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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Slow Books

I’m always on the lookout for good writing and liked a couple of sites I came upon in the last few days
First Public Books - a bi-monthly review “dedicated to books and the arts – created by and for a transnational community of writers, artists and activists
Why, it asks, call a review “Public Books” when new publics and platforms are changing how we read and revolutionizing the book form?
Even as many bemoan its decline, the book is gaining new life as a symbol both for deep engagement and for the inventions transforming reading into an increasingly shared, fast-paced experience. The title Public Books encapsulates our goal of combining the liveliness, timeliness, and communality of public life with the craft, reflection, and care associated with books at their best.

This reminded me of the idea of “slow-books” which seems one whose time has not yet come. Although The Atlantic had an article about it in March 2012, nothing seems to have come of it. I offered a few months back a definition which I should perhaps patent–
"Slow books" (like slow food) stand against marketing and "commodification" and are about the relationships of authentic people - whether as writers, readers, craftsmen or suppliers. “Slow food" is an entire process - it is the preparation, production and consumption. And abhors the formulaes, specialisation and slave labour which the logic of modern production and ownership system require eg in MacDonald's and Amazon .
I would therefore suggest "slow books" have 3 distinctive qualities-
SOCIAL - the reading experience is shared, whether through book clubs, reading groups or blog sites. 
IMPACT – the book should make us see the world in a different way! All types of books should be included eg history, the arts and the social sciences - if written clearly and showing originality. We are talking artistic sustenance here!
INTEGRATED - seek to sustain the actual crafts and passions involved in getting a book to us ie including small publishers; book design, typeface and binding skills; independent and second-hand bookshops,

The second site worth a mention is Heathwood Press whose mission is three-fold:
1) To understand the fundamental human issues that prevent individual and collective harmony and well-being, and that impede social progress as well as the healthy development of Western civilization;
2) To identify catalysts for change on a fundamental level across the different spheres of society;
3) To engage with researchers, policy makers and most importantly the general public in effort to promote critical dialogue as well as active leadership and participation in the manifestation of social change

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