Free eBook: Furniture and Draperies in the Era of Jane Austen: Ackermann’s Repository of Arts


Free on Amazon. The link is for Amazon U.S. Check your local site if you can’t get it. Sorry, the book is no longer free.

It’s Read an Ebook Week!


Yes, yes, we know you don’t know what to do with yourself, sitting around mourning the end of the second season of Downton Abbey and willing yourself to not read the spoilers. We have a suggestion to get you through the no-more-costume-porn blues: Read an Ebook Week!

And better yet, there’s a promotion going on with Smashwords–many of their ebooks are on sale, including There Must Be Murder and the annotated and illustrated Sense and Sensibility, both 50% off with the coupon REW50. Other Girlebooks books have promotional prices as well–Austen-related books include Nachtsturm Castle and Letters of Love and Deception by Emily C.A. Snyder–and a new illustrated edition of The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe is FREE (c’mon, you know you’ve been looking for an excuse to read it; and it will explain sooooo much about Northanger Abbey when you do), along with a lot of other great books from Girlebooks authors. And don’t forget all of Girlebooks’ great free ebooks as well!

All Girlebooks ebooks are DRM-free and available in every format. For Kindle owners, download the mobi format books; for nearly all other ebook readers, download epub; and if you like PDFs, those are available, too.

ETA: Because we were clearly not awake when we made this post.

Friday Bookblogging: Public Domain Edition


Welcome (after too long an absence) to Friday Bookblogging, in which we discuss Jane Austen’s books and books related to Jane Austen’s life and work.

The Scholarly Kitchen, the blog for the Society of Scholarly Publishing, has a blog post about reading Jane Austen’s novels (and other free public domain books) on Google Books.

Rather than pay for the Penguin or any other edited version of Austen, I decided to be a cheapskate and searched for free Google versions. And that’s when things began to go wrong. The Google editions were packed with errors. If I were not studying Google Ebooks for professional reasons, if I were not already familiar with the works of Austen, would I have gone on? Would I have thought that Austen does not know how to place quotation marks, that she made grammatical mistakes that would embarrass even a high school freshman, or that her dialogue sometimes breaks off without explanation? I began to wonder what service or disservice Google had performed, rendering one of the world’s most popular writers in a form as bizarre as the Zemblan translation of Shakespeare in Nabokov’s “Pale Fire.”

We’ve blogged about the problems with Google Books in the past–the OCR software seems to have problems with antique fonts.

At the fabulous high-tech AustenBlog World Headquarters, Opening Day is a national holiday (despite some weather this year that is, shall we say, not optimal). NPR’s Fresh Air has a piece about a new book on the history of baseball (which we will be purchasing very soon, though we don’t have time to read it) in which Catherine Morland’s love for “base ball”–and her opinion on history–are invoked in the very first paragraphs.

Reflecting on the appeal of history in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, heroine Catherine Morland comments, “I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention.” Indeed. And in no field of American endeavor is invention more rampant than in baseball, whose whole history is a lie from beginning to end, from its creation myth to its rosy models of commerce, community, and fair play. The game’s epic feats and revered figures, its pieties about racial harmony and bleacher democracy, its artful blurring of sport and business — all of it is bunk, tossed up with a wink and a nudge. Yet we love both the game and the flimflam because they are both so . . . American. Baseball has been blessed in equal measure by Lincoln and by Barnum.

We really need to make time to read this one! Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link. And check back on Sunday for a little special somethin’-somethin’ to celebrate the beginning of baseball season here on AustenBlog!

And finally, check out this gorgeous hand-embroidered cover for a new Penguin edition of Emma (and a couple of other books, too). We know a certain correspondent at the AustenBlog West Coast Bureau who will no doubt find this of interest. (Perhaps she can whip up something for another book of which we are both very fond?) Thanks to Alert Janeite Katharine for the link.

Persuasions On-line, Vol. 31, No. 1 available for your reading pleasure


We have been very remiss in posting this, but are now making up for it (we hope!). The latest issue of Persuasions On-line, JASNA’s electronic journal published yearly on her birthday and also at other times throughout the year, is available on the JASNA website. Several of the essays are from presentations given at the 2010 AGM in Portland, some of which we attended and had a good time re-reading, such as Friend of AustenBlog Allison Thompson’s presentation on the Rules of the Assembly, which was both amusing and informative.

The Rules were necessary as the Assembly did not always behave properly. For example when Charles Macklin—actor, playwright, hard-drinker, and womanizer—attended a ball at St. Albans with some friends and two well-dressed prostitutes in 1740, they were at first much admired as they were dressed “expensively,” but when one of the ladies got into a dispute as to the priority of her place in a country dance, “her language and temper soon discovered her profession, and she, with her companion, were instantly handed out of the room and the gentlemen desired to follow.” According to Macklin, “We at first thought . . . and talked of honour and satisfaction, and all that; but numbers overpowered us; and, to avoid the fate of one of our companions, who got a broad hint to leave the room [he was kicked down the stairs], the rest of us made the best of our way out of the assembly-room” (Cooke 13-14). The company’s fine attire had allowed them to enter the ball room, but the inappropriate behavior of the women caused them to be ejected from it.

We also thoroughly enjoyed Peter Graham’s paper, Henry Tilney: Portrait of the Hero as Beta Male. We know some of our Gentle Readers are saying “Bwuh?” to that, but seriously, read it. We could have written it, though of course if we had it would be a great deal less scholarly and involve more squeeing and ALL CAPS.

Henry Tilney’s resemblances to Darcy, Knightley, and Crawford, all manly men in their different ways, show that he’s no heroine with a Y chromosome, nor even a feminized hero, but rather a man who likes women, knows what women are like, and is comfortable in their company on their terms.

WHY, YES! *squeeeee* (See?)

We also thoroughly enjoyed Juliet McMaster’s piece on “Jane Austen’s Children” (meaning the children in her books, of course), even though she said of a favorite Austenian child:

Why a child? A child, human but unconscious of the zigzags of adult emotions in adult situations, can apparently mediate, simply as a physical presence, between this estranged man and woman—perhaps as a kind of emblem of the physical union of man and wife. Here though we may well hope that any child produced by Anne and Wentworth will be better behaved and less troublesome than little Walter. Poor little guy, he probably can’t help it. He was named after his grandfather Sir Walter, after all!—another small detail that shows how alert Austen remains, even with these tiny minor characters.

Another interesting piece is Linda Robinson Walker’s essay on another possible diagnosis of Jane Austen’s final illness–and one that, unlike some other recent efforts on the subject, seems to us entirely reasonable.

Just as a person who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life, so too can a person with typhus endure a recurrence. When it reappears, it is a recurrent or recrudescent typhus called Brill-Zinsser disease. . . . We can never know for sure what disease ended Austen’s life. It may be that she died of Brill-Zinsser alone or in combination with another disease. Any combination of infectious agents, together with the devastating stresses of her final years or with the lingering effects—if any—of the childhood bout of typhus, could have been fatal. But it is impossible to ignore the role that Brill-Zinsser might have played since typhus, the source of Brill-Zinsser, is the one illness for which there is evidence in her life’s story.

We were also delighted to see that the banner of the late Barry Roth, who produced an exhaustive yearly bibliography on all things written about Jane Austen, has been taken up by Deborah Barnum (who blogs at Jane Austen in Vermont). The 2009 bibliography is in this year’s issue, and bibliographies for 2007 and 2008, the years since Mr. Roth’s death, will appear next year along with the 2010 bibliography. Looks like Deb has some work ahead of her. 😉

The above is just a taste of what you will find. Persuasions On-line is a great treasure trove of reading on our favorite subject, with everything from scholarly to fun pieces. In our opinion, it is the greatest Austen resource currently online. Do check it out, and some back issues as well (not to mention the sold-out issues of the print journal, Persuasions, that have been digitized and placed online).

Monday Ebooks: Shiny Edition


nookcolor(Yes, we know it’s Tuesday. Work with us here.)

So did anyone get a new ebook reader for Christmas (or winter holiday of choice)? Do you have any questions or problems? Ask away–whatever the Editrix can’t help you with, perhaps we can crowdsource from a reader and fellow ebooker. We’re particularly interested in hearing from those who received the Nookcolor. We checked it out at B&N and it’s a pretty slick piece of kit. How do you like yours?

Just to prove that this is actually Jane Austen-related, here’s an article about how classic titles, including Herself’s novels, are becoming bestsellers once again as more and more people acquire ebook readers. The article doesn’t point out how many of those are free downloads, however. When the Editrix acquires a new ebook reader (we’re up to four now…and yes, we find that as nerdy and embarrassing as we probably should) the first thing we do is load up the “Hall of Fame” authors–all our favorites, most of them free classics.

Special issue of Persuasions On-line features papers from Chawton House conference


We have been remiss in linking a special issue of Persuasions On-line, JASNA’s digital journal, featuring papers given at last summer’s Chawton House conference, “New Directions in Austen Studies.”

It’s Read an Ebook Week!


Girlebooks Presents Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenWe haven’t been posting much about ebooks of late, though we have the best of intentions of starting to do so again. 🙂 (And JASNA members may have read our articles about ebooks in JASNA News.) But as this is Read an Ebook Week, we would like to take the opportunity to give a shout out to our favorite ebook site, Girlebooks. Laura McDonald has put together a great selection of ebooks by women authors, handcrafted (we know that sounds weird, but hands-on coding makes a difference) with beautiful covers and an eye to aesthetics that many free ebooks out there simply do not have. All of Jane Austen’s books are available for free download, and there is also a reasonably priced omnibus edition. The free public domain ebooks alone can keep you in reading material for months, but do check out the ebook store with great selections such as Nachstürm Castle by Emily C.A. Snyder (read Heather L.’s review and the Editrix’s review at Girlebooks), a rollicking and romantic sequel to Northanger Abbey. The books are available in just about every format you might want, and if there’s some obscure format you really, really need, we recommend the gorgeous and absolutely free calibre for both your ebook library and format conversion needs.

The Black Moth on pReaderAnd remember, you don’t have to buy an ebook reader to read ebooks. All the formats available at Girlebooks can be read on a PC, though some formats will require a download and installation of free software. And if you have a PDA or smartphone, you have all the equipment you need to read an ebook. eReader and Mobipocket are available for PalmOS Classic or Windows Mobile, the iPhone has a positively embarrassing selection of ebook reading apps (Stanza is the most popular), and while we prefer eInk devices (such as our EZReader Pocket Pro) for reading, we’ve been playing around with pReader for WebOS on our Palm Pre the past few weeks, and we really like it. We’ve loaded up all of Jane Austen’s novels from Girlebooks and also a copy of The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer (that’s a pReader screencap of the beautiful cover painting to the right; click for full version). If your device has Internet access, you can download books right over the air just the fancy-schmancy high-priced ebook readers. Give it a try! As we like to say, having all of Jane Austen’s books with you right on your phone or PDA all the time is the ultimate Janeite security blanket; comfort reading is a just few taps away.

If you have any questions about ebooks, feel free to ask in comments!