Julie Myers: Trail Song

While I was thinking about augmented reading in preparation for yesterdays PU&P (which was fab – thanks guys!) Giles showed me the Trail Song project by Julie Myers who he commissioned as part of the Transformations series.

The Whyte Museum Archive, Banff, describes a Trail Song in this way:

“A Trail Song uses a well known song or tune but replaces the lyrics with words of its own. These words reference objects, people and places experienced on the journey” (Trail Songs Magazine (1954) – The Whyte Museum Archive, Banff, CAN).

In 2009 Julie created her own Trail Song around a journey from San Francisco, US to Banff, Canada – 1,345 miles by car, coach and ferry. The Trail Song lyrics were captured in an eBook while a set of four StoryCubes show photographs of the people and places she encountered on different stages of the journey. Julie writes:

“In the tradition of the Trail Songs of North America, we invent lyrics as we travel from place to place. Like modern day Songlines these songs tell about the geography and the people of the landscape, each song refers to a direction or path taken and is matched to the video footage we shoot en route. The original tune is something we might overhear on a street corner, in a café or on the car radio.”

I think my favourite part though is the video where you see snippets of her family’s journey as they travel north and hear them singing their Trail Song as they go. Augmented reading indeed!

You can read more about the project and download the eBook and StoryCubes at the diffusion website.


Pop-up eBook update..

I’m only at Proboscis one day a week and what with blog posts and organising the Pitch Up & Publish on Augmented Reading my own eBook-and-Story-Cube-as-object experiments have taken a bit of a back seat. This week though I found time to work on my pop-up eBook and have now completed the two eBooks that contain the pop-up bases and the pop-up figures.

All of the pop-ups I’m using are downloads from Robert Sabuda’s website. To put them into the eBook I had to cut all of the pop-up base images in half because they will span two eBook pages. These split images then had to be aligned vertically and horizontally so that they were at the correct spacing for the pop-up figures. This is the point I’ve now reached.

The cut-out butterfly figure ready to be attached to the butterfly page in the pop-up base eBook

The idea is that you will download both eBooks and cut out the pop-up figures and fold and stick them onto the right page of the pop-up base eBook. I’m also going to be putting together an eBook of instructions for you to follow. But that’s something for next week..

publishing on demand

A5 PPOD books arrive

Our first batch of A5 books have arrived from the printer :


Pop-up Progress

My pop-up pig picture inserted into an eBook

As you can see from these pictures I’ve started playing around with fitting my individual pop-up pictures into the more linear procedure of a book. I’ve used the quite unimaginative title of A Walk in the Country to provide a narrative to the pictures.

Butterfly and Tree pop-up pictures in the eBook

The photos above are of my original pop-ups pictures from here glued into a blank eBook as I experimented with size, position and story. The photographs below show my first attempts to convert this into a shareable eBook that you will be able to download and make-up for yourselves. In fact, two or maybe even three eBooks will be needed to make one pop-up eBook.

The first eBook has the bases of the pop-ups printed directly onto the pages – you can see this below. The second eBook will contain the pop-up figures. These will need to be cut-out and stuck to the pop-up bases. Instructions on how to do this will either be in the eBook with the pop-up figures, or possibly in a separate eBook  depending on how many instructions are required. Currently I’m trying to think of how to make this whole process as straightforward as possible.

Base for the Butterfly pop-up and Birdhouse pop-up printed as an eBook with cut-out butterfly and bird figures

I’m also mulling over how much narrative to add to the eBook. Leaving the pages without text would allow you to write your own story around the pop-up pictures and I like this idea very much. Another option is to colour the pop-ups and the eBook pages then scan these pages in so people can download and make-up a complete ready illustrated pop-up eBook. Or maybe I’ll offer both options..


Paste and cut

The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat is another short story by Saki, and another eBook handmade by Carmen. For this book, like these examples, Carmen printed the paper twice, first with the background image and then with the eBook PDF. However, in this case the background image is a collage of scraps of paper Carmen collected. This was then scanned in and printed over with the text. You can still see the crumpled wrinkles from where the paper has been screwed up to be thrown away.

The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat by Saki: On a background of paper bags, phone directories and receipts.

As I’m not great at drawing I think that collage could be a good way for me to give eBooks and StoryCubes a hand-made feel. I’m wondering how the choice of collage materials affects readers experience of the book.

Carmen has chosen throwaway types of papers and put them together in a haphazard manner that reminds me of rubbish you might see lying on the street. For me this is an interesting contrast to the story, especially at the beginning which describes Jocantha Bessbury’s self-satisfaction at her well-furnished home and complacent life. I wonder how the experience of the story would be altered if the collage had been more figurative illustrating aspects of her home, or made from tea shop menus or books on Hindostan which feature later in the story. 


Competition: Hand-made by bookleteer

A creative mess in the Proboscis studio…

I’ve been having a great time recently playing around with hand-made eBooks and StoryCubes and Giles and I thought we’d invite you to join in. So we’re going to run a little competition called Hand-made by bookleteer.

Send us your photographs of  hand-made eBooks and StoryCubes and we’ll write about the ones we like best on the blog. Hand-made might mean pop-up, cut-out, collage, printed, illustration, decoration, StoryCube sculpture, electronic eBooks – or something we haven’t thought of yet!

What about prizes you ask? Well, we have 20 packs of StoryCubes to give away as prizes. These packs contain 8 pre-cut blank StoryCubes and 48 blank stickers. The StoryCubes are made from cardboard and sturdier than the ones that can be made by printing on bookleteer. The stickers can be printed using a laser or inkjet printer and then stuck onto the cubes. Proboscis have used these cardboard StoryCubes for many many projects and they’re brilliant. So get making. You have until 14 July 2010..

You can either email your photos to me at karen(at)proboscis(dot)org(dot)uk  or upload them to the bookleteer flickr group.

P.S If you want to take part but don’t yet have a bookleteer account go to the website and request one by clicking on the link in the top right corner below the login box.


Prototyping Pop-up eBooks

My tests for making a pop-up eBook.

Inspired by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhardt (who I wrote about here) I’ve been working on making a pop-up eBook. I chose the loose theme of ‘A walk in the country’ and selected pop-ups from Robert Sabuda’s website to fit this concept. All of the pop-ups are labelled ‘easy’ except for the pig where I tried out an intermediate level design (woo!). And they really were easy to make. The base and the figures are provided for you to print out and then step-by-step instructions are given with photographs to guide you through the making up process. It would be difficult to go wrong!

At the moment the pop-ups exist as individual pages and my next step is to fit them into the eBook format. Because of the way that eBooks sequence the pages I will need to cut the bases in two so that they span the whole width of the eBook when it’s open.I’m planning it as two eBooks to download, one will have the bases and one the figures. Cutting the figures out of book 2 and adding to the bases in book 1 will complete the pop-up. Keep reading the bookleteer blog to find out how I get on!

publishing on demand

Alphabet Book No.1: by Clara

One of the great things about bookleteer eBooks and StoryCubes is their hybrid nature that means they can be simultaneously mass-produced and hand-made. Alphabet Book No.1 is a fantastic example of this.

Each letter was sketched in pencil then painted over by Clara Angus Lane (then aged 3). The painted letters were than scanned and put into an eBook that can be downloaded from the diffusion website here.

I love this book because it has such a hand-made quality to it (and fabulous colours and quirky letters!) yet it can be shared and enjoyed by anyone with an internet connection and a printer. And because you have to make up the eBooks by hand I feel they keep a strong sense of a handmade tangible object – even though they can be printed in their dozens!



Cover and Page 1 of the cut-out version of Dusk by Saki

Another bookleteer experiment I thought I’d show you is another  version of Dusk by Saki. This short story is set in the West End of London around Piccadilly and this time I illustrated the eBook with a cut-out of a map of this area.

bookleteer eBooks are made by folding  and cutting sheets of A4 paper and slotting these together to make the final A6 size eBook (see here for a detailed video of how this is done). One sheet of A4 paper makes 4 eBook pages. Thanks to the folding technique pages from one sheet are not included in sequence but are interspersed throughout the eBook.

For the cut-out eBook I marked up one A4 sheet with 4 A6 size boxes and put a section of the map into each leaving a reasonable sized border so that the final eBook pages wouldn’t be too flimsy. Once I had cut out the map I cut the A4 sheet vertically down the centre (you would cut the sheet differently for different designs of eBook) and inserted it amongst the A4 translucent sheets onto which I’d printed the text.

Dusk cut-out eBook deconstructed

Because the map was only printed on one side of the A4 sheet the flip side of the cut-out pages is blank. I really like the effect of seeing the text through the cut-outs and the fragile quality that the cut-outs give to the book.

(See some other bookleteer experiments here)


Paper selection

A while back we spent some time in the Proboscis studio playing around with different papers for eBooks. Not many people have seen these experiments so I thought I’d start my investigation into eBooks-as-objects by writing about them. For all of the books here I find that the combination of paper, content and illustration gives them more depth and makes them more engaging than if they were printed onto standard white A4 paper.

For the diffusion notebook we tried out a brown paper cover with translucent inside pages. Because of the way the eBooks are put together (see here if you’ve never done it yourself..) the brown paper also appears on two inside pages. For me, the brown paper gives a rough, temporary feel to the notebook and the semi-transparency of the blank internal pages hints at half-imagined sketches glimpsed through the pages.

diffusion notebook: A brown paper cover and translucent internal pages

Next up is the eBook of Dusk, a short story by Saki created by Carmen who used a combination of blue-grey and cream matt paper, slightly heavier than standard printer paper, for the cover and inside pages. The paper has been printed on twice. First, Carmen printed the blank sheets of A4 with the silhouette illustrations she’d selected, then the paper was put back through the printer for the eBook PDF. And so the text appears over the illustrations. Lovely, hey?

Dusk, by Saki: Double-printed paper lets the story appear over the illustrations

If you’re thinking of trying out this double-printing technique, my advise is to work out exactly how each eBook page is oriented and to understand the sequence in which they are laid out on the A4 sheets as this is not intuitive. And I recommend testing it out with cheap printer paper first if you’re going to be using more unusual or expensive papers.

Finally, my favourite of these early eBook experiments is A Manifesto for Black Urbanism by Paul Goodwin. This was also made by Carmen usign thin black card for the cover and translucent paper for the inside pages. Like Dusk, the translucent sheets were double printed and show black and white images of urban industrial environments behind the text.

On the cover and two internal pages the black card is printed with black ink. Because the ink is shiny and the card is matt the text is still legible though maybe not as easy to read as black text on white paper. While this wouldn’t be suitable if you’re trying to make the eBook accessible to as wide an audience as possible in the right circumstances perhaps asking a little more of the reader is a way to engage them more deeply with the content?

A Manifesto for Black Urbanism by Paul Goodwin: Black ink on black card and double-printed translucent pages