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inspiration

‘Acquired for development by…’ – A Hackney Anthology

Allow me to highlight an intriguing new book by the recently established Influx Press, who specialise in site-specific fiction. ‘Acquired for development by… A Hackney Anthology’ is a collection of short stories and poetry inspired by the London borough of Hackney, penned by twenty-five established and upcoming writers.

It caught my interest as Giles and I have written a ‘speculative fiction’ piece for City As Material 2 (part of our collection of investigations, observations and musings on the cities we visited with Professor Starling, Dodolab and co, almost ready to go to print) which is rooted in distinct locations and events and informed by real-world experiences.

Despite all that flows in and out of these places over time – and indeed Hackney – they seem to maintain a certain character which influences those that live in them or pass through, seeping into creative works regardless of the author’s intent. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy, and will be keeping a keen eye out for the next offering from Influx Press.

Read a nice little interview they did with BookMachine here.

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inspiration news

‘Walking is political’

Let me draw your attention to a brilliantly written, striking piece which was featured in the Guardian a few weeks back. ‘Walking is political‘, by Will Self, is an edited version of his inaugural lecture as professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University, lamenting our increasing detachment from innate cognitive abilities when traversing the urban environment, and championing foot travel as a democratising force amongst spaces ever more dominated by corporate control.

Cue lengthy pause for breath.

Aside from being a fascinating read, it chimes with our aims for the City As Material series – to temporarily put aside our daily travel routines and concerns, the well trodden routes and second nature responses to familiar buildings and spaces, so that we may discover hidden facets of the city and in turn create work inspired by them. Instead of being blindly directed by technology, we use it to document our shared experiences, and evoke new forms of engagement with the places we live in and roam.

Speaking of which, we’re just in the process of finishing the books from City As Material 2. Stay tuned!

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inspiration

Pop-Up eBooks: ‘Tangled Threads’

It seems that the posts tagged with ‘Pop-up’ on the bookleteer blog have been getting a lot of attention, so I’m reaching back into the Diffusion archive to satisfy you lot.

‘Tangled Threads’ was an eBook designed to act as a film storyboard, as part of Proboscis’ Sensory Threads project. Scripted by Karen Martin and Alice Angus, and illustrated by Mandy Tang, the book is a series of intricately rendered scenes and captions, but the real draw is how Mandy has incorporated pop-up inserts at the back which the reader can cut out and assemble, adding new layers of depth to the pages.

You can have a peek at the digital version below – minus pop-ups, of course – and read posts from Karen and Mandy explaining how it was made.

Download, make and read ‘Tangled Threads’ for yourself.

Categories
ideas & suggestions inspiration

DOG EAR: The Bookmark Zine

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A very clever idea, this.

DOG EAR is a magazine in the form of a concertina bookmark, with ten slim pages of writing and illustration selected from online contributions. It’s available for free from independent bookshops and libraries (cunningly hidden between the pages of books to perk up surprised readers, I like to imagine).

I love the way the content must fit the unusual dimensions of the magazine. Rather than being a restriction, it seems to inspire imaginative uses of space, containing drawings akin to comic book panels, and flash fiction. There’s also snippets of funny overheard comments and quote-worthy status updates, the latter making messages borne on the most transitory of mediums appear more like transcribed responses from interviewed authors, or the one-sentence reviews that adorn film and theatre posters, simply by harnessing the fleeting digital in print.

DOG EAR reminds me of “reverse shoplifting”, where people plant copies of their books in shops or libraries – subversive D.I.Y distribution. I fancy the idea of self-publishing writers creating their own collections with bookleteer, then quietly slipping them into the bookshelves of esteemed literary establishments. Using any means to spread the word.

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inspiration

Zineage Kicks

I haven’t featured any Zine related stuff on the bookleteer blog for a while now, so whilst we’re busy producing the eBooks for City As Material 2, I thought I’d share a blog I’ve just discovered.

Zineage Kicks is a behind the scenes look at a number of the early Zines of guest contributors, chronicling their conception and what it took to get them made via interviews and testimonies. It’s a side of small scale publishing that rarely gets heard, unlike the wealth of talk that surrounds the inspirations and working practices of mainstream writers, artists and designers, and might surprise people who perceive Zines to be generally low-consideration, offhand artefacts. The blog seems to have been started a few months ago, but already I can see it becoming a regularly visited bookmark, especially due to the parallels with our latest series of eBooks, Material Conditions.

Oh, and I left the most obvious comment to last… great name, eh?

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inspiration

‘According To The Artists’ / ‘Talking Art’

Before the New Year, we published the first series of Material Conditions, a set of eight eBooks asking professional creative practitioners to reflect on what the material conditions for their own practice are, especially now in relation to the climate of change and uncertainty brought about by the recession and public sector cuts.

Since then, I’ve come across a couple of books that draw parallels – miniature libraries of creative insights and artistic working practices – which should be of interest.

According to the Artists – 13 Questions, 51 Interviews, (the title is pretty self-explanatory).

Talking ArtInterviews with artists since 1976 , (collected interviews published by Art Monthly).

We’re starting to plan the next series of Material conditions, this time centered around collective responses rather than individual commissions. Stay tuned for more news.

Categories
inspiration

Jonathan Franzen vs The ebook

On Monday, the Guardian published an article in which the novelist Jonathan Franzen condemned ebooks, warning that they have a negative effect on literature, and may actually be damaging to society. Whilst I’m inclined to agree with his statements about the nature of physical books, that they are permanent and reassuring tangible objects – monuments to writers’ visions, inscribed with great works – it seems he is speaking with a certain style of book in mind. Grand traditional novels, or epic modern sagas (like his own) that are often weighted by matter equal to their significance. Very real chunks of wood and ink, displaying their age and history, bearing messages to loved ones inside covers and messy notes in the margins.

I own both the printed book of his most recent novel ‘Freedom’, which I’m currently absorbed in, and the ebook, which I had first but didn’t start, despite my anticipation to start reading. The steady stream of text on the flat, grey Kindle screen failed to engage. I remembered the amazing experience of reading his previous book, and how affectionately dog-eared it is now. It was several months before I came across a copy and lunged for it.

This and other seminal novels deserve a commitment, often countered by lengthy, trying reads (thankfully not in Franzen’s case), and having to lug heavy books around. The argument that e-readers are able to contain thousands of books is valid, but carefree limitless access to anything isn’t always entirely positive. I find making the effort to single out one book can heighten the enjoyment.

But books that are liable to be read once (murder mysteries, review copies etc), reference texts, or collections of short stories are perfect for e-readers. They also allow access to out of print texts and numerous edited versions, and of course don’t require masses of trees to be felled. People with sight problems or disabilities can read with greater ease.

Franzen chooses to block access to the internet and uses noise-cancelling headphones whilst he is writing. Other writers choose to work accompanied by music, or in busy places. Readers can choose to remain devout to printed books, or they can leap into the world of the digital. They can straddle both, using hybrid platforms.

Freedom of choice.

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inspiration

Poetry & short story pamphlets with bookleteer

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about bookleteer’s role in creating poetry pamphlets and short story collections, and the lack of much of either from budding bookleteers.

It’s boggling – they suit the format perfectly as portable, pocket sized A6 books, or the grander A5 size, and can be made very quickly without any design knowledge, in any word processing application. Use them as cheap and plentiful portfolios of work, or travel booklets for personal reading – anyone with a computer and printer has access to their own print on demand service. If you need to make changes, or they get damaged, make some more.

Or, use the online bookreader to share digital versions, and embed into websites. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve edited eBooks embedded in my portfolio site, but as the link remains the same, there’s no need to re-upload.

Despite the tone of this post, this is not a sale pitch. bookleteer is free, you skeptics. I just want see fellow writers embracing it and adding to our library of eBooks, Diffusion. Get busy!

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inspiration

In the Margins

This recent article from the Guardian Books blog, ponders whether or not it’s acceptable to make notes in the margins of books. Reading it, I was reminded of how annotating draft bookleteer eBooks during the editing and proofing stages of Material Conditions was an invaluable part of the process.

We were able to quickly transform the draft books into the final printed format to get a feel of what they would look like on the page, and then to cross out, change and empathise parts, scribbling notes without feeling they were too precious to make marks on. Having a hard copy of previous changes, with progressive layers all on the same page, lets you revert back if you change your mind – something I’ve also come to appreciate in my own notebooks, when early choices are all too often lost with a newly edited digital file. Working with multiple versions and backing up regularly are safeguards easily neglected, as we all know.

As an alternative, use the online bookreader to preview eBooks without messy edges or any dodgy printer issues, and to show collaborators your work instantly.

Paper or digital? Both.

Categories
inspiration

Book Sculpture Panoramas

Guy Laramee has produced these spectacular sculptures carved from old tomes, excavating covers and pages to build intricate panoramas of natural landscapes and ancient structures. A wonderful paradox of taking away to create, they look as if they have been unearthed, rather than meticulously composed. Mountain valleys and steppes, an idealised japanese garden complete with tiny raked contours, temples set in gaping caverns. Stunning scenes that blur the borders of perception, liable to make you forget their source material – images that linger in the mind, formed not by words in ink, but by hewn layers of the very matter they are printed on.