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  • World Down Syndrome Day

    Wed, 21 Mar 2012 15:16

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    Worldwide it is estimated that 5.8m people have Down syndrome, the condition which gives people an extra chromosome 21 (so there are three rather than two). Today is World Down Syndrome Day (21/3) which sees many events around the world and a UN conference. The Book Depository has been proud to support (we've had book auctions, sponsored bookmarks and other fun stuff) Down Syndrome Education International - a charity which works in many countries helping children with Down syndrome with reading skills.

    You can find out more about Down Syndrome here.

  • Of Lice and Men

    Fri, 16 Sep 2011 15:02

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    My parents live in a very idyllic thatched cottage in Dorset on England's south coast. Recently, and at great expense and bother the thatch needed to be replaced, and a very professional job was done by the local thatchers.

    Only some days later did things start crawling from the roof. Actually just one type of thing - just thousands and thousands of them. Distressed by not being able to see much through the windows due to the bodies of crawling mites and concerned by the thought that they were devouring the new thatch, my father wrote to (as you would) the Science Advisor to the National Society of Master Thatchers. Some correspondence ensued and with some examples of dead mites sent through the post, the culprits were identified as booklice (Liposcelis bostrychophila). The science advisor reassured that they were not eating the thatch, indeed it was somewhat of a mystery as to how they got in the reed at all.

    He also supplied some fantastic pictures of the sample sent through - which I thought, given the name of the beast, might be of interest!

    (With many thanks to Dr Roger Angold)

  • Starting school

    Tue, 23 Aug 2011 15:49

    I was always petrified when starting back at school, what would my classmates be like, would the teacher be human, could I find somewhere safe and/or dry to eat my squashed Marmite sandwiches at lunchtime? If only I'd had access to a selection of reassuring books on this new experience then I'm sure I'd have settled in much more quickly... I've selected a few of the best starting school titles, if you know some I've missed feel free to comment!

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  • On Poetry (and dead time)

    Wed, 02 Feb 2011 10:05

    blog imageWhen Jo Shapcott's poetry book 'Of Mutability' won this year's Costa Book of the Year there was nearly universal agreement with the choice. There was some anxiety in the book trade that a poetry title winning the award would not deliver as many sales as a book from another genre (we've sold out at the time I'm writing this so could well have been an unnecessary concern).

    Poetry, I think, could be an almost perfect literary form our 'snackable' culture, yet it's still an art form that many people find it hard to access. Unlike a novel people are unlikely to pick up a collection of poems and read it from beginning to end, indeed that isn't what they're designed for. Also there is a misconception (I think) that they're too highbrow and inaccessible.

    I've been especially enjoying two titles recently, Paul Muldoon's 'Maggot' and ' Simon Armitage's 'Seeing Stars'. My trick for picking them up and reading a poem at a time? Leaving them by my laptop to read whilst Windows boots up. Of course if you have a machine that's faster than mine you might need to try some Emily Dickinson. Why not try to slip in some poetry in some of your dead time?

  • Books of the year 2010

    Wed, 05 Jan 2011 16:44

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    I thought it would be interesting to look at the top 1,000 bestsellers for the Book Depository, in 2010, by jacket colour (rather than something arbitrary like our favourites etc). We took a copy of every jacket for each title and to sample the colour reduced it to one pixel. We then sorted these by colour running dark to light.

    On one level there is the cliche of a customer walking into a store and looking for that 'yellow covered book' they can't recall the title of and on the other a serious(ish) insight into jacket colours used. I was interested to see the fairly heavy use of dark colours - a reflection of the zombie/vampire bias? Other things that jump out? The most distinctive run of covers are the lime green Penguin Popular Classics, and a fair few faces looking back at us readers...what do you see?

    Have a look at the full selection.

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