty dialogue, of the sort that Painter excels at…a fun read for anyone who enjoys fast-paced, somewhat snarky, somewhat twisted, fantasy adventures.”

—Berthold Gambrel, author of Vespasian Moon’s Fabulous Autumn Carnival

“…a fun and entertaining read. Great wit too.”

—Carrie Rubin, author of The Bone Curse

“Wow and wow again! I absolutely loved this book! You get such a feel for the characters and the story is so fast paced you don’t want to put it down.”

—Goodreads Reviewer

Or Maybe You’ve Never Met Mr. Tenpenny

There’s three ways to learn more about this book: You can peruse the description below, you can read a sample chapter (also below), and/or you can watch some goofy videos.

For the goofy videos…

If you haven’t caught the first two parts of “The Undead Mr. Tenpenny Book Launch Video Extravaganza”, here’s your chance. More parts are coming soon, and I know you’d really hate to get behind on the show, but I refuse to be held responsible if you lose your lunch at the sight of me.

  • Part One (beware, there’s talk of pustules) can be seen HERE
  • Part Two (in which I explain how a funeral inspired an entire trilogy) can be seen HERE
  • Part Three (in which you can learn the furry secret behind the names in the books) can be seen HERE
  • Part Four (where I tell you all about my favorite part of the novel…the desserts!) can be seen HERE
The goofy face behind the words.

If you’re looking for that description…

Work at a funeral home can be mundane. Until you accidentally start bringing the dead back to life.

Cassie Black works at a funeral home. She’s used to all manner of dead bodies. What she’s not used to is them waking up. Which they seem to be doing on a disturbingly regular basis lately.

Just when Cassie believes she has the problem under control, the recently-deceased Busby Tenpenny insists he’s been murdered and claims Cassie might be responsible thanks to a wicked brand of magic she’s been exposed to. The only way for Cassie to get her life back to normal is to tame her magic and uncover Mr. Tenpenny’s true killer.

Simple right? Of course not. Because while Cassie works on getting her newly-acquired magic sorted, she’s blowing up kitchens, angering an entire magical community, and discovering her past is more closely tied to Busby Tenpenny than she could have ever imagined.

If you like contemporary fantasy with snarky humor, unforgettable characters, and paranormal mystery such as Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, you’ll find it hard to pry yourself away from this first book of the Cassie Black Trilogy.

  • Selected as one of Apple’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021
  • Winner of the Novel Excerpt Prize from the League of American PEN Women
  • Finalist in the Yeah You Write! Novel Contest

And Finally, Here’s a Quick Excerpt…

Prologue – The Unexpected

I work in a funeral home. I’m used to seeing all manner of dead bodies. I’m used to bodies ranging from young to old, fat to thin, dark to pale. I’m used to the peacefully deceased to the horrifically killed. I’m used to them lying there still, silent, and slowly decomposing. 

What I am not used to, is them getting up and walking away. 

Which is why when Mr. Boswick — he of the untimely coronary embolism — started drumming his fingers against the cold surface of the metal work table as I added the final touches to his makeup job, well I’d like to tell you I kept my cool, that I maintained my composure, but that’d be a lie. 

Nope, I screamed like a baby boomer who’s just lost every dime in her 401K, then promptly upended my tray of cosmetics as I jumped several feet backward. Five weeks and two walking bodies later, and I’m still scraping beige powder out of the oddest places.

As the cloud of talcum-soft haze filled the chilly workroom, Mr. Boswick sat up with a grunt, put his hands to his ears, and gave me the dirtiest would-you-shut-the-hell-up look I’ve ever seen on a guy — dead or alive.

Still giving me The Look and moving with uncertain slowness, Mr. Boswick eased himself off the table. His legs trembled a little as his feet and legs took their owner’s weight for the first time in several days. I could have taken him then. I could have just pushed him over and hogtied him, but let me tell you, no matter how many zombie movies you’ve seen or novels you’ve read, no matter how well you can suspend belief, you still go around living your life assuming the Zombie Apocalypse is something that happens to other people.

And so, rather than attack, double tap, or run, I stood there getting coated in Dewy Chiffon dust while Mr. Boswick took two clumsy steps with his hands held out like an unsteady toddler. 

He looked back and forth between the two doorways in his line of sight. First one, then the other, then back to the first, then he headed toward Door Number Two. Unfortunately, this first effort at post-mortem decision making landed him in our storage closet, but we here at Wood’s Funeral Home don’t deduct points for guessing. Standing amongst a year’s supply of paper towels and bottles of extra-strength cleaning solution, Mr. Boswick turned to me with a question on his heavily made-up face.

I suppose I should have rushed over, slammed the closet door, locked him in, and burned the place down to save humanity, but at this point my neurons were more than a little numb with shock and were refusing to chat with one another. Instead of being the hero, I pointed to Door Number One above which shone the green glow of an exit sign. Mr. Boswick gave a little nod of thanks before shuffling to and out the door.

With my brain operating about as quickly as a dial-up modem from 1992, I glanced down at the metal work table. To all appearances it was empty, but I reached out and patted it just to make sure all the chemicals I work around weren’t giving me hallucinations. With a grimace, my hand landed on a cold, smooth surface that was definitely lacking the corporeal remains of Mr. Boswick. Then my eyes caught the photo of him I’d been working from. The photo his family had loaned us.

His family! If he tried to get to his family—

And there we have it, folks. Miracle of all miracles, Cassie Black’s brain is functioning once again.

 

More Fun for the Week Ahead….

Daily details of what’s in store….

  • Monday – The Inspiration for The Undead Mr. Tenpenny (with video)
  • Tuesday – Release Day! Links and a repost of a stellar review. (no video, phew)
  • Wednesday – Double dose of videos. 1) The secret of my character names, and 2) Why my magic system made me drool more than once
  • Thursday – Oops, I forgot to tell you about the book. I do so in this post (with video) where I might also toss in a sample chapter.
  • Friday – I had too much fun with cultural references in the book, and thought I’d share a few (with video)
  • Saturday – Paperback show off!! What not to do with paperback design, and the final result after fixing it (with video)
  • Sunday – A break from my books to post about what I read in February
  • Wednesday (3 March) – Finally, what’s coming up next (with video)

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Book History, Episodes

22. The Devil’s in the Details

 

Back in the day, even printing a Bible required getting in league with the devil…printer devils, that is. Discover the legends and lores in this re-released and re-mastered version of a Book Owl classic…you know, back when I was beyond nervous when facing the microphone!

(This is a re-release of Episode 2 – Making a Deal with the Devil). There’s a new intro and the audio has been re-processed.)

Like what you hear?

The (Rough) Transcript

New Intro

(Not transcribed, but let’s just say I’ve been drowning in writing chores and didn’t have time to research, write, record, and edit a new episode this week. I will be back in a couple weeks with a new episode – hopefully – and a special announcement.)

Old Intro

Hey everyone, this is Tammie Painter and you’re listening to the Book Owl Podcast, the podcast where I entertain your inner book nerd with tales of quirky books and literary lore.

So, these days you can click a button and have most any book printed on demand and in your hands in days, but it wasn’t always so quick and easy. And no, I’m not referring tot the days when you actually had to get off your butt and go to the bookstore and buy a book.

It wasn’t all that long ago that took a lot of effort to make a book. In fact, if you wanted a book printed you might even have had to make a deal with the devil….even if that book was a bible.

Sponsor Break

Before we delve into this devilish episode it’s time for a tiny sponsor break. I know, I know, no one likes ads, but this will be quick and painless. Podcasts aren’t the cheapest things to run. There’s hosting costs, equipment, and let me tell you, they take a lot of time. So, if you like what you’re hearing and if you’re able to, you can show your appreciation and support the podcast by visiting the book owl podcast dot com slash support where you’ll find several super inexpensive ways to help keep the show running.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad, was it. Now, let’s get on with the show and the devil really is in the details with this one.

How to Print a Book…Back in the Day

So even though we’re talking about devils, there’s no need to fear for your immortal soul (unless you’ve been very naughty). See back in the day, if you wanted a book or a newspaper, you had no choice…you had to get in league with the devil…a printer’s devil to be exact.

Of course the printing press is an invention worshipped by book nerds and we’ll explore it’s story some other time, but for now just know that up until relatively recently to make a book or newspaper, every single letter and every single space or punctuation mark on every single printed page had to arranged by a human hand…a very deft human hadn’t at that.

Okay, that’s bad enough to imagine, but not only did these someones have to lay down the letters of every word, they also had to do it in reverse so the words once printed would read correctly. So anyone out there complaining about how tricky it can be to format a document in Word, believe me, you’ve got nothing to complain about.

Ooh, Devils!!!

Anyway, as you can imagine, the work of a printer and typesetter was tedious, labor intensive work. But that work would be made a tiny bit easier if you had an assistant. And that assistant was called a printer’s devil.

This was usually a young boy, possibly an apprentice, whose main tasks would be to mix the ink and to fetch the letters as needed and to put the used letters back in the right place. And even though it’s highly likely that there were some serious child labor laws being broken, this wasn’t unskilled labor because these kids had to be somewhat literate in order to fetch the correct letter. Think about it, if you’re typesetting a word like SHOT you certainly don’t want some illiterate rapscallion mixing up your O’s and your I’s.

And there were some famous little devils, including Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and John Kellogg (yes, Mr Cornflakes and healthy living himself).

What’s in a Demonic Name, Part One

Alright none who can remember their grade school days on the playground know that little boys can be hellions, but why were these particular lads called devils?

There’s actually no clear answer on this, which of course means a slew of tales have sprouted up to answer it. Some of the tales are downright dull, while others have a wonderful dose of embellishment to them.

So the most boring explanation says that the fingers of these boys would be stained black from the ink. Since Satan is the lord of darkness, the dark fingers lead people to call the kids devils. Told you that was boring. Also, I would imagine the typesetters themselves had stained fingers as well, so the explanation also falls flat on my logic meter.

What’s in a Demonic Name, Part Two

The second tale is slightly more interesting and provides a nice little play on words. Okay, so the little letters that had to be arranged were cast onto tiny pieces metal. If you’ve seen how small the print is on old timey newspapers, you’ll get an idea of just how tiny those metal pieces were.

Anyway, this metal wasn’t titanium or anything and after so many uses the raised letters would wear down and anything printed using those letters would make the reader wonder if they’d developed sudden onset glaucoma.

Instead of tormenting their customers with having to needlessly visit the eye doctor, although that could have been a good side swindle, the worn type was tossed into a box so the metal could be melted down and re-cast. That box was called a hellbox and since it was these kids tossing things into the hellbox, they earned the name devils.

What’s in a Demonic Name, Part Three (My Favorite)

That’s not a bad behind the name story, but possibly my favorite one even though it’s a bit of a stretch starts with a partnership gone bad.

So Mr Printing Press himself, Johannes Gutenberg, had a business partner named Johann FUST – and no, I don’t know if you were required to be named John to work in the printing business. After his invention started revolutionizing the world, Big G started getting a big head. FUST got annoyed with Gutenberg’s attitude so he up and left one day. And he didn’t leave empty handed…he took all the machinery.

Right around this time the French court of Louis XI needed some new bibles. FUST nabbed up the commission. He also nabbed a fair amount of extra money for this commission because he told the king and all the king’s men that the bibles would be hand copied. This was how books were made before the printing press, and because it took a lot more work, it raised the price of each book.

After a reasonable amount of time FUST delivered the books…probably with a guilty twitch to his ink-stained fingers.

So, you know how when you come home with new books from the library or bookstore and you have to thumb through all of them? Well, Louis who must have a huge book nerd, did the same thing. As he was flipping and enjoying that new book smell, Louis noticed all the bibles were eerily similar. Too similar. After all, hand copying is often accompanied with transcription errors, ink blotches, and other problems.

But all these bibles were the exact same.

Now you’re probably thinking an advisor should go up to Louis and say that, “Hey we got this guy FUST who used to work with that printer guy Gutenberg, maybe he printed these bibles.” But that didn’t happen. I mean, this was the king after all and you don’t go around telling the king he got duped. So, the only excuse for such perfection had to have been that the devil had his hand in the bibles’ creation. FUST who might have only been accused of fraud ended up being jailed for witchcraft…and I bet Gutenberg was laughing the whole time.

Anyway, in a very roundabout way, this supposedly led to the term printer’s devils.

What’s in a Demonic Name, Part Four (The Most Logical)

There’s a fourth and final story, one that combines legend with logic, and to me this one makes the most sense.

When printing presses started to spread out across Europe the printers decided they needed their own patron demon ( because, who doesn’t, right?). His name was Titivillus. This wasn’t a newbie on the demon block. He’d been the patron demon of scribes and was the go-to demon to blame when a scribe made a mistake in his manuscript copying. Talk about blame shifting.

In the printing world, Titivillus was a trickster who would sneak in and, when no one was looking, rearrange the type leading to misspelled words…which is an excuse I’m going to start using in my own books and newsletters! Since the assistants were the ones bringing the letters, those kids must be in league with this demon and therefore they earned the name of printers devils.

Not bad, right?

Exorcists Need Not Apply

Anyway, wherever their name came from, printers devils were hard working little lads well into the early 1900s. As different methods of setting type and more efficient ways of printing evolved, the need for devils declined and soon devils were gone from the print shop altogether.

And not one single exorcist was needed.

You Want One More, Don’t You?

So that’s it for printer’s devils. Or is it? With every episode I provide my newsletter recipients some extra tidbit related to the show. And with this episode, they’ll be getting one more printer devil story straight from 1960s television. If you’re not already part of the flock, sign up for The Book Owl Podcast Newsletter at the book owl podcast dot com slash contact.

Update Time

Okay, one quick update to wrap things up. When I was first planning out this podcast, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my favorite shows and release episodes every single week. Now, if you saw the list of topics I’ve got jotted down in Ye Olde Podcast Notebook, you’d know I have plenty of material to do just that. What I don’t have is the time.

My primary focus, shall we say my day job, is writing and to keep churning out books, I’d basically have to give up on sleeping, eating, and cleaning out the guinea pig cages to be able to write, record, and edit a podcast episode every week. Hopefully, once I get the hang of all this podcasting busy work, I’ll be able to do weekly shows, but for now and probably for at least the first couple months, I’m going to keep myself from going bonkers by only doing biweekly shows which will appear every other Thursday.

Thanks and See You Later

Thanks for listening everyone. If you enjoyed this episode I’d love it if you could leave a review or simply tell someone about the show. If you do want to leave a review, you can do that in your favorite podcast app or on Podchaser, the IMDB of podcasts and I’ll toss a link to that in the show notes. Or, feel free to email me at the book owl podcast dot com slash contact. And, like I said, if you want to get even more out of each episode, be sure to subscribe to the book owl podcast newsletter on that same page.

Again, thanks for listening and I will hoot at you next time!

Credits

The Book Owl Podcast is a production of Daisy Dog Media, copyright 2021 all rights reserved. The theme music was composed by Kevin Macleod. Audio processing by Auphonic.com