From Mundaneum to Apple Books

Acceleration of technology

From Mundaneum to Apple Books we see an dazzling evolution in technology in the world of books and publishing. With the progress of e-book readers, even the Kindle reader seems outdated as one can read the e-books on a mobile or iPad. One can wonder what the future holds. But books in print are not gone yet.


A Belgian was way ahead of his time. Few have heard of Paul Otlet, a visionary Belgian who sought to put all human knowledge on 3-by-5-inch library cards in a temple of learning that he called the Mundaneum.
Yet, as a new museum in Mons shows, Otlet’s century-old concept preconfigured the Internet.

Rescued from neglect, the Mundaneum has found a permanent home here in a converted 1930s department store and annexes for research and storage. Boxes crammed with the tons of documents and publications collected by Otlet and his followers fill about 6 kilometers of shelf space, awaiting classification. Vast iconographic resources, including hundreds of thousands of posters, postcards and glass photographs, remain largely unexplored.

“It will take us more than 100 years just to sort out and scan the newspapers into computers,” said Daniel Lefebvre, an archivist.

Read the full story here:
27 June 1998 – World of Learning and a Virtual Library

For those who cannot access the article: 980627 Mundaneum

Apple Books and PC

Previously PC users could not access the Apple Books to upload their manuscripts. That is now changed. See:
Apple Books For Authors – Now With PC Access Publishing Resources
Posted by David Gaughran – May 2020

David wrote:
Apple Books For Authors has launched and the all-new site now provides help with every stage in the publishing process. And here’s the biggest news of all: PC users can now publish direct with Apple Books. That’s right!
Before now, anyone using a PC device could not easily publish direct with Apple Books and many had to use a distributor to reach all of Apple’s customers. Now that has changed, and the new Apple Books publishing portal is accessible by web browser, and on a PC too.

Visit his website for the full story.
The Apple location:

China street libraries and used books

Changing market

Book reading in China is always changing. China street libraries and used books are newcomers.
Near Sanlitun in Beijing I discovered this “street library” where one can get books from a vending machine, called “Chaoyang District Library”, obviously with the usual QR-code approach.

The Sanlitun former “dirty bar street” now counts two new modern book libraries where people can read some books while sipping a drink. The Page One book shop in Taikooli is still in business.

Sadly our beloved The Bookworm is gone and no similar venue exists as for now. As a result the choice of foreign books is dramatically reduced.

Used books

A new trend is the growing interest in used books.
See this interesting article, only available in French:

30 janvier 2019 – “Les livres d’occasion : à échanger sans modération”
Source: La Chine au présent

or see here: 190130livres_occasion

Some highlights, see the full article for details.
There are some major platforms to exchange used books:

  • Yushu set up by Shang Xiaohu on 15 June 2017, platform for the sales of used books.
  • Set up on 17 August 2017, Xiongmaogezi platform for the sale of used books on WeChat.
  • Set up in May 2017, Duozhuayu is another platform using WeChat.
  • Set up in May 2018 in Chengdu: Manyoujing.
  • Others: idleFish (Alibaba Group) et Kongfuzi Jiushuwang.


Grandfather Sun Bingwen

New article about Sun Bingwen

On 9 December Sun Bin published the first of a series of articles (in Chinese) related to her grandfather Sun Bingwen.
Title in Chinese: 百年潮丨孙冰:爷爷孙炳文的壮怀一生

“The life of my grandfather Sun Bingwen” by Sun Bin.
See attached the PDF, for those who cannot open the link:

191209 SunBin_SunBingwen

About Sun Bin

Here a free translation of the introduction in the article

Sun Bin, formerly known as Sun Pan, is Sun Bingwen’s granddaughter. Born in Beijing in 1954. When she was a teenager, her father died and his family broke down. At the age of 13, she was detained for “anti-Jiangqing speech.” At the age of 14, she went to the “May 7 Cadre School.” At the age of 15, she went to the countryside. After leaving the country in 1981, she was married to a Belgian who works in China, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, and returned to China to settle down, engaged in public relations and consulting work for Fortune 500 foreign companies, and also established business consulting company. Her husband, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, has been a senior executive of foreign companies in China for a long time. He has won China’s highest award for foreigners, China National Friendship Award, Beijing Great Wall Friendship Award, Knight Medal from the King of Belgium, Shanghai Magnolia Award, Shanghai Red Cross Awards.

Note: the birth year mentioned is 1954 but it is officially 1955. One of those incomprehensible Chinese confusions. Don’t ask… And her official English name is SUN Bin, not Bing.

More to come

Sun Bin already co-authored a book about her grandfather Sun Bingwen:

The book about Sun Bingwen

She was however not too happy with the editing done and decided to rewrite a lot. This is just the first segment, more to come about her family.
And do know, I have no idea what she wrote.

Trafford Publishing

Going through old articles

I am in the difficult process of cleaning up mountains of old newspaper clippings and more. I discovered an advertisement for Trafford Publishing, see

Trafford Publishing

Out of curiosity I did some research.

Member of the Author Solutions mafia

I soon discovered Trafford Publishing was purchased by Author Solutions, the biggest scammer in the publishing business as I commented earlier.

The story (and flood of complaints):

See here one of the sites where victims of their scam posted their story.

The choice is getting smaller

For new authors the choice to find a reliable publishing company is getting smaller as the monster of Author Solutions is buying up more and more similar companies, expanding their tentacles to catch naive authors.
I was a victim too. Then I went for the better option, see here the story of self-publishing my second book.

Audio books


In a previous post I mentioned the share of audio books in China. The rise of audio books is a worldwide trend.

One big player is Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer with more than 425,000 titles in its online store; Amazon is the parent company and has been pushing audio books on its platform.

audio booksAudible is a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming on the Internet. Audible sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. (Wikipedia).

“Audible is the leading creator and provider of premium digital spoken audio content, offering customers a rich destination for insight and inspiration to enhance their daily lives.” (source:

Bypassing print

A growing group of well-known authors is bypassing print and releasing audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the exploding audiobook market.
Read the full story:

It’s the latest sign that audiobooks are no longer an appendage of print, but a creative medium in their own right. The rise of stand-alone audio has also made some traditional publishers nervous, as Audible strikes deals directly with writers, including best-selling authors.

Other players in audio: Hachette, Penguin Random House and Macmillan Audio.

After years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers.

For decades, the audiobook market was limited by physical constraints: Listeners had to lug around cassette tapes or CDs, and bookstores devoted fewer and fewer shelves to the format. Digital technology upended that. Cellphones now function as audiobook players.