Idea Store and bookleteer

I chose to visit the Idea Store in East London’s Chrisp Street Market and was quite surprised by how modern it looked inside – it was brightly lit with large open spaces, laptop benches, lots of seating areas, and visitors of all ages. Working areas, books, computers, ‘chill out areas’, and learning labs (rooms hired specifically for meetings and training sessions), are all clearly sign posted and well spaced out, offering an alternative ‘library feel’ all within a comfortable learning atmosphere.

Having walked around the library taking pictures, looking through leaflets and flyers, peeking into learning labs and flicking through some books in their library section, I realised that the Idea Store was definitely the ‘mega library’ of East London. Because the Idea Store has so much going on already, I left feeling slightly overwhelmed and wondered how, if at all, bookleteer would fit in to an already thriving library service. However, after some research, I realised that there were two areas that bookleteer could further help the Idea Store, and this was through advertising and user experience eBooks.

The Idea Store could advertise and promote courses, events, and services through bookleteer by creating mini information eBooks, providing a new and modern way to advertise what’s on offer. Allowing the thousands of people who use the store to create user experience eBooks to map out what they’ve learnt and what they’ll take away from using the Idea Store’s services would help both staff and visitors explore ways of improving services and document their experiences at the same time.

Download my ebook of ideas about using bookleteer in the Idea Store


Zine Highlight: Who ate all the pies?

“Who ate all the pies?” is an A5 illustrated zine by Mark Long, detailing some of the more amusing chants sang by football supporters in the UK. Though composed entirely with a red and blue palette, hes still managed to create depth with shading and contrast, and I love the multitude of faces – the seemingly simplistic lines belie some great characters. The chants themselves are hilarious, I wonder how many of the crowd are Sun headline pundits. It’s available here.

education events publishing on demand

First day at Soho Parish Primary School

When I heard I was going to be working on creative projects that combine art and publishing with year 5 and 6’s in a primary school is Soho, I was definitely excited about working with children on a project that sounded different, creative, and fun (both for the kids and adults involved!) However, hearing that I’d be working in a school in Soho, I thought I may have mis-heard – I had no idea that there were any primary schools in Soho! The school itself is small Church of England primary school tucked away on a narrow street just a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus. Going into the school I was greeted warmly by staff and noticed how colourful the corridors were – adorned with bright paintings by the children and proud reminders of previous work. Soho Parish definitely had a welcoming ‘family feel’ about it. Walking around the school and peeking into the small classrooms, it was obvious that Soho Parish had a positive learning atmosphere.

After I was introduced to some of the teachers, a class of year 5 children quietly walked into the classroom where Giles would talk to them about how bookleteer and eBooks worked, and also how this would tie into their current project, a project based on Antarctica and the effects global warming. The children were curious about who we were and what we had to say, and as Giles began to explain that we were going to help publish their school project by turning them into eBooks, some of the children shouted ‘yay!’ and everyone seemed to became even more interested. After Giles demonstrated how eBooks were made, the children were more than ready to get going and make their own.

We then began to upload the children’s work onto bookleteer, with the children standing close-by, often asking us about how bookleteer worked and what they thought about their Antarctica project. After a few near glitches with the schools computers, we began to finish uploading and naming the year 5 eBooks. Almost immediately after we waved the children goodbye, year 6’s entered the classroom with the same amount of wonder as to why me and Giles were standing at the front of the classroom. This time around, however, uploading the children’s eBooks was much faster and easier to do after having uploaded year 5’s eBooks moments before. Then came the task of printing off and making up the children’s eBooks – (a skill that Giles was clearly much faster than me at!) After proudly handing all 32 eBooks to the children’s teachers, Claudia and Matt, our work at Soho Parish was done for the day.

some of the 32 eBooks created by Years 5 & 6, Soho Parish Primary

Following our work with with the children (and lots of help from the staff!) Giles and I had lunch with the head teacher, Rachel Earnshaw, discussing possible projects and ideas for the new term ahead. After how promising my first day was at the school, I can confidently say that I am looking forward to going back to the school after the Christmas holiday and collaborating on other creative projects with the children – and also exploring bookleteer in a school setting.


City As Material: Sonic Geographies

Our final Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, Sonic Geographies, was held last Friday. A shortage of participants (probably due to the icy weather and weekday timing) meant that myself and Giles were alone in our wander though London, resulting in a slightly different walk then usual. Equipped with Audioboo, we set off to record the different sound properties of the city, in a far more leisurely and exploratory mode then previous events.

We had decided that rather than strain to produce a typical eBook with original work and concepts, which would be limited under the circumstances, we would instead purely document the day’s trip and link to audio recordings made during it. After capturing some of the ambient and wildlife sounds in Hyde Park (mingled with the hum of construction work and a talking animatronic tree), we entered the bustle of Mayfair and Soho. Surprisingly, in this sprawl the sound landscape was remarkably similar, and sometimes indistinguishable, when we were in enclosed courtyards and winding alleys, the geography creating immersive sound bubbles. Lastly, we managed to record the faint notes of a church organ, in the undercroft of the chapel at Lincoln’s Inn.

Back at the studio we created the eBook, lifting the images and GPS located maps of the recordings from Audioboo, and using a QR code to easily link to the relevant page. For the last few pages, we used images from “The Cries Of London” and “The Beggar’s Opera” playing cards sets, then a page consisting purely of a visualisation of white noise, to illustrate the change of the sound landscape in recent years – the cries of market traders promoting their wares has given way to a homogenised hubbub of engines and vehicles.

You can listen to the recordings made on Audioboo, and download the Sonic Geographies eBook on Diffusion here. Keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter.


Diffusion Archive Highlight: Bird Song By Melissa Bliss

I’ve just noticed a handful of eBooks and Storycubes in the Diffusion Archive that relate to songs and sound, particularly relevant with our last Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event – “Sonic Geographies”, being held this Friday (which you can book a place for here).

Bird Song was created to accompany a sound installation at the Chiswell Walled Garden in Dorset, for this years b-side festival in September. Each side of the Storycube portrays a silhouette of a different bird in its natural setting, with its particular call represented in onomatopoeic text. It must have been a great visual piece when paired with the sound, especially with the three dimensional form of the Storycube, as the silhouettes start to resemble the shadows of actual birds.

I’ll be looking at the other song themed items soon, and starting to pick up on other collective trends when delving through the archive.



If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I was a tad disappointed by the apparent shortage of literature and poetry zines. Thanks to the Zines page on Facebook, I’ve just found SNAP zine, an international short story and literature zine, complete with illustrations and photographs to accompany the text (and a free badge or two). Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any photos of the inside, but from the cover it looks like a joyous marriage of aesthetics and intelligent text. Might have to buy this to see for myself. It’s available here.


City As Material: Underside

Our fourth Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event was held last Friday, around the theme of “Underside”. Participating was our special guest, Alexandra Deschamps – Sonsino, alongside Giles Lane, Mandy Tang, Radhika Patel and myself. We met at Poppies Diner in Whitechapel, a cafe decked out in Americana, quotes from Hollywood films adorning the walls (though some a bit off the mark) and the most glamorous of culinary staples …. fried chicken and builders tea. This caff / diner hybrid proved a fitting start for Underside, a theme more ambiguous than our previous events.

Alexandra had suggested visiting the 4D Model Shop round the corner, to pick up some materials to work with along the walk. After acquiring  some unusual knick knacks, including miniature models of Barack Obama and the first lady, and a polystyrene egg (clearly novelty triumphs over practicality every time), we set off.

We were particularly interested in hidden flows in the city, and the alternative uses of the networks that these travel within. Alexandra speculated over what would become of BT’s phone lines in the future, once technology had outgrown their capability. Giles explained the history behind manhole and coal covers, and the abandoned infrastructures London rests upon. Our walk took us through side streets some of us had never traveled through, and the slow pace highlighted quirky features dotted around the city that are ignored in frantic daily routines.

During lunch, we fiddled around with our bounty from 4D, and after Alexandra experimented with using different props she had made against the backdrop of the Barbican, a place containing vast expanses, though also riddled with unusual nooks and crannies.

Once at the studio, we started to form the eBook, sketching the layout and deciding how the materials we had gathered during the day could work within our theme. We are in the process of creating it, so look out for the Underside eBook on Diffusion soon, and keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter. You can view all our photos from the event on the City As Material Flickr page.

Our final Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, “Sonic Geographies” is on the 10th of December. Book a place here.


Archive Highlight -Tales Of Things: Objects, Stories & Voices from the BME Communities in Greenwich

This Highlight isn’t actually in the Diffusion archive, as it was created via the bookleteer PPOD service, but I thought it’s a great example of another eBook accompanying an exhibition, similar to the one made for Cosmo China.

“Tales of Things: Objects, Stories & Voices from the BME Communities in Greenwich” was created alongside an exhibition celebrating Black History Month 2010, held at the Greenwich Heritage Centre. Cultural and personal objects were contributed from the Greenwich Black, Asian and minority Ethnic (BME) Forum, to tell stories of cultural identity and heritage.

Each page of the eBook has an image of a particular exhibit, and a QR code that is linked to a digital archive of stories and information for that object, allowing the reader to scan the codes with a phone or computer with a webcam, and access more information than is available in the eBook. This lends a sense of interaction and personal involvement with the object, as they have to physically seek out the tale behind it, not least the addition of  pages at the back of the book for the reader to add their own images, tales and QR codes.

View the tales for the exhibition online here.


The Amplified Author at Crouch End Unlibrary

Yesterday I took part in if:book‘s Amplified Author event at the Crouch End Unlibrary, giving a series of short workshops about bookleteer and print on demand alongside Anna Lewis of Completely Novel. Anna and I introduced 4 groups of people (many local writers) to the opportunities and limitations of print on demand systems (including our own) : what they could expect and how they could use it in their own projects and for their own publications.

Describing the evolution of the Diffusion eBook & StoryCubes formats, as well as the development of bookleteer over the last dozen years gave me an opportunity to reflect on what’s different again about our approach to publishing and sharing of knowledge. It also reinforced for me how bookleteer and our own PPOD service are yet again quite different to other POD platforms (such as Completely Novel, Lulu or Blurb) – offering something more than just a cheap means of producing and micro-selling books. Our public authoring and shareables concepts, which underpin both the eBooks and the StoryCubes, presents exciting opportunities for mixing the digital with the physical in ways that no other POD service can offer. During the workshops I showed the flow of creation from simple blank sheets of paper than can be folded and cut into eBooks, through to their use as notebooks that can be written or drawn in by hand and then scanned in as PDFs to make them printable by anyone, anywhere, on to the next stage of being able to -reflow the scanned pages back through bookleteer to have PPOD versions printed (my examples were the wonderful set we created for the British Museum’s Melanesia Project with Porer & Pinbin from Papua New Guinea).

The response from the participants was very positive : we’re looking forward to welcoming many more bookleteers to the growing community and excited to see what they create.


Zine Highlight: All My Bikes

I’ve just stumbled across “All My Bikes” by Chris Piascik, an illustrated zine showcasing every bike he’s ever owned. It’s a full colour, 28-page zine, and the quality of printing looks fantastic. The bikes are surrounded, and entwined with, associated words in varying fonts and colours; its not hard to see the effort and affection that has gone into creating this. There’s even several pages at the back detailing the story behind every bike.

It’s available here.