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    Oh for a booke and a shadie nooke,
    Eyther in doore or out;
    With the grene leaves whispering overhead
    Or the streete cryes all about.
    Where I maie reade all at my ease,
    Both of the newe and old;
    For a jollie goode booke whereon to looke,
    Is better to me than golde.

    – Old English song, quoted by Sir John Lubbock, The Pleasures of Life (1887)
This week we shall look at the words of the book,
Some shining with golden hue.
And if some be ironic or slightly sardonic,
You'll surely enjoy them too.

bibliophile – a lover of books; also,a book collector
    ... an individually owned work was protected for the creator's life plus 50 more years; corporate-owned copyrights lasted a flat 75 years. The [Bono Act] law extended both timespans by two decades, prompting a legal challenge by Eric Eldred, a bibliophile in New Hampshire who wanted to put digitized editions of old books online. When the Court ruled against Eldred, the Disney Corporation issued a collective sigh of relief. Before the Bono Act passed, Mickey Mouse was set to enter the public domain in 2004, with his best-known animated pals following shortly afterward.
    – Jesse Walker, Mickey Mouse clubbed, Reason, April 1, 2003
 
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vade mecum – [Latin, go-with-me] a ready-reference book; a manual;
(hence also something regularly carried about by a person)
Wordcrafter note: the term generally conveys superior distain for one who needs such a manual. All quotes below, except the first, illustrate this.
    … the Itinerario, which acts as vade mecum for any Java-bound navigators using this map, whom it duly advises "to reach the mouth of the Sunda Strait stay close to the mainland of Sumatra, ..."
    – Simon Winchester, Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883

    Self-Help [an 1869 book by the aptly named Samuel Smiles] is the ancestor of all self-help and motivational books and audio tapes, the indispensable vade mecums of the person who feels overwhelmed by the tide and tempo of modern life. The emotional anchor Smiles offered his readers was the example of the great who had risen above humble beginnings and conquered adversity.
    – Arthur Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World

    Veblen was about to publish The Theory of the Leisure Class. But unexpectedly, it was a sensation. ... overnight the book became the vade mecum of the intelligentsia of the day: as an eminent sociologist told Veblen, "it fluttered the dovecotes of the East."
    – Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers

    And yet these precepts were all uttered before the time of Christ, for example in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, concerning which a leading authority in this matter says, "St. Paul seems to have used the book as a vade mecum." – Bertrand Russell, Can Religion Cure our Troubles?

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quote:
the term generally conveys superior distain for one who needs such a manual.
What gives you that impression? I've never seen that, or even superior disdain. Smile

The actual Latin construction, meaning "go with me" makes it unlikely that any especial disdain would be felt by the writer for the user, as he would be writing about himself.

To my mind it simply means a handy pocket reference book, with no hint of a pejorative meaning.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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"superior disdain"? What gives you that impression?

It's certainly not in the dictionary definition, but doesn't it seem to simmer below the surface of several of the citations?
 
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quote:
doesn't it seem to simmer below the surface of several of the citations?
Not so far as I can see. There might be some disdain in the the second quote, but that seems to be more about the ideas presented in Self-Help than about vade mecums as a type of book.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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polyglot – 1. a book with the same text in different languages (esp. the Bible)
. . .2. someone who can speak multiple languages
. . .3. a confusion of languages.
adj. – speaking or writing, or written in, several languages

Two meanings are shown in this biographical sketch of Lazarusludwig Zamenhof:
    Founder of the universal language "Esperanto". He compiled many text-books, and was the author of a polyglot phrase-book. Zamenhof's reputation is due to the fact that he is the founder of Esperanto, the new universal language. The idea was suggested to him by the polyglot character of his native town; four different languages were spoken there, and to this fact he attributed the constant dissensions and misunderstandings which disturbed the city.
    – Jewish Encyclopedia (1905) (excerpted)
 
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escritoire – a writing table; a desk, particularly, a desk with a top section for books
    It's a grand old line, major, a sublime old line; I wanted my Peerage; I'll fetch it myself, presently, and show you a thing or two that will give you a realizing idea of what our house is. I've been glancing through Burke*, and I find that of William the Conqueror's sixty-four natural ah-- my dear, would you mind getting me that book? It's on the escritoire in our boudoir.
    – Mark Twain, The American Claimant, ch.V

    Between the windows, a fragile escritoire had been topped by her, earlier in this week. with a bowl of roses -today, the petals began to fall. Some books of her own were wedged among those not hers in the shelves in the arched recesses.
    – Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day
*Note: perhaps our British readers could give us a better understanding of Burke's Peerage?
 
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marginalia – notes made in the margins of a book
    Harry brought his Paris guidebooks, replete with his underlinings and marginalia, to Rooie's room on the Bergstraat.
    – John Irving, A Widow for One Year
 
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frontlist – [usage ambiguous] publisher's list of new or current titles, or of those being pushed as potential blockbusters
midlist – a publisher's new or current books expected to have less popular appeal than the frontlist
backlist – publisher's list of older titles kept in print

- backlist books give the publisher modest but steady income at little cost;
- frontlist books, though costly, offer the hope of high profits;
- midlist books are getting squeezed out.
    The battle for rack space has become so intense that the "frontlist" (new and forthcoming titles) overpowers the backlist. A generation ago 60 percent of sales was backlist; now that has dwindled to about 25 percent. While the frontlist is aggressively promoted and the backlist is kept at a minimum, the midlist disappears.
    – James B. Twitchell, Carnival Culture (1991)

    At Warner, which is a major frontlist house, unless the book can break out in a major way for us, it probably isn't right for us. That usually means most general midlist nonfiction won't work for us.
    – Rick Wolf, Exec. Editor of Warner Books, quoted in Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents by Jeff Herman

    St. Martin's was so impressed by his [J. H. Hatfield's] work in just eight months that it moved the book up from a midlist paperback to a frontlist hardcover.
    – Bobby Tanzilo, On Milwaukee magazine, Sept. 2, 2003
 
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