An anti-procrastination cafe, poisoned books: the latest news from the world of books

In Tokyo, an ideal cafe for writing

Need help finishing a manuscript? Meet at the Manuscript Writing Café in Tokyo’s Koenji district. Imagined by the Japanese author Takuya Kawai, the principle is simple: it will not let you leave the premises until your work objective has been achieved.

Drinks, snacks, wi-fi connection and computer equipment available, all the conditions are met to advance his work as soon as possible. When he arrives, the author fills in the card with the number of words he wants to write and the time frame he has to do it, then he gets to work. If the contract is not fulfilled at the end of the allotted time, it is impossible to pay and therefore to leave the premises…

Another particularity is that it is possible to choose how progress will be monitored: remarks in a light tone or the threatening pressure of more frequent monitoring, the staff adapts to each person’s needs. The owner said he hoped the strict rules would help people focus: “More than watching them, I’m here to support them.”

Deadly Readings

Tastes and colors… are discussed, when the latter can be toxic! This is the case of emerald green, a color cherished during the Victorian era in England, produced using a clever mixture of potassium, copper and arsenic.

This pigment used to bind the canvas of books, nowadays many books still contain arsenic which survives over time. And although we remain far from the lethal dose, the complications for the people who handle them are no less unpleasant: itching, respiratory problems or even nausea.

Thus was born the Poison Book Project, in order to locate, catalog and secure all these volumes to put out of danger booksellers, librarians and researchers, the most able to handle them. Melissa Tedone, head of the conservation laboratory at the Winterthur Museum library in Delaware, initiated the project. Michael Gladle, a consultant for the project, already suggests that “people who have access to these ancient books for research purposes should wear gloves and use a specific space to examine these books”.


Continue to make the voices of persecuted authors heard and convey their messages. This is the purpose of fundraising #FreeAllWords. At the initiative of the association of Swiss authors, A*dS, of Forfatter Forbundet (Norway) and of the Belarusian Writers’ Union, the funds will be coordinated by the EWC.

“Given the current situation in Ukraine, Belarus, but also in Russia and the persecution of media professionals who criticize Putin, it is essential to make the voices of writers who are threatened, harassed and affected by war heard – in Europe and all over the world,” explains the EWC.

To do this, he announces his project: “To publish at least one million words for peace and freedom of expression, for understanding between cultures and nations, and as a key contribution to convincing people that there is a free, democratic, peaceful and inclusive society.”

The funds will be used to remunerate authors and translators for the production and dissemination throughout Europe and the world of short texts of all types, through numerous communication channels, both digital and printed. The first texts, expected for the months of June and July, will be translated and published in 31 countries.

Minimum shipping costs for books in France?

On April 28, the French Authority for the Regulation of Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution (Arcep) issued recommendations regarding the establishment of minimum postage costs for books. A public consultation has also been opened until May 27 to ensure the relevance of this project. Governed by the law of December 30, 2021, which provides that “the delivery costs of new books must be invoiced in compliance with a minimum pricing amount”, the price offered by Arcep is 3 euros including tax per package.

The authority, however, plans to maintain a threshold to keep the shipping costs almost free: “This practice amounts to returning part of the margin made on a sale to the buyer by canceling his shipping costs. It is favorable to consumers and is likely to encourage them to order more books in order to benefit from more attractive shipping costs. Under these conditions, it seems appropriate that from a threshold of purchase of new books the minimum price for sending books is reduced to 0.01 euro including tax, the minimum amount allowed by law no. 2021-1901.

Read Puglia… or not

Dedicated to the history of Puglia and its famous people, thousands of books that are part of the Leggi la Puglia or Read Puglia project are still packed in cardboard boxes, abandoned in the storage room of the Bari Regional Council library. .

Supposed to disseminate and enhance local culture and heritage since 2018, Leggi la Puglia was to rely on publications produced under the coordination of the Library and Institutional Communication section directed by Anna Vita Perrone. That’s over 80 pounds in three years. An internal commission judging the proposals received authors or publishing houses before choosing who should carry out the printing.

Although the books have still not reached readers, their production continues to be funded. An incomprehensible situation, while Italian publishers have been asking for government intervention since November 2021 following tensions in the supply of raw materials necessary for the production of books…

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