Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Quotations, Epigraphs and Blurbers

I've added three fields to Common Knowledge, fun fields that should keep the more obsessive of us busy for a while, and which move us somewhat closer to being the "IMDB of books"—quotations, epigraphs and blurbers.

Quotations. Members have been wanting a place to stick interesting or important quotations for some time, often keeping them in their quotations field.

There are, of course, sites devoted to literary quotes. But none can match their quotes against the books in your own library, giving you more incentive to add them. Together with first and last words, added recently, I foresee all manner of fun applications—guessing games blog widgets that cycle through quotes from your library, etc.

Example: The Stars my Destination (Tiger! Tiger!) by Alfred Bester

Epigraphs. Users asked for this to be separated from quotations.

Example: I am in an epigraph free-room. Help!

Blurbers. If you're not in publishing, you may be unfamiliar with this term. A blurber is someone who blurbs your book, writing up a very short review for your publisher, who selects a sentence or two and puts it on the back cover. If/when your book goes into paperback or gets reprinted, the blurbs may be replaced by quotes from professional reviewers, or they may not.

Often labeled "Advanced Praise for" or something like that, blurbs are an essential part of the authorial economy, and not always a pretty part, as Rebecca Johnson wrote in Slate:
"So much of blurbing process is a corrupt quid pro quo. You praise my book; I'll praise yours. In the '80s, Spy magazine ran a monthly column on the very topic called 'Log Rolling in Our Time.'"
I'm looking forward to seeing this information develop. It's well known that blurb relationships are reciprocal, and that some people write blurbs for more books than--it seems--they could ever read.

Example: Hidden Iran by Ray Takeyh, with the ubiquitous Fareed Zakaria and Zbibniew Brzeznski.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim I didn't know you had an old UK edition of The Stars My Destination (or Tiger,Tiger as it was published). 'I kill you filthy' is the right catchphrase with became 'I kill you deadly' in the UK editions. The latest SF Masterwork has corrected that and combined the best of both editions.

I've fixed it on the work page - so people don't be surprised when it looks different

9/02/2008 4:41 AM  
Blogger Nicholas Whyte said...

Any chance of adding a field for the dedication, if any? Or does it count as an epigraph?

9/02/2008 5:31 AM  
Blogger NJTrout said...

I'm usually pretty good at these things, but where can I add a quotation? Looked every where and cannot figure it out.


9/02/2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

TIM!!! The new fields are, of course, brilliant. I've even kept journals in the past, trying to maintain a record of favorite quotes from books, but I can never manage to get them all in the same place besides in my library, between the covers of their books.

NOW I'm going to have to go through my books, pull out ALL of my favorites, ALL of the books that have lines I know I've mentally highlighted, used for e-mail signatures, whatever, and add them here. In all of my "free time," of course. Gah!

Thanks for giving me one more project that's going to take the place of actually *reading*... :)

9/02/2008 10:37 AM  
Blogger Jesse Wiedinmyer said...

Beautiful. I take back everything I was saying about you, Spalding.

9/02/2008 5:25 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

With the addition of blurbers, I just wanted to share one of the funniest I've ever seen personally and I'll soon add it to the book as well. On the front cover of Kinley MacGregor's book "Sword of Darkness" is the blurb: "Kinley MacGregor writes fantasy the way I would." - Sherrilyn Kenyon. Kinley Macgregor is a pseudonym of Sherrilyn Kenyon. Hilarious.

9/02/2008 8:16 PM  
Blogger amandaellis said...

Great idea. A spoiler-cut feature would be great to have for when you're writing reviews or Talk posts.

9/03/2008 3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zbibniew? Must be an alternate spelling. ;-)

3/18/2009 3:12 PM  
Anonymous elenchus said...

Came to this late and may be missing relevant posts elsewhere, BUT ... I'll put in a plug for some of what Tim hinted at in Sep 08:

- a Quotations from my Library widget (sortable by collection of course)

- a searchable database of all quotations

- a list (similar to Most Read or Most Wishlisted) of recent quotations from LT members

Really love the feature and will go back and move my quotations, currently embedded in my reviews.

7/15/2009 12:11 AM  

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