The appearance of erudition

Everything is fake, including the supposed knowledge of the politicians and famous public intellectuals:

In a place like Washington—small, interconnected, erudite, gossipy—being well-read can create certain advantages. So, too, can seeming well-read. The “Washington bookshelf” is almost a phenomenon in itself, whether in a hotel library, at a think tank office or on the walls behind the cocktail bar at a Georgetown house.

And, as with nearly any other demand of busy people and organizations, it can be conjured up wholesale, for a fee.

Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does. As retro as a shelf of books might seem in an era of flat-panel screens, Books by the Foot has thrived through Democratic and Republican administrations, including that of the book-averse Donald Trump. And this year, the company has seen a twist: When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Books by the Foot had to adapt to a downturn in office- and hotel-decor business—and an uptick in home-office Zoom backdrops for the talking-head class.

The Wonder Book staff doesn’t pry too much into which objective a particular client is after. If an order were to come in for, say, 12 feet of books about politics, specifically with a progressive or liberal tilt—as one did in August—Wonder Book’s manager, Jessica Bowman, would simply send one of her more politics-savvy staffers to the enormous box labeled “Politically Incorrect” (the name of Books by the Foot’s politics package) to select about 120 books by authors like Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Al Franken and Bob Woodward. The books would then be “staged,” or arranged with the same care a florist might extend to a bouquet of flowers, on a library cart; double-checked by a second staffer; and then shipped off to the residence or commercial space where they would eventually be shelved and displayed (or shelved and taken down to read).

Only sometimes do Bowman and Wonder Book President Chuck Roberts know the real identity of the person whose home or project they’ve outfitted: “When we work with certain designers, I pretty much already know it’s going to be either an A-list movie or an A-list client. They always order under some code name,” Bowman says. “They’re very secretive.”

I think people have a basic understanding that there is an element of falsehood to many, if not most displayed libraries, given the reaction that more than a view Darkstream viewers have had to my videos. I’ve even been accused of using a greenscreen with a backdrop of a picture of a library. This is why it gives me great pleasure to be able to answer those who ask “have you read all those books” with “actually, I’ve published quite a few of them.”

And even more pleasure to inform the more dedicated doubters that I wrote more than a dozen of them. The Castalia-only portion of the library already fills more than three double shelves and I haven’t even received my copy of the first three Junior Classics yet.

My office library is larger than it appears on screen, as there are seven horizontal rows and six columns in an L-shape to my left and behind my gaming table. There are about 600 books and 50 boxed wargames in it (not counting comics), but my office library is only a small portion of the house library which is scattered throughout shelves in various rooms and hallways on all three floors of the house. Forget books, I don’t even know how many bookshelves we have.

But it is intriguing, and informative, to have the shallowness and lack of knowledge that we have observed on the part of the ruling class confirmed by their need to buy the appearance of erudition in addition to their worthless university degrees.

December Library update

First, in the interests of efficiently communicating with the Library and Libraria subscribers, we have sent out invitations to SocialGalactic to all of them. So if you are a subscriber and you’re not yet on SG, please accept the invite and join, as this is the best way to keep abreast of the latest Library news.

Second, we have decided to push back Aristotle’s POLITICS. Book 8 will now be the classic children’s novel HEIDI by Johanna Spyri, and will consist of both volumes in their entirety. Book 9 will be Aristotle’s RHETORIC, as per the request of several subscribers who would prefer to see it first. We will be doing POLITICS, but most likely late in 2021. Other books planned for 2021 are the first volume of A THRONE OF BONES, at least one volume of THE ARTS OF WAR, and SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON.

Third, both editions of THE DIVINE COMEDY have been stamped and will be bound early next week. You can see the Libraria edition below; that is an actual photo of the stamped goatskin ready to have the interior block cased inside. All four editions of PLUTARCH’S LIVES are being stamped today and will also be bound next week. They may or may not arrive in time for Christmas, depending upon where you live and how quickly the bindery is able to process and ship the books.

Junior Classics leather set

Since we are rapidly approaching the shipping date of the first three Junior Classics hardcovers to the backers, it is necessary to permit those who have asked permission to upgrade from the hardcover set to the leather set to do so. It is also possible for those who missed the campaign to preorder a leather set at the same price as the original backers.

If you are a backer who wishes to upgrade, please send me an email with your backer number and request the upgrade. You will be sent a discount code which you can apply against a new order for the leather set. Please be aware that an upgrade means you will not be sent the first three volumes in hardcover, and that the leather set will not ship until all 10 volumes are ready. You will, however, receive the first three digital editions in December when Volumes 1-3 ship in hardcover.

Also, if you are a hardcover backer and haven’t provided your current shipping address yet, please go to Indiegogo and use the Ask a Question option to send a message to the campaign owner containing your address.

Junior Classics Vols. 1-3

If you missed out on backing the Junior Classics campaign, you can preorder Vols. 1-3 for the next two weeks at Arkhaven and receive backer’s editions of the first three volumes when they ship in December. The non-backer editions of the first three volumes will go into distribution in January. This preorder is for the royal octavo books, there will be no preorders available for the smaller demy octavo size.

Thanks again to all the backers who have waited so patiently for these books. Each volume features original spine and cover art, curated content that combines the best of the 1918 and 1958 editions, and hundreds of carefully selected classic interior illustrations. The backers editions are noted as such on the title pages and feature a special logo on the back of each book. The image above is the cover of Volume 2: Myths & Legends.

If you are a hardcover set or backer and you have not yet updated your shipping address through the “contact the campaign” option, please do so now. Leather and digital backers do not need to update their addresses.

Junior Classics Vols. 1-3


As Volumes 1, 2, and 3 are being prepared for shipment out to the hardcover and digital backers the final week of November, it is now time to confirm your current shipping address on Indiegogo. Please go to the project page on Indiegogo and check to confirm that the shipping address you have provided is current. If you have not provided your current shipping address, this is the time to do it. 

This is a draft image of the cover for Volume 1: Fairy Tales and Fables. Each volume features original cover and spine images, illustrated in a style that is an homage to the 1958 edition. For those who are not already backers, preorders for the first three royal octavo editions will be available at Arkhaven later this week.

UPDATE: Please use the “contact information” on Indiegogo approach to provide your current address. Because no shipping address was required from the beginning, it is not possible for some backers to add one now. So, it will have to do be done manually. If you cannot change your shipping address in the Indiegogo system, then please send your current shipping address THROUGH INDIEGOGO by sending a message to the campaign owner so that your backer number will be attached to it. Do NOT send your address via email, or post it in the comments here, or post it in your Indiegogo profile, or through any other mechanism.

These are the correct steps to follow after logging into your Indiegogo account:

  1. Main Menu
  2. My Contributions
  3. Underneath ‘Perks’ select ‘View details’
  4. Look under Campaigns on the right hand tab and select ‘Contact’
  5. Fill out the message form
  6. Include Contribution ID and current shipping address.


 As middleman to the magical community at large, Adrian Hartworth never sticks around. His nomadic lifestyle keeps him a step ahead of friends, enemies, and all too often, law enforcement. Then he saves Abby Simmons and her grandfather, only to find himself unofficially adopted into their unlucky family. Years of experience tell him that the cancer killing Abby is anything but natural. His instincts say flee.

Driven by the guilt of a past filled with bad choices, Hartworth delves into Abby’s misfortunes and the town’s dark past. What he discovers lands him at the heart of a century-old battle against an evil he knows he cannot defeat. The man who never sticks around will face a choice: take a stand against a power that will crush him, or a leave a young girl to die and damn thousands in the process.

THE MIDNIGHT GROUND is a book from the Original Cyberpunk’s Rampant Loon Press that has been compared to the Harry Dresden and John Constantine stories and is free on Amazon today.

A moment of surreality

 As Darkstream viewers know, I think rather highly of the marketing book In Search of Stupidity. I’ve read the 2nd edition twice – I borrowed the paperback from Farley at his recommendation – and after discovering that an updated 3rd edition had been released, I went and picked up a copy. I’m about halfway through it, and you can probably understand I was a little startled by the following passage from the chapter on Amazon and its war with the Big Five publishers.

Another problem with Karnivorous is that it seems he has a distinct political bias. In March 2018, members of the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA) began reporting that many of their book reviews were disappearing from Amazon; in some cases, all reviews were pulled down. As always, Amazon refused to say why. Progressive and liberal authors writing on topics similar to the conservatives and libertarians did not have their reviews purged. The CFLA begin to push back publicly, and some authors such as sci-fi author Jon Del Arroz had their reviews restored. Arroz had his own theory on what had happened: 

“I believe the CLFA was targeted by an extreme alt-left troll mob running an email harassment campaign to Amazon who were enabled by a rogue Amazon employee.”

This was not paranoia on Arroz’s part. In 2017, an Amazon employee had temporarily succeeded in having a book released by conservative publisher Castalia House kicked off Kindle until their behavior was uncovered.

As readers here will recall, the SJWs in the KDP department behaved even more egregoiusly in 2019. While their customer service first told a bunch of lies, the KDP department’s actions were subsequently determined to have been based on “incorrect” information and Castalia’s account was quickly reinstated. While we did manage to get everything sorted out in only 18 hours, the incident served to confirm the importance of the strategic shift we had already begun. Now we’re moving off of Audible in favor of the Arkhaven store and it may not be long before we abandon KDP as well.

Two new books

First, fans of Kai Wai Cheah will be very pleased to learn that Castalia House has finally published the third volume in The Covenant Chronicles, The Prince of Shadows. It’s every bit as good as the first two.


When a black op goes awry, the Nemesis Project pulls deniable operator Luke Landon off the line. But while mortal authorities want him to stand down, the gods aren’t done with him yet.

Pressed into a secret war between infernal and divine powers, Landon is thrust into a new campaign. The elder gods are returning to do battle with the Unmaker—and they are choosing agents to carry out their will.

In Japan, a goddess has chosen a shrine maiden as her soldier. The shadowy Organization, the secret rulers of the world, have her in their sights. Without official sanction or backup, Landon and his allies must go rogue to save her.

Landon has always been prepared to lay down his life. But this time, he may just have to give up his immortal soul.

Second, a new author has joined forces with us, as the relentless Razörfist is publishing his first novel, an illustrated fantasy noir entitled The Long Moonlight. Preorders are now being taken for both the signed hardcover edition and the paperback at Arkhaven.


A sparkling gem made rough stone, the seat of political power in the Kingdom of Vale. Revolt foments among the patrician class and open gang war looms on the horizon. As the Argentine Tower plots revolution, a lone thief with a past as dark as Menuvia itself picks the wrong lock and opens the wrong door. Shadows still cast in the dark of night, underneath THE LONG MOONLIGHT.

Featuring a series of original illustrations. Published by Dark Legion Books.

The signed hardcover edition also includes the ebook, which will be sent out when it is released.

Razörfist has even produced a video packed full of lore introducing the book.

Mailvox: cutting out the cancer

A CEO’s son writes of an encouraging response to Corporate Cancer:

My father is CEO of a [REDACTED] firm. I gave him my copy of Corporate Cancer after I read it. He read it, immediately sent it to his head of HR and made it mandatory reading for all employees. I’m told his HR manager is close friends with the EVP of HR at [a big bank], who has also now read and is sharing your book. The truth moves silent, but nevertheless moves.

I have a copy to my boss, which was less warmly received… que cera.

I’ve been told by several businessmen that CC is the most important book they’ve ever read, which is encouraging in one sense, and extraordinarily depressing in another. Then again, it probably is more useful in a practical sense than anything Tom Peters, Peter Drucker, or Lee Iacocca ever wrote.

Catching up with Castalia Library

First, this is the mockup for the Castalia Library edition of AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C. Wright. Unlike the other Library books, the pages are silvered rather than gilded, in keeping with the style and theme of Mr. Wright’s modern science fiction classic.

Second, if and only if you’re a subscriber, please note that we’re going to do things a little differently going forward, starting today. Instead of making multiple catchup payments to acquire earlier books that you missed, now you can make a single payment for that specific book. In the case of AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, you can make a single payment of $100 if you happened to subscribe after April 30, 2020.

This change will help us keep track of exactly what you want instead of having to contact you via email or hope that you remembered to add a comment to your order. The only reasons to purchase a subscription catchup now are 1) if you happen to subscribe on the second month of any book or 2) if you run into a problem with your credit card.

The same holds true for Libraria Castalia subscribers, although there are a very limited number of books still available. You can see the various options now available to you here. We are rapidly approaching the end of the Book 4 subscription period, so if you’re interested in THE DIVINE COMEDY by Dante Alighieri, you’ll need to subscribe and make one subscription catchup payment before the end of Tuesday.

If there are still books available after the new subscribers get their shot at them, we will consider making them available for sale at the retail prices of $199 and $499.

Below is a preview of the title page. The next book in the subscription, Book 5, will be LIVES OF THE NOBLE GREEKS AND ROMANS, Vol. I by Plutarch.