Over the weekend I switched The Map Room over to a new site template. This is the first redesign of this site since I restarted it in January 2016. The old design was a stock template that over the years got modified and customized; I have yet to apply those modifications and customizations to the new design—right now it’s pretty much the stock Toujours template—so there are still a few things for me to do here and there. If things are wonky for a bit, that’s why.
The Map Books of 2020 page has been updated with new book listings, the latest cover art and updated publishing schedules (which have been just as much in flux as they’ve been in previous years, if not more so). It is as up to date and as complete as I can make it, but it’s a smaller list than usual. If I’ve missed something or something on this list is in error, please tell me.
Most of The Map Room’s revenue comes from affiliate links (i.e., I get a cut when you buy something via a link on this website). That generally means the Usual Guys. But the Usual Guys aren’t for everyone, so I’ve signed up with Bookshop’s affiliate program. Bookshop is an online store that offers some support to independent bookstores: see InsideHook’s piece for details. It’s U.S.-only for now, and the selection is basically limited to what can be ordered through Ingram, but for something just getting off the ground it looks like a viable alternative. The Map Room’s Bookshop storefront is here, but direct links to book listings will appear where appropriate.
The Map Books of 2020 page is now live. It lists all the books scheduled to come out this year—at least the ones I’m aware of. I’ll do my best to keep this page as up to date as possible. If there’s a book coming out in 2020 that should be on this page, let me know: I’m keen to find out about any and all books on cartography, maps and related subjects that are in the works.
Updates to Google’s ad system did a number on the layout of this website, spraying ads everywhere, so I’ve disabled ads until I can get that sorted out.
They’ll probably have to come back at some point, because while I like the site without ads, it does cost me money to host this site, and time to work on it. If you like what I do here, this wouldn’t be a bad time to send a few dollars1 toward The Map Room’s hosting bills, or to me directly via Ko-Fi. (Both methods use PayPal; minimum of $10 and $3 respectively.)
As always, your support is not necessary, but it’s greatly appreciated, and I do not take it for granted.
I’ve given the Map Books of 2019 page another update. At the moment it lists 31 books that have come out or are scheduled to come out this year. This list is always changing as publication schedules are adjusted and I learn about new books. As always, if there’s a book that should be on this list, let me know.
So far there are not many books listed, but that will change as the year progresses. Also keep in mind that publication dates shift all the time: keeping on top of those changes can be a sisyphean task, but I’ll do my best.
So, two things. The Map Room has its TLS/SSL certificate and is now running on a secure server; existing links should redirect to their
https:// equivalents. And, because spam via those forms has become a problem, I’ve added a reCAPTCHA requirement to the contact and link submission pages. Hopefully neither change will break anything for anyone, but let me know if it does for you.
Number of blog entries posted: 386 (including this one).
Five most popular posts published in 2017: (1) The Medieval Fantasy City Generator (27 Jul); (2) World Life Expectancy (28 Dec); (3) ‘They Just Wanted to Fix Some Things About the State Borders’ (13 Oct); (4) Mapping the August 2017 Solar Eclipse (21 Jul); (5) The Territory Is Not the Map (27 Sep).
Least popular post published in 2017: Deadline Extended for Corlis Benefideo Award Nominations (4 Apr).
Books reviewed: 5.
Books received in 2017 that are still in my to-review queue: 1.
Top five countries by page views: (1) United States; (2) United Kingdom; (3) Canada; (4) Netherlands; (5) Germany.
Countries generating a single page view in all of 2017: Afghanistan, Åland Islands, Angola, Bhutan, Côte d’Ivoire, Faroe Islands, French Polynesia, Grenada, Guyana, Liberia, Sint Maarten, Somalia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vatican City.
A reader just brought to my attention an issue that will probably be familiar to the four hundred or so of you who subscribe to The Map Room’s daily email digest: embedded videos (such as YouTube) included in blog posts don’t work in email clients, and in fact can bork the formatting of the email. A little digging on my part revealed that this is a longstanding issue: email clients don’t generally display scripted or embedded elements. Not sure whether this is something I can fix from this end, but in the meantime I’ll try and hold off on the embedded video.
On Friday I finally upgraded The Map Room’s hosting plan, moving from shared hosting to a virtual private server.
There was a small hiccup: initially the VPS was housed at my web host’s Oregon data centre while the MySQL server was in Virginia: this led to pages hanging for about seven seconds before loading unless you loaded a cached version. But that got sorted out late Friday night (or early Saturday morning, depending), and now everything is snappy and fast and not at all likely to throw server errors. There’s tons of CPU, memory and disk space to spare on my VPS; The Map Room had been just slightly too much for shared hosting, but now it will have lots of room to grow before I have to upgrade again. Honestly, I should have done this years ago.
Reader contributions to my hosting bills are a big reason why this upgrade was able to happen. Thanks to all who sent money in that direction. Your support is very, very much appreciated.
Just to let you know: I’ve finally finished importing the map-related blog entries I made on my personal blog during The Map Room’s 2011-2015 hiatus. It was a slow process, but now it’s a finished one, and now these older posts will remain available. (The best way to browse old blog entries is to start at the archives page.)
If you like what I do here and you have a couple of extra dollars, pounds, euros or kroner lying around, this would be an awfully good time to send them The Map Room’s way: sent directly to me via Ko-Fi or, if you don’t trust me to handle money, directly to my web hosting bill.
That bill, by the way, is about to go up. This blog has been on the edge of need-to-upgrade/don’t-need-to-upgrade since I restarted it nearly two years ago, but it looks like I’ve done all the optimizations I can under shared hosting. It’s time to get a VPS. Which will cost a little more.
Given the dreadful state of online advertising (my ad income is one-twentieth what it was a decade ago), blogs like The Map Room will increasingly have to rely on reader support. I’m not very comfortable with periodic pledge breaks like these, so I’m exploring the idea of setting up a membership system, which if I go for it would launch some time in early 2018. The trick with me using systems like Memberful or Patreon is that a blog like The Map Room isn’t really geared toward members-only content: I’m a link aggregator, not a content producer. But if I can make this project a bit more financially viable, I can spend time on it rather than other work.
Your support, as always, is not required, but it is deeply appreciated.
I’ve finally updated the Map Books of 2017 page to account for all the books that were brought to my attention over the past few months.
Later this month it’ll be time for me to post the 2017 edition of The Map Room’s Holiday Gift Guide. Each year I put out a list of some of the noteworthy books about maps that have been published over the previous year. This year’s guide will be a rather smaller selection of the above list, focused on gift-giving (academic monographs and GIS manuals make less-than-ideal gifts, I’m thinking); the Map Books of 2017 page is meant to be more comprehensive.