Search Results for: label/Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman – The Making of a Dictionary

The making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Simon Winchester. Harper Collins. Published in 1998.

The prompt for writing a quick review of this book is that I just started a third title by the same author, Simon Winchester, The Crack at the Edge of the World, and couldn’t help but remember with fondness – yes, I used the word ‘fondness’ in regard to reading a book about how a dictionary was written – when I read The Professor and the Madman. Winchester is to my knowledge the developer and foremost practitioner of an immensely entertaining historical-narrative literary style whereby he lures us into turning page after page (rapidly) of a history book by telling a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story that reads like pulp fiction, and yes, which is set within a larger historical context and moment.

Erik Larson followed the pattern in Devil in the White City , introducing us to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and how it changed the history of America through the lurid tale of a serial killer who was as big as Jack the Ripper before Jack found his first victim. In some parallel ways, Sebastian Junger employed this model, telling us about seemingly mundane things – the deep sea fishing industry, the physics of waves, the types of North Atlantic storms, and a little of the history of Gloucester, Massachusetts – through the sensational story of the crew of the Andrea Gail in his book The Perfect Storm, even better known for the George Clooney movie.

What is the historical setting and importance of the Professor and the Madman? The writing of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), of course. Now, without making any claims of being an academic, I must admit that topic kind of, sort of interested me anyway. I like the history of words and their definitions. But enough to read a book? I’m not sure. Even if it’s less than 300 pages? Still not sure. It may never have reached the top of the stack. But even if you aren’t that interested in what made the OED the finest reference work of its day – and perhaps the greatest reference ever created – the story of Dr. Charles Minor, the man who contributed thousands of entries, all painstakingly researched and neatly written from his home in Crowthorne, England, just 50 miles from Oxford, just might hook you.

What tied Minor to the OED and made his role so remarkable? Was it that he was an American creating something so peculiarly British? Nope. There was no snobbery as a sub theme. That he was a veteran of the Civil War, where he was surgeon for the troops of the North? Interesting, but not interesting enough to bring a dictionary to life. Was it that he maintained a long distance relationship with Professor James Murray – strictly by correspondence – for decades, despite numerous invitations from Murray to attend fundraising dinners or just stop by the office to meet due to his prolific 10 thousand entries? Not even close. Was it that he thought Irishmen were … and that one night he went out and … and because of that he ended up living in … ? Yes. Yes. And yes.

Spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know what each “yes” represents, now is the time to stop! [Read more…]

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What Is the Agency Model in Ebook Pricing?

what is the agency pricing model?Q:  What Is the agency model in eBook pricing?

A:  The agency model is when a reseller allows the publisher to set the price charged to its (the reseller’s) customers. The common agency model terms for eBooks have been that the publisher keeps 70% of the proceeds and the reseller earns a 30% commission. This is different from the traditional pricing model in the book publishing industry, where prices have been controlled by the reseller. In the traditional model, publishers sell their books to resellers at a discount of approximately 50% (legal and illegal discount variance is a topic for another day!). Resellers offer the books to consumers at whatever price they choose.

The “agency model” for eBook pricing is back in the news with a deal reached between Simon & Schuster (S&S) and Amazon (confirmed October 21, 2014), which S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy acknowledges is a “version” of the agency pricing model. [Read more…]

We’ll Be Friends Forever – RIP Ora Knies

Amy with her 109-year-old grandmother.

My wife Amy’s grandmother, Ora Zimmerman Knies, died in her sleep on June 11, 2010. She was 109 years old.

Three days later we gathered at Memaw’s funeral mass held at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Hermitage, Tennessee. She was survived by her three “boys,” 11 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and 19 great great grandchildren. She just missed holding a fifth generation of babies, with one of the great great’s due to have a child in a few weeks when she passed away.

Beyond savoring the memories and bonds of love and family, anyone who attended her funeral couldn’t help but reflect on all that Memaw had seen in her 109 active and colorful years of life. She was born January 13, 1901 – the year the first radio receiver picked up a transmission. Had she entered the world just two weeks earlier she would have been alive during three of the centuries of the Christian Era calendar.

Ora was born in the Territory of Oklahoma – it would not be admitted to statehood for another six years – and traveled cross country by horse-drawn carriage as a young girl when her family moved to Winchester, Tennessee.

The array of inventions and developments she witnessed in her lifetime is mind boggling – from the Wright Brothers engine powered airplane to commercial air travel and rockets and man landing on the moon; from the newspaper to the radio and on to the television, which itself morphed from black and white to technicolor with hundreds of stations; from the first Model-T rolling off the assembly line in Detroit in 1908 to the interstate highway system of the Eisenhower era; from penicillin and bubble gum in 1928 to the atomic bomb during World War II.

She witnessed the two world wars with Germany – the first by radio only and the second by radio and television. The day after her death, Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee landed in Germany to meet with Volkswaagen officials to discuss manufacturing opportunities in his state.

The United States of America has had 44 presidents in its history. Memaw lived during the presidency of 20 of them, from McKinley to Obama, and including her favorite, JFK.

Ora lived alone in her own house until 103, when she entered an assisted living facility. Her flower and vegetable gardens are still legendary. She drove her car for the last time on her 100th birthday. She did not hand the keys to her sons readily or happily and it took her a few years to forgive them – even though, according to the daughters-in-law, Memaw was pretty certain her boys had never really done anything wrong in life. She finally had to quit bowling in the Madison Bowling League when she was past the age of 100 due to hip problems.

Memaw’s last visit to our home was Christmas 2008 and she had a marvelous time, particularly looking through family photo albums. Amy had made memory books for Bo and Zach on their football seasons and after studying them several times, Ora proclaimed she was now a football fan. In fact, she wished she had learned to play.

Her one complaint about her assisted living residence was the food. She loved to have a home cooked meal and she participated in the preparation for Christmas Dinner by making her much requested peanut butter fudge. She sat by me at dinner and told me numerous times that we would be friends forever.

We all know that how we live our lives is what matters most. But most of us still have a fondness for the ongoing numbering of our days as well. If longetivity didn’t matter we wouldn’t work so hard to live longer.

For Memaw, quality and quantity were inseparable. She was one of those believers who received in abundance both of the blessings expressed in Psalm 91:16: “I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation” (NLT).

So Ora Zimmerman Knies, may I be so blessed, and yes, let’s be friends forever.

A Prayer for Job Promotion

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Dear Heavenly Father,

When so many people are out of work I am grateful that You have blessed me with the means to a livelihood. I know that with a roof over my head and food on the table I already live better than many in the world.

So it is with a sense of gratitude for all I already have and have been given that I come to You with the request for promotion. I truly believe You have planted in my heart the desire to grow in my skills, to assume greater responsibilities, to exercise leadership to a greater degree in ways that helps others to grow.

I pray first of all that You would help me to walk worthy of a promotion. Reveal in my heart and spirit ways that I need to grow and personally improve to be ready for promotion. I pray that You will bless my work and influence and that all I do will positively contribute to the growth of my company and the workers around me.  I pray that You will bring me and my work to the attention of those in positions to offer promotion.

But I affirm that promotion ultimately comes from You and I will not forget to thank and praise You for Your work on my behalf.

In the Name of the Lord – Amen

 

God will help us become the people we were meant to be, if only we will ask Him. – Hannah Whithall Smith

a prayer for a job promotion is from God's Help For Your Every Need, written by Mark Gilroy, published by Howard Books.From God’s Help by Mark Gilroy Published by Howard Books (Simon and Schuster), 2012