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17 February 2007

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 17 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"What is said in private is heard like a peal of thunder in heaven."

. . (191) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

An American and Canadian Crude Look at Oil


Blogaulaire suspects (backed by careful observation) that the average reader of Cheap Priceless Editions is both a practical person (always on the look-out for a good deal) and a rather bookish person . . perhaps with literary tastes, endowed with a progressive outlook, worldview, et cetera.

Does looking at raw numbers give you the hives? Are you reaching for an ointment for your urticaria, after reading figures for economic projections? Relax, there won't be a test, not even answers from me about any of this.

Call the STATISTICS portion of this post laconic. Terse news. It gets right to the point of all the rest.

We are just introducing -- call it a game, call it a word feature (more on that in upcoming posts as the blog here evolves on its own course - so STAY TUNED TO THIS WEB ADDRESS). But first, the eye candy:

February 18 : Chinese New Year
on the grounds of
the world famous
Calgary Exhibition & Stampede

The Biggest Game in US - CAN Trade -- PETROLEUM

Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries:
Highlights Released; February 16, 2007

"Preliminary monthly data on the origins of crude oil imports in December 2006 has been released and it shows that three countries have each exported more than 1.20 million barrels per day to the United States.

Including those countries, a total of five countries exported over 1.00 million barrels per day of crude oil to the United States (see table below). The top five exporting countries accounted for 69 percent of United States crude oil imports in December while the top ten sources accounted for approximately 88 percent of all U.S. crude oil imports.

The top sources of US crude oil imports for December were Canada (1.829 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.471 million barrels per day), Mexico (1.245 million barrels per day), Venezuela (1.045 million barrels per day), and Nigeria (1.010 million barrels per day).

The rest of the top ten sources, in order, were Angola (0.610 million barrels per day), Algeria (0.421 million barrels per day), Iraq (0.419 million barrels per day), Ecuador (0.254 million barrels per day), and Kuwait (0.163 million barrels per day).

Total crude oil imports averaged 9.584 million barrels per day in December, which is a decrease of 0.253 million barrels per day from November 2006.

Canada remained the largest exporter of total petroleum products in December, exporting 2.409 million barrels per day to the United States, which was a slight decrease from last month (2.598 thousand barrels per day). The second largest exporter of total petroleum products was Saudi Arabia with 1.491 million barrels per day."

What do you say to all that? (Isn't it a bit odd to be reading EIA (Energy Information Administration) data practucally the day it's released?

The major exporters of oil to the US are taking in tons of cash - they are not giving this stuff away! So: if you happen to be in the commerce of words, images, books, new ideas and/or services to the people interested in same, remember the following . . .

. . . the best time to sell a farmer a new tractor is after he has harvested a bumper crop . . .

In fact, if you've got anything to sell, to offer, to provide and it happens to be right after a bumper year for growing (we're seeing fewer and fewer of them), it is the farmer who will seek you out with the cash burning through his or her very pockets.

Rod Proudfoot (far right) congratulates Rod B. and wife Dorothy!
The Winner of (Stampede Casino's) January "Casino and a Movie" draw.
Rod and Dorothy took home a 32" LCD TV and - Sony Soundsaround system. -Worth over $2,000!-

Everybody, by the way, is dependent upon oil. If you live in Mahattan (Blogaulaire is certain) then on your own streets you are seeing more oilmen dressing their part than I am just sitting here in Montreal. Oil money at the top gathers with other money, and Manhattan is still at the top, though one wonders for how much longer.

People here in Canada with little things to sell, things no bigger than a flat screen TV or monitor, things like books, are catching on to a general migration of young and not-so-young residents and members of the active workforce who are headed 'out West to Alberta' where all the jobs are. And the rest of us are saying that this energy dependence on oil can't keep going on and on without the world sinking into its own slime ball. And the people still keep Heading West.

Alberta ex-pats have always been a counter-culture theme in Montreal. These recent transfuges are less and less Bohemian, more and more bourgeois in lifestyle. Some oil patch ex-pats even have enough money to buy books from local used bookstore owners . .

Learn the language(s) of the next frontier, not the last one. Every economic development is social change. Every exploration of a thriving, dying or recycled technology requires a new vocabulary, a different lexicon of terms.

From what we all learned about export-import of oil up top, for the 5 biggest providers of petroleum to the US market, the Official Languages in the exporting nations (the ones taking in the cash as price-per-barrel rises) break down as English (2); Spanish (2); Arabic (1). If we crudely ask whether the transfer of wealth from importing states to exporters represents a shift from one linguistic centre of gravity to another.

As a Can-Am myself, aware that "American" means English, French and Spanish already, (for me at least) the numbers look totally status quo ante . . no big shift, no surprises.

There will be upcoming demographic shifts within nations, regions, and hemispheres toward the world capitals of oil production. It may, eventually, be bust and boom.

In terms of the publishing and book trade, I think that the biggest question is not about the expansion of literacy generally. Arabic, Spanish and English as spoken and read in the Middle East and Central Asia or in Central and South America, and in Western Africa ... well everywhere people will become literate. I think we should concentrate on how functional literacy will change here at home and we should be sensitive to the competition for reader in places like Canada's western provinces.
Will a literacy boom, i.e., more active readers, happen out West? Or will the people moving West just take their satellite dishes with them or have their cable service contracts switched over from Ontario and Quebec to new homes in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia? And for those who do read on a printed page, does the book trade have anything particularly unique to offer people as this demographic shift emerges? Tentatively, all my answers are Yes, Yes and Yes.

Will it be a boom or an echo?

16 February 2007

Semiology 'Runs' to Catch Up with the Internet : On Book Power


"About Umberto Eco"

------------------ Also quotes from a 2002 article
in The Guardian,
Saturday October 12, 2002

"Signs of the times"

by Maya Jaggi

When the former hotel building in Milan where Umberto Eco lives was converted into flats, he preserved the winding corridors as a labyrinthine library, housing some 30,000 volumes. The shrine to learning seems apt for the creator of the 14th-century monastery in The Name of the Rose (1980), the medieval murder mystery that combined metaphysics, theology and the enigma of Aristotle's "lost" tome on comedy, with poisoned monks and the twists of a Sherlock Holmes whodunnit - a "book built of books".

His paternal grandfather was a bookbinder and "socialist typographer who organised strikes". During the second world war it was one of Eco's duties to go down to the cellar with a candle and pick up the charcoal: "I spent hours opening the old books and forgetting the coal." Among books he found were works by Jules Verne and Marco Polo, and included Darwin's The Origin of Species** and piles of adventure comics. His maternal grandmother, barely schooled but a "compulsive reader" who subscribed to a mobile library, stoked this eclectic passion. "She had no real cultural discrimination: she could read dime novels as well as Dostoyevsky and Balzac."

** ( - - Note by Bogaulaire: and "The Voyage of the Beagle" was what U. E. liked most about the book . . I'll bet.)


Photo of Umberto Eco by Robert Birnbaum

In 1978 . . Eco's career took a dramatic new turn. At a friend's invitation, he decided to write a detective story . . .
. . . He also decided to make it a demonstration of his own literary theories of an "open text" that would provide the reader with almost infinite possibilities for interpretation in the signs and clues the protagonist must decode in order to solve a mystery.

Set in a fourteenth-century monastery, The Name of the Rose is the story of a monk who tries to solve several murders while struggling to defend his quest for the truth against church officials. A main theme of the novel is Eco's own
love of books, and the solution to the murders ultimately lies in coded manuscripts and secret clues in the abbey's library. Dense with learned references and untranslated Latin, it is both an exhaustively detailed murder mystery and Eco's semiotic metaphor for the reader's own quest to derive meaning on many levels from the signs in a work of art. Its publishers expected to sell no more than 30,000 copies, but the novel became an international bestseller. In 1986 it was made into a film starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

. . .

In recent years Eco has become increasingly involved in debates of how electronic media and computer technologies will affect culture and society. At the International Center for Semiotic and Cognitive Science in San Marino in 1994, he organized a seminar on the future of the book that attracted hypermedia experts from around the world. His own observations on the Internet, virtual reality, and hypertext have appeared in Encyclomedia, a CD-ROM history of philosophy that he helped to develop. Recently he has become involved with the Multimedia Arcade, a complex in Bologna offering Internet access, a computer training center, and a public multimedia library.

. . .

"We are marching toward a more liberated society in which free creativity will co-exist with textual interpretation," he said, but we will need a "new form of critical competence … "a new kind of educational training, a new wisdom" to cope with the sheer quantity of information.

. . .

Writing in The Nation, he asserted that "books still represent the most economical, flexible, wash-and-wear way to transport information at very low cost." Books will remain essential not only for literature but for "any circumstance in which one needs to read carefully, not only to receive information but also to speculate and reflect about it." In his opinion, a device which allows us to invent new texts has nothing to do with our ability to interpret pre-existing texts.

. . .

Eco is an avid book collector who has apartments in Milan, Bologna, and Paris, as well as a summer home near Rimini. In addition to running the Program for Communication Sciences at the University of Bologna, he travels frequently to speak and teach. He continues to publish scholarly treatises, which number almost two dozen, and to contribute to several foreign and Italian newspapers.

. . .

See Wikipedia Article HERE.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 16 Febuary


harley t-shirt

from Justin Wintle

"Patience in a moment of anger will save you a hundred days of anguish."

. . (186) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

15 February 2007

Qin Rule



Ancient China: The Art, Culture and History of the Ancient Cathay


Much of what came to constitute China Proper was unified for the first time in 221 B.C. In that year the western frontier state of Qin, the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival states.

(Qin in Wade-Giles romanization is Ch'in, from which the English China probably derived.)

Once the king of Qin consolidated his power, he took the title Shi Huangdi ( First Emperor), a formulation previously reserved for deities and the mythological sage-emperors, and imposed Qin's centralized, non-hereditary bureaucratic system on his new empire. In subjugating the six other major states of Eastern Zhou, the Qin kings had relied heavily on Legalist scholar-advisers. Centralization, achieved by ruthless methods, was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship. To silence criticism of imperial rule, the kings banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books . Qin aggrandizement was aided by frequent military expeditions pushing forward the frontiers in the north and south.

Tang Writers; Tang Tales

In the middle of the Tang Dynasty many well-known writers and poets began story writing. Their stories incorporate a wide range of subject matter and themes, reflecting various aspects of human nature, human relations and social life. In form they are not short notes or anecdotes like the tales produced before them, but well-structured stories with interesting plots and vivid characters, often several thousand words in length. Among them are many tales whose main characters are gods, ghosts, or foxes.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 15 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"Do not dispair because there's no go-between; books can provide you with a queen more beautiful than jade."

. . (182) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

14 February 2007

Booksellers Do Not Have All Their Bases Covered


Between finding a book and selling a book, the preservation and the display of a collection of books is an integral part of the bookseller's trade. As an important part of the trade in books, apart from the title catalog or the arrangement of displays inside his or her boutique, the bookseller also narrates stories about and educates the public regarding diverse aspects of literate culture in order to keep people interested in books; books as both artifacts of a common heritage and as worthy of their purchase price.

Despite the niche markets and categories in the book trade, booksellers elect on their own to sell books - they self-select with few gatekeepers or hurdles to jump over in becoming a bookseller. Yet, having learned their business, bookshop owners and effective dealers can rightly claim that they serve as cultural guardians and, in their realm, sentries for how people imbibe in culture and traditions through written and recorded language.

Despite how vaunted some of this description may be, how rightly or wrongly it fits the trade as a whole, book dealers as a class exercise little social or economic power and enjoy less and less social status (along with the medical profession one should add).

On an entirely different plane, each level of government, in its turn, exercises a greater and growing power over the professions and commerce.

See the post below about the City of Longueuil, Québec exercising eminent domain and dumping the half million book, document and recording titles of an impecunious bookseller into a regional landfill dump.

In response to this news, IN THIS POST, j godsey at Bibliophile Bullpen remarked,

I'm starting to get the serious feeling that our society as a whole is distrustful of anyone in possession of voluminous numbers of books, regardless of whether they are just a collector or truly a professional bookseller.

I share those feelings. I am confident the author of those remarks was much angrier than the words sound after reading the post, at least I am angrier than my words!

Why am I controlling my anger? Because I think that all of us in the book trade, now in touch with one another by email and on several websites, need to pool our thinking and our resources to come up with alternative solutions to protect the used and antiquarian booksellers from the most savage tendencies that are threatening the book trade from on high and from three sides.

It's impossible to anticipate what the future solutions will be. Will the proposed solutions favor senior dealers with proven track records or favor the new entrants, who for the first time recently uploaded a ton of books to the Internet vendors' sites? Are scholars more in need of protection than house-bound retirees earning extra cash. I do not have an answer, yet.

The simplest solution to the problem of the bankrupt bookstore I can think of is to have the means to truck away the stock in documents to a safe locale before the landlord or the local mayor hauls the entire stock to the dump. Something simple like that and something direct. I am convinced that we need to face such situations as a book-trade-wide challenge.

I have read a few posts on interesting blogs about photo-documentary projects to image bookstores across the North American continent. That is fine and good. But wouldn't it be ideal to have confidence that what happened to Paul Saindon, shown (below) standing before the Saint-Nicéphore landfill site with nearly his entire bookstore amidst the rubble . . wouldn't it be ideal to have some assurance that such a fate as this will not befall any one of today's bookstores shown in the photos with their doors open?

I can just see the 12-wheel tractor-trailer rig rolling down the Interstate with the logo emblazoned on the side: 'Another Bookstore Saved by the ASBBASN (whatever that means)!

In the spirit of a personal blog, but not to sound maudlin:

As I type these words, I am listening to a privately recorded 33 1/3 vinyl of a religious women's choir from Rwanda. The phonograph record was cut in a Montreal studio for a Catholic religious order. There is a photo of the choir members and the names of the arrangers and technical notes are printed on the record's sleeve. The music is beautiful.

I rescued (have not yet catalogued) this disque from a pile of familiar commercial LPs at a junk emporium. You can fill in your own blanks regarding how precious these songs may be as personal artifacts - for someone who survived the Rwanda genocide more than a decade and a half ago.

I keep asking myself: "What records of our culture were destroyed when the Saindon collection was destroyed?")

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 14 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"If you would know the road ahead ask those who have been down it."

. . (178) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

13 February 2007

500,000 Books and CDs are Buried in a Landfill Deliberately by the City of Longueuil, Québec


La Presse

Tuesday, 13 February 2007
by Émilie Côté

500 000 livres au dépotoir

Paul Saindon, in front of the landfill site at Saint-Nicéphore where his 500,000 books and 30,000 CD disques were dumped.
Photograph Robert Mailloux,

La Presse


Blogaulaire was book picking in a 'friperie'. He began discussing 'better' places (better prices)with the only other customer, a man searching titles next to him on the next shelf over. And then the guy told him about all these books being trashed on the South Shore, near Longueuil, Québec. So I am blogging this horrible story.

Yes, it is horrible and the City of Longueuil did not have to destroy this huge stock of music, literature, history . . . and who knows what other documentary treasurers! The city had possession of the material, the city was storing the entire lot on city property and decided, through its ultimate domain (and ignorance) to trash everything!

Paul Saindon had a bookstore on Chambly Road in Old Longueuil with a floor-space of 4,600 square feet. Saindon himself (Blogaulaire never visited it) describes the local as a bookmans 'Ali Baba Cave'. As is typical, the landlord raises the rent 25% after the first 5 years of operation and the bookstore owner finds cheaper digs, but smaller; in fact so small he cannot accomodate his stock.

The collection, which runs the gamut from the mid 19th centure to today and includes all the highs and lows of North American literature as well as music - - with all the greats of Québec culture represented in multiple editions and formats - - is left to the whims of an unsympathetic landlord and a city administration uncertain of its role, uncertain of anything it seems.

The city did pressure Saindon to claim his property after putting it in storage. When Saindon could not find a buyer and was unable to come into the municipal warehouse with enough helpers to sort the books, according to the City Clerk, nonprofit cultural associations in the area were offered the books free of charge.

The whole story suddenly becomes confused and cloudy. Interviews to track down who was offered what by whom seem full of contradiction. It does appear that Saindon was making an honest effort to save the collection by contacting community centres, cultural groups, probably the municipal libraries.

Whoever did or did not refuse the collection (which was a total mass of tumbling piles by now) the final decision was taken and acted upon. Everything was dumped like so much rotting refuse into the Saint-Nicéphore landfill dump and is now utterly beyond salvation.

Everything was carted off on January 29, 2007, which is close to the date that on the north side of the St. Lawrence River, Montreal was throwing George Butcher out of his apartment for stockpiling nearly 15,000 books and documents in his home. See the article HERE.

There is nothing yet that I can offer as a conlusion or summary to these stories. These situations are both personal and collective challenges in this and probably in your own community. I blog the news; I invite discussion. I will pick up this thread again.

Consider using the Google Language Tool to read the La Presse article in English if you find wading through the French text onerous. Just copy the address url of the title of this post into the 'Translate this page on the web' box under the language page options offered by Google. Most of the translation will be useful. Just prepare yourself for half a dozen 'false friends' between English and French. A couple phrases are real gems (I tried it) and you will have at least one hoot while you cry over the tragedy of this heritage being destroyed totally by mindless boobs who are paid by the public purse.

Montreal's Expozine Zine Fair


zines for sale

Each fall, Blogaulaire keeps missing Expozine, the exposition of zines, independent small press productions, chapbooks et cetera. Ignorance is not bliss, however, when you link to photographer Denis Carl's desktop wallpapers site (see the LINKS on the right) and find his 9-image coverage of Expozine 2006 HERE. (On flickr, I use the slideshow feature for coverage like this.)

Of course you will want to browse over to the Expozine website HERE as well.

I must be in a buy-sell frame of mind. I keep thinking of how unique and interesting those zines on the exhibitors' tables must be 'in person' or 'in paper' or 'in plasma screen' or WHATEVER.

On the Expozine website homepage, be sure to scroll down and look at all the logos for sponsors of the fair. These cultural entities - some private-sector, some nonprofit - are a sampling of who and what is active in Montreal on the publishing front.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 13 Febuary


from Justin Wintle

"Good and evil, life and death, love and separation."

. . (171) Malay
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

12 February 2007

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 12 Febuary


clydesdale harness

from Justin Wintle

"It is the horse that dines in the night that puts on weight."

. . (171) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

11 February 2007

Southwest Montreal's Friendly Recycling Centre


In a post about three posts below (click on the TITLE above), Blogaulaire advocated that bookstore owners dispose of box-loads of 'overstock' that constitute nothing more than printed materials: all the magazines and books that no one will take from a bookstore or on-line dealer whether or not it is sold for a dime out of some bin left sitting on the sidewalk in front or is given away for free. (I can just see the antiquarian dealers among my thousands of daily readers shudder at the image! Ha!)

Blogaulaire wants to AVOID ANY IMPLICATION that the used bookstore dealer in a working class neighbourhood is at the very bottom of the food chain (despite what I wrote). We are NOT SAYING that once Mister or Misses bookdealer 'disposes' of a printed document at some recycling centre, that said document has been irrevocably DESTROYED.

Well I know better than that . . . because:

At the municipal recycling depots in Montreal, there are workers clustered around an entrepreneurial person who acts as gang-boss. This team almost immediately salvages the material that is dumped in the recycling bins to give it One More Chance , another opportunity to be picked over by folks who drop by driving vans or with big backpacks or saddlebags on bikes.

The recycle-cycle never ends . . . not for old televisions, not for cheap credenzas, not for nada or ninguno. All of which is an opening for CPE to upload a few images that introduce you to an area recycling centre and its environment:

Southwest Recyle BossAll year-round, even when the snow blows off the highway overhead, somebody is there to put the recycled books and household rejects under tarps for people to come pick through . . . 'come rain or come shine'.

Autoroute 15The recycling centre for the Southwest is between Côte St. Paul and St. Henri - halfway between the Champlain Bridge and the Turcot Interchange.

Ganja SteveRecent immigrants from the Caribbean Islands seem to gravitate to this recycling centre for work out-of-doors and with great demands physically and to their ingenuity at fixing stuff.

Locals can feast their eyes on an acre of appliances and electronic gadgets or jump in under the tarps and dig through the National Geographics and Readers Digest Condensed Books to hunt out the leftover treasures of publishing traditions.

The Dragon's Almanac 2007 - 11 Febuary


Arts Cafe Class

from Justin Wintle

"If you do not discuss the faults of others, no one will blame you for not discussing your own."

. . (168) Chinese
cheap_priceless_editions (at) yahoo (dot) ca

Artifacts of the opium trade _ gnarled wood of the Thai phrik khi nu chili bush


Blogaulaire just couldn't resist sticking those words in a title after reading them on-line at in an article from March, 2003. Here are those words again, in a full sentence:

"These pipes are part of the museum's collection, including one fashioned from the gnarled wood of the Thai phrik khi nu chili bush, which was said to impart a spicy flavor to the opium smoke."

Pipe Dreams in the Golden Triangle

By Steven Martin
Mar. 17, 2003

"High and Low: Visitors can check out facsimiles of Asia's infamous opium dens at the Thai museum"

In the early 1950s, newly communist China took draconian steps to rid its population of addicts, but the vice lingered for another decade in the expatriate-Chinese communities of Southeast Asia. Thailand was the last place in the world with licensed opium dens. In 1959 those licenses were revoked; the Heng Lak Hung on Bangkok's Charoeng Krung Road, said to be the world's largest opium den, with more than 5,000 users in residence, shut its doors, and thousands of opium pipes, lamps and other smoking equipment were burned in a massive bonfire at the royal cremation grounds near the Grand Palace.

In the past few years, however, aficionados of Asian art and antiquities have rediscovered the dens' often delightfully ornate accoutrements: pipes, oil lamps, pipe bowls, opium trays and beds. When curators began gathering artifacts for the Hall of Opium, some of the best pieces were found in the Thai Excise Department.

. . .

Patterns on pipe bowls ranged from geometrical designs, such as the Hindu swastika (also used in Buddhist art), to whimsical portraits of Chinese roosters, tigers, dragons and phoenixes, to floral renderings of bamboos, orchids and peach blossoms. To those versed in Chinese iconography, this is rich irony: these positive attributes so artfully symbolized -- longevity, strength, happiness and wealth -- were all certainly lacking in the lives of the average opium addict.

The Hall of Opium uses a multimedia approach to trace the history of opium from highly valued ingredient in the pharmacopoeia of the ancients to the scourge of addiction that brought China to its knees in the 19th and 20th centuries. There is a re-creation of a British East India Company clipper ship's hold and its cargo of opium from India destined for the South China coast and a reproduction of a typical 19th century opium den, where a visitor can take himself through the opium smoker's paces (sans opium, of course).

Patrons, according to this life-size diorama, entered through an innocuous-looking tea shop. The poorer users could choose doses of low-grade opium self-administered in spartan surroundings. Better-heeled junkies could smoke pipes of pure opium prepared by servants in opulently furnished rooms. Lest visitors get carried away amid their reveries, the curators have mounted cautionary tributes to entertainers who overdosed, such as River Phoenix and Zhu Jie.

On Cheap Priceless Enditions, we reviewed Nick Tosches. THE LAST OPIUM DEN. (Bloomsbury, January 8, 2002, $12.95, cloth) HERE.

That CPE post touched on the subject of opium as a typical theme of the grit lit genre.