Saturday, 31 October 2009

Friday, 30 October 2009


Hand from Above from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

I'm sorry to be missing today's Playful conference where amongst many other delights, if:book associate Tim Wright is talking about his Kidmapping activities. Here's a video of a lovely project by Chris O'Shea, another speaker there today. And talking of play...

Thursday, 29 October 2009


Author and new media experimenter Alison Norrington has launched the site she will use to explore ideas about digital fiction for her PhD.

And then there's this interesting article on the Art of Digital Storytelling which talks about the Institute for the Future of the Book's CommentPress amongst other things.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

the day it all changed

"Tonight, Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive Founder and Chief Librarian, introduced what he calls his “BookServer” project. BookServer is a framework of tools and activities. It is an open-architectured set of tools that allow for the discoverability, distribution, and delivery of electronic books by retailers, librarians, and aggregators, all in a way that makes for a very easy and satisfying experience for the reader, on whatever device they want."

So starts this rave review of the launch of this impressive project which Open Library's George Oates told us about on her recent trip to London. It's also featured on the US if:book blog

Monday, 26 October 2009

word torrent

I put this video of Julius Popp's wonderful bit.fall water sculpture on this blog soon after I started it. I was reminded of it last week talking about exciting possibilities for live writing events. I welcome news of other marvels of digital literary public art.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

reading round up

The Carrier, a complete original graphic novel by author Evan Young, is now available worldwide. This marks a watershed moment for the American comic book industry: The Carrier is the first graphic novel to be published exclusively on the iPhone.

"For the first time, a complete original graphic novel has been published exclusively on a mobile device in the United States," says Evan Young, creator of the story and co-founder of StopWatch Media, the company behind The Carrier. "This is not simply a single-issue comic book or a graphic novel that has already appeared in print and been repurposed for the iPhone. The Carrier is a complete, original graphic novel published first and only on the iPhone, integrating the iPhone's core technological capabilities into a creative storytelling experience," he says.

I was kindly sent a code to get a free download but sadly it won't work on my stillunupgradediTouch, which is a shame as it sounds right up my street.


I have just downloaded the iphone app. for children's books produced by Winged Chariot, which looks exciting.

Then there's some interesting work being done by what will sadly be the final crop of MA students on the Creative Writing & New Media course at De Montfort.

"Gizmo the Geek is an eco-freak. He loves all things green, even jelly beans. He is mad about reducing waste and together with his friends, Yolanda and Bertram, he goes round collecting up materials from rubbish bins which he then recycles or up-cycles or just hoards until he can find something useful to do with it.

The Gizmo the Geek project is aimed at teenagers and takes advantage of the power of social networking to spread the word about the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ habit.

Gizmo’s first major project is to publish a book of eco-tips. The unique thing about Gizmo’s take on being green is that all his tips cost nothing – absolutely nothing. Green living shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be the norm, and it is not right that choosing the green option is so often more costly than the non green alternative. Gizmo wants to spread the message that going eco can be done for free."

Take a look at the site:

Terry Gibson's site is an intriguing memoir of a movie-loving life.

"My Escape was a twelve screen multiplex, purpose built by cowboys to be a cinema with major design flaws. From the front doors you entered the foyer where there was a small island of a Box Office in the centre of the room, adrift in a sea of blue carpet."

floing on

We've just moved the FLO White Paper, written three years ago by the FLO group of leaders of Friendly Literature Organisations.
It's worth reading - see it here:

..and do put a link to it on your websites if you wish.

Meanwhile we're in the process of revamping and relaunching the ifsoflo network
for literature organisations exploring their digital possibilities, and we're on the look out for ideas to bring the community alive. Please let me know what issues you face, what we could do to help, and what keeps a network like this vital and thriving.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


The Bookseller today reports that new research by Booktrust reveals that:
"Children admitted they were distracted from reading by sedentary habits including watching TV (54%) and playing on the computer or video games (41%). In fact, 56% of all parents and carers, and almost half of all parents of four to five year olds (48%), said their child spent more time facing a screen, playing computer games and watching DVDs than reading."

So does this research assume that facing a screen doesn't involve reading - or writing?
And did they really "admit they were distracted" by Tv and games, or do they just like doing them?

I hereby admit I was distracted from sleeping last night by the book I was reading.

virtual frankfurt

Now that we're funded to run the ifsoflo network for literature organisations, I'm going to use this blog to keep track of digital developments relevant to our sector and hope others will be prepared to contribute links, information and comment.

I didn't go to the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, but tried to do it virtually, keeping track of the stream of tweets emanating from the hall, mostly about parties and deals involving zombies. The jist is: it was quieter than usual, which was good for independent publishers; everyone's talking about e-books, nobody knows quite what to say about them.

O'Reilly's Tools Of Change held in Frankfurt included presentations by Sara Lloyd of Pan Macmillan, revisiting her manifesto (which quotes if:book), Cory Doctorow railing against Digital Rights Management, Dominique Raccah of Source Books (who I was delighted to meet up with in London recently) and Timo Hannay of
Actually I'm really sorry I missed this chance to meet up with Alain Pierrot, Virginie Clayssen and other innovators I've been getting to know via digital means.

Here's a classic talk by Clay Shirky (with too much droning on about what's cool and smart, but hey)- and here are 11 Axioms of 21st Century Publishing

And thanks to Pete Law for spotting this on James Bridle's excellent blog.

I really will be speaking at the Guadalajara Book Fair in November - which I'm very much looking forward to.

Monday, 19 October 2009

blue skies

It's one of those moments when there's lots of thinking to be done, brainwaves required.
A walk by the sea is always fruitful in these circumstances.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

transliterate, multi-dimensional, cardboard

Thanks to Tim for spotting the cardboard photoshop

and Bob Stein and Dave Pescod for this classy 360 degree storytelling by HBO:

Meanwhile, following the closure of the Creative Writing & New Media MA, Sue Thomas and Kate Pullinger have set up The Transliteracy Research Group, a research-focused think-tank and creative laboratory. They define transliteracy as the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

Monday, 12 October 2009

if:book in:print

To read Naomi Alderman, Bill Thompson, Timo Hannay, Sasha Hoare, Ross Sutherland and Chris Meade, plus a Toni Le Busque cartoon in the Bookseller's digital focus section this week,

if:book have guest edited this edition, which will also be on sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair and Frankfurt Tools of Change conference held this week.


Click the middle video first, then come back to...


Please explore our website, for a full list of our associates, board members and details of our activities so far.



We want to build on the success of if:book's First Fictional Stimulus and the recent 24hr book project to create new kinds of writing on line.

We have Arts Council England funding for three years to run the ifsoflo network exploring digital possibilities for literature;

In January 2010 we launch the HOTbook package to all secondary schools, supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Trust, and intend to offer more resources and training to schools.

We are developing plans for residencies and digital publishing projects with some very important and exciting organisations.

Friday, 9 October 2009

happy day after national poetry day

My first poetry hero, Roger McGough, was one of those performing at the South Bank Centre on National Poetry Day. At the party afterwards I met up with old and new friends, remembered some excellent times back when I was Director at the Poetry Society and toasted its good health after one hundred years. The knitted poem, current Director Judith Palmer's brainwave, is a wonder to behold. Film includes me blabbing on about my new flip camera.

shot dead by a revolver concealed in the binding

Holly Gramazio of sent us this wonderful passage from Christopher Isherwood's "Lions and Shadows":

"We discussed all this at great length, but I don't think we had ever any serious intention of literally sitting down to write the book. Quite apart from mere laziness, it hardly seemed necessary: indeed, it would have spoilt all our pleasure. As long as "Mortmere" remained unwritten, its alternative possibilities were infinite; we could continue, every evening, to improvise fresh situations, different climaxes. We preferred to stick to the Hynd and Starn stories, and to make utterly fantastic plans for the edition-de-luxe: it was to be illustrated, we said, with real oil paintings, brasses, carvings in ivory or wood; fireworks would explode to emphasize important points in the narrative; a tiny gramophone sewn into the cover would accompany the descriptive passages with emotional airs; all the dialogue would be actually spoken; the different pages would smell appropriately, according to their subject-matter, of grave-clothes, manure, delicious food, burning hair, chloroform or expensive scent.
All copies would be distributed free. Our friends would find attached to the last page, a pocket containing banknotes and jewels; our enemies, on reaching the end of the book, would be shot dead by a revolver concealed in the binding."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

coffee break

Find more videos like this on 24 hr book

It's National Poetry Day and time for coffee.
HERE is the 24hr book ning with all kinds of snippets from the day.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Next if:book salon

On tuesday october 13th at 7pm we're meeting at the Betsey Trotwood, next to the Free Word centre on Farringdon Road, for our next if:book salon, an informal gathering to talk about digital literature and things.

The wonderful Kate Pullinger will be there to answer questions about if:book's first Fictional Stimulus, the month-long digital reading experience which ends next week. If you haven't already, do log on and see what's been revealed so far. We can also discuss the 24 hour book, begun last saturday and launched on monday night!

Places are free. Do email me at chris at futureofthebook dot org dot uk to let me know if you're coming... or just turn up on the night.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

twentyfour hour book

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of writing the 24hr book with a team of writers including Kate Pullinger and a number of our students from the Indigitalisatio course Toni and I ran for Spread The Word.
The Society of Young Publishers provided a team of editors to shape our fragments, dozens contributed to our google doc open allotment, Toni filmed and documented (see, promoted and printed, and Spread The Word's Ben stayed up all night.

Using Googledocs to collaborate was eye-opening and left us all excited about the possibilities for this kind of working. Making a book in 24 hours was fun, but working with a cluster of writers for as long as it took to make something we were pleased with could be extremely rewarding.

Friday, 2 October 2009

fast fictions & translatathons

Chinese Literati Crowdsource Translation Of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol

While we're working on an attempt to create a collaborative work of fiction over this weekend in London, Book 2 Book reports that "In a fascinating illustration of crowdsourcing (and piracy) in China, Yeeyan, a collaborative translation website, has posted the prologue and first two chapters of The Lost Symbol. The goal: organize Chinese netizens to produce a Chinese version before its official 2010 release by the People's Literature Publishing House." Well - they can only improve on the original.

Go to to follow our progress - and contribute yourself.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


what vookery is this

cartoon by Toni

"For more than 500 years the book has been a remarkably stable entity: a coherent string of connected words, printed on paper and bound between covers.
in the age of the iPhone, Kindle and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment..."

Read the whole of this article from the New York Times HERE