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  • Bookmarks for charity

    Wed, 01 Jun 2011 10:30

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    Over the years, The Book Depository has brought out three different sets of bookmarks to give away with orders. Some of you may even have been lucky enough to have collected the whole set at the time.

    As a way of raising money for our charity - Downsed we thought it would be nice to gather a few sets and auction them off on eBay. We had a hunt and scrabbled around down the back of the office sofa and found one complete set each of our three lots of bookmarks:

    Limited edition bookmarks. To celebrate the website launch we asked our favourite authors and illustrators to design an exclusive bookmark to be sent out to our customers to thank you for your support. Bid on the set here.

    Bookmarks Competition. We asked our customers all over the world to show us their artistic talents - and tell us a little about themselves too. They did so in their hundreds, we had fantastic entries from all over the world. In fact we received so many great entries that we failed to choose just ten, and have selected 20 winners instead. The winners were from ten countries and aged between 8 and 55. Bid on this set here.

    And finally, Useful bookmarks. Where we introduced you to a great new set of handy, quick reference bookmarks. Bid on this set here.

    Happy bidding and let's hope we raise a bit for charity.

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    On Monday 21st February I got see my favourite author of the past 5 years, Jasper Fforde, signing his latest book, One of Our Thursdays is Missing.

    This was a first for me so I didn't know what to expect.

    A queue full of avid fans supporting stacks of back issues patiently waiting in line with me at the back in the hope that Jasper didn't give up from wrist strain or time deficiency, was the image I had in my mind.

    blog image To my surprise, there was an hour or so of Jasper talking about this book and all the others, how he got into writing and any topical tangent he could think of before returning back to the main points he was trying to make, sometimes relying on the audience to prompt him back to where he was supposed to be talking about. To be honest, most of us were with him and not where we were before the tangent.

    Despite having to stand in the far corner I learnt a lot about a man I didn't really know anything about. Being a fan you would have thought I would know something about him. Sadly all I did know was that he has a fantastic car and writes great books that I love. On the other hand Jasper doesn't read much either despite being an author, which is something you expect an author to do. His excuse for not reading as much as he liked, or at all, was because he has to write all the time. 2 books a year he manages.

    Of course there was a book signing after the talk and I had taken along my copy of The Eyre Affair[1] and of course the latest book. I also got my reading visa (below) which I thought was a nice touch. I think I like that better than the signature.

    I also managed to get some of our bookmarks signed.[2] blog image

    So, what did I learn? In no particular order:

    How he doesn't plan books[3] Having tried a few times in the past to plan and getting it wrong Jasper prefers to pose silly questions to himself and tries to answer them in his books or to create books. For example, with The Eyre Affair the question was something like "What if someone plucked Jane Eyre out of fiction? How could I do that?"

    Goblins in short supply As with any Creative, writing ideas down when you have them helps you keep hold of those little gems of inspiration. Jasper likes to write on the family shopping chalk board occasionally. One day his wife came back home from shopping and announced "The supermarket had ran out of Goblins". It's nice to know ones family supports the creative genius through his madness. As a result of this, there is a bit of Goblin humour in the latest book which goes to show scribbles pay off.

    Audio book versions are so much fun Jasper likes to play with words in his books especially with the knowledge that one of his books will be converted into audio. One good example is the name of Thursday Next's nemesis, Jack Schitt. No explanation needed there. But my favourite is the one where a character repeats himself repeating himself to someone else. When spoken in the audio version it sounds like there is a mistake in the recording. Genius.

    blog image I now feel even more inspired to read all the other Jasper Fforde books that are not Thursday Next related. I was worried they wouldn't be as good but having heard the man speak I am destined to read them.[4] If you want to know more you should visit Jasper Fforde's website. His old style HTML site is all he knows. Having learnt HTML back in 2001 (the days of tables), Jasper hasn't needed to look forward since.

    Enjoy

    • [1]The first Jasper Fforde book I bought after a recommendation from a friend back in 2004 I think. Thanks Dan.
    • [2] The bookmark set that is signed across, is my set. It was something I thought of asking before going but Jasper suggested it so of course I had to oblige.
    • [3]One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the plan for a book we are never going to read because before he had chance to finish the plan it was already published. Well I think it's a good plan anyway. Shame we shall never get to read the real book.
    • [4]And of course, when I get a full collection of titles from the same publisher with the same set of covers, I shall indeed be the one in the queue supporting a stack of my own back issues.

    ps Watch this space for a giveaway. As long as the weekend doesn't go missing we'll have some questions on monday to win some stuff...

  • Information IS beautiful

    Wed, 19 Jan 2011 16:27

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    A peek behind the scenes with the Design bods.

    Drawing inspiration from some of our previous bookmark competition entrants, we have decided to have a go and create our own set of bookmarks using the theme of 'Useful information'.

    The brief Creating a set of bookmarks was quite an interesting brief to receive, but to top it off they had to be packed full of useful charts and informative content that you would use every day.

    This set of useful bookmarks includes:

    • Ruler / CM to Inches conversions
    • Fahrenheit to Celsius / Litres to Gallons
    • International shoe size charts / Clothes sizes,
    • Useful phrases in different languages
    • 2011 mini calendar
    • Periodic table
    • Keyboard shortcut keys for Apple and Windows
    • Basic Guitar and Piano chords
    • Google cheat sheets
    • Countries, capital cities, dialling codes and currencies
    • Multiplication tables
    • Useful knots
    • Nato phonetic alphabet (Oscar, bravo, lima) / Morse code alphabet
    • Cooking measurement conversions

    Information and inspiration I set about the task by first collecting all the information, looking for subjects that would be useful to me in everyday life, like the 'Nato phonetic alphabet'. I'm forever making up different code words to describe letters over the phone and in the process surely confusing whoever is on the other end of the phone. S for Spock, T for Teleport (You can tell I'm a trekkie can't you?) Cooking conversions was another useful subject to me, as I love making food! (I love eating it even more) I never knew what a 1 cup of sugar meant, after all I own cups of all shapes and sizes. The next step was looking for some creative inspiration to help me along my way. I found various influences in the form of our previous bookmarks, a neat little pack of Cards called 'Type Trumps' and a couple of cool info-graphic books. Information is Beautiful by David McCandless called and Envisioning Information by Edward R.Tufte.

    blog imageThe Design process The creative process mostly started off with sketching ideas on paper, creating mind maps then trying to re-produce and improve them using Illustrator and Photoshop. In the case of the Litres to Gallons bookmark, it was pretty simple. I started off with water drops as an idea to represent liquid weights, and placed the water drops falling from top to bottom with the idea of placing the UK, US Gallons and the litres underneath each drop. However the data seemed to be too far apart and disconnected, so it developed into the water drops expanding out from a centre creating a focal point to relate the data - then gradually growing in size from top to bottom. Designing information graphically turned out to be quite tricky, the designs had to be simple enough to understand, graphically appealing whilst not cramming too much information into the limited space available. In general the goal was to make this information beautiful yet very usable.

    Keep a look out for when we release these great new bookmarks into the wild...

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