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Fat Vampire

29 Jul

Look inside Fat Vampire on the HarperTeen website.
Visit Adam Rex’s blog to read more about Fat Vampire and see book trailers.

I love this cover! I also like the marketing approach the author, Adam Rex, has taken with this book (LOTS of blogging, including an elaborate plot where he turned himself into a vampire … clever) but that is a discussion for another time and place.

I’ve actually included this cover as a tribute to the whole vampire craze in books. Because, while it’s not mimicking the black cover/red paper edges of the Twilight books (now there’s another collection I could talk about!), this cover is definitely capitalising upon and making a comment about that theme. The blood milkshake is a really striking image that says a lot about the book and about the vampire trend as a whole: you’ve got consumption, pop culture, and the whole red, white and blue thing going on. I love stuff like this that’s kind of poking its tongue out at the world and at itself.

I haven’t actually had a chance to look inside this book for real (only in the browse inside option on the HarperTeen website) because I only heard about it through blogs, but it is definitely one that I’d like to have the chance to see in real life. Heck, I’m probably going to buy it because I like the cover so much (and I have true respect for anyone who can turn himself into a vampire through the powers of blogs).

Popville

22 Jul

This book is fun! I’ve included it because I think it’s a great example of a book stretching the definitions of what a book is through its design.

There’s no words to look at, this is all about the structure. I like that the design of this book as a pop-up encourages a different kind of interaction with it: it’s not asking to be read, it’s asking to be played with.

I don’t actually really have anything else to say about this book. I’ve included it purely as an example of one of the many different forms a book can take when you play with its design.

Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

10 Jul
Visit Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand online.
Visit and compare the 1966 Encyclopedia of New Zealand online.

With the developments in technology that have happened with computers and the internet and ebooks (and yaddayadda), there are some books that it really makes no sense to keep as ‘books’ anymore. Encyclopedias are a good example: why would anyone own five tomes that are stuck on their bookshelf when you could carry all that information around with you all the time on your computer? And, indeed, as is the case with Te Ara, you don’t even need to ‘carry’ it in your computer: all you need is the internet and you can access it.

I think Te Ara is an excellent example of how the internet and computers can make books even more accesible than what they were, but being in a different format to what they traditionally are, there are a whole lot of different design issues that arise. Luckily, we had Jock Phillips from Te Ara come and speak to our class, so I don’t have to try and be smart and come up with them on my own. According to Jock, the benefits of having a publication like Te Ara as a website are:

  • you can include multimedia resources that relate to and reinforce the text. Te Ara aims to have 1 resource for every 1000 words of text.
  • nationwide links! You don’t even have to provide all the information, you can simply link to other places you know provide it. Again, these links relate to and reinforce the text.
  • searching a website is much easier: you can find specific information instantly.
  • websites are easy to update as information changes (Jock also mentioned that this allows the audience to engage with what they’re reading, I guess by making suggestions).
  • there are many audiences: the website format can appeal to and be used by anyone from an ESL learner to an international scholar.

So, do I think it works and does the design reflect these intentions? Totally. I think it’s really easy to use, it’s made obvious where to find everything. Having the ‘What’s Inside’ menu directly below the introductory image is good, because it’s the first place you scroll to look for more information. And having the images helps to indicate that these are ‘main’ sections of the site.

Overall, I really like the ‘horizontal’ feel of the site. It’s great to land on a slideshow on each new page and I think the landscape format works really well with the format of a computer screen. There’s not too much text (which I find really overwhelming when I’m first trying to find information) and the text that’s important (like links to new pages) are made really obvious and not clouded by too much surrounding text.

It’s good to compare the layout and design of Te Ara with the 1966 Encyclopedia. The 1966 Encyclopedia is still set out in very much the same way as a traditional book encyclopedia would be which works but is not anywhere near as user-friendly or as accessible on a computer as Te Ara. Te Ara is a good example of how you can take an existing text and re-adapt it and enhance it in a different format.

Listography

22 Jun
See more of Listography and Music Listography on the Buy Olympia and Chronicle Books websites, and on Michael Gillette’s blog, Pencil Squeezing.
Visit the Listography Books website to see the whole range.

I love these books! I love books that encourage you to write on them, rip them, earmark their corners, spill food on them … in other words, books that encourage you to make your interaction with them a contribution to their design.

Their covers always reflect the internal design: hand-drawn, imperfect, very cute. You can’t really tell from the photos but they’re made of good, thick paper (like a nice journal) with thick cardboard covers, and they even have ribbons to keep your place. I love the detail – gorgeous, bright endpapers to contrast with the vintagey/creamy paper look of the cover and the lists inside.