Saturday, 30 April 2011

le busque illuminates blaug

A new version of Ricardo's intro to the theme of How Power Corrupts, enhanced by visuals from the wonderful Toni Le Busque. Book now for our events from 10th - 13th May at the Free Word and go to to get involved.

Monday, 25 April 2011

ricardo blaug

Here is a short film of Dr Ricardo Blaug discussing why he wrote the book we're curating at the Free Word Centre from the 10th-13th May. Tickets can now be booked from and go to for more information on the event and to comment on the issues it's exploring.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Thanks to Caleb Klaces for passing this onto me re. Unlibrary etc.

"I created and am heading a new project: Fleeting Pages.  I'm writing
to see if you have any interest in being a part of the project-
submitting work, running a  workshop, hosting an event/reading of some

In essence, Fleeting Pages consists of taking over one of the spaces
left empty by a failed big box bookstore in Pittsburgh, for one month
starting April 30th, and filling it with independent & self-published
work of all kinds, book arts, workshops, events, and....? All
revolving around various forms of written self-expression.

The idea is a result of a few things; the toll taken on local
booksellers by big box bookstores, a concern for the cultural effects
of big box stores in both their existence and their failure, a general
frustration with the model of the publishing industry, and a great
appreciation for independent and self-published works of all kinds, as
well as for those who create them.

So far, we have work coming in from all over the US as well as from
the UK and Australia. Support for the project has been coming in from
all over as well- 2,000 unique visitors on our website in less than 2
weeks from 47 states and 30 other countries. And national media

You can find more information on the website:

Feel free to ask any questions you may have. And please share the
information with any others you know who may have interest- presses,
writers, artists, friends...

Thank you,


Fleeting Pages
A pop-up book emporium of reading, making, and window licking
Opening April 30, 2011

Friday, 15 April 2011

no furniture so charming

Thu 21 Apr

No Furniture So Charming

Philip Jones, Nora Daly, Chris Meade, Charles Holland, Jon Stone & Kirsty Irving, Peter Law, Dan Thompson, Trenton Oldfield, Tom Armitage, Nicky Kirk, Rachel Coldicutt, Ruth Beale, Stef Lewandowski & more
hosted by Travis Elborough
Bethnal Green Library | 7pm | £5 adv/£7 door
A night devoted to the architecture of knowledge and the future of book-borrowing. Much more than just bricks and mortar, the public lending library has long been considered the cornerstone of an educated and literate population, but what lies ahead for the future?
Borrowing its title from Sidney Smith’s description of books, No Furniture So Charming gathers artists, writers, creatives, technologists and architects to present their vision for the library of the future. Be it a personal utopia, a visionary work of science fiction, a digital or practical re-imagining of user centred design or a call to action.
A crack panel of hardback, paperback and e-book judges will discuss and debate the merits of each idea as they pay homage to a revered space in times of change.
  • Nora Daly (British Library)
  • Charles Holland (FAT Architecture)
  • Chris Meade (if:book)
  • Phillip Jones (The Bookseller & co-founder of FutureBook)
  • Tom Armitage (Game designer and Technologist)
  • Kirsten Campbell (Writer and Educational games designer)
  • Rachel Coldicutt (Creative Producer)
  • Ruth Beale (Artist & Pamphlet Librarian)
  • Nicky Kirk (Architect, Amenity Space)
  • Peter Law (Reader of books and Digital producer)
  • Stef Lewandowski (Co-founder of Aframe, Clore Fellow)
  • Trenton Oldfield (Coordinator, This Is Not A Gateway)
  • Jon Stone & Kirsty Irving (Sidekick Books/Fuselit)
  • Dan Thompson (Empty Shops Network)
Hosted by Travis Elborough
Travis Elborough is the author of The Bus We Loved: London’s Affair With the Routemaster, The Long-Player Goodbye: The Album From vinyl To iPodAnd Back Again and Wish You Were Here – England on Sea. He reviews for The Guardian, and has contributed to New StatesmanThe Sunday TimesZembla and The Oldie.
Co-curated by Katy Beale

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lord Owen to appear at HOW POWER CORRUPTS curation, may 10th - 13th, the free word centre

10th to the 13th of May
if:book and The Roundhouse Journal present


The Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London

A week long curation of a book by Dr Ricardo Blaug
Supported by Palgrave Macmillan.

if:book and will use Dr. Blaug’s timely work to spark discussion across formats: online, onscreen, on the wall and in person. Join our occupation of the Free Word Centre - join the debate!

This event presents an inside-out examination of both the idea of corruption by power and Ricardo Blaug’s book itself. As we draw out the book’s ideas from their medium through discussions, theatre, art and writing, Dr. Blaug’s participation throughout the week also represents a unique opportunity to question an author as they elucidate their arguments.

Throughout the week if:book’s Portable Bookshop will be selling a range of titles including a pamphlet by Dr. Blaug written for the event. Visual explorations of power and corruption will be spread across the walls, while films will be projected in the hall.

If you are interested in any part of this event visit

twitter: @roundhousejrnl @ifbook

All events are free, except where indicated. However, places are limited, so please book ahead.

Tuesday 10thMAY,


6.30pm: Lord David Owen and Dr Ricardo Blaug on political power and the corruption of citizenry.

Having served as Foreign Secretary, founded the SDP, and negotiated for peace in the former Yugoslavia, Lord Owen is a major political figure. Once a practicing neurologist, in 2008 he published In Sickness and In Power, which coined the term ‘hubris syndrome’. A revised and updated paperback edition is due out shortly.

Dr Ricardo Blaug, author of How Power Corrupts, is Reader in Democracy and Political Theory at the University of Westminster. Dr. Blaug has also worked as a psychiatric social worker and a public manager.

Tickets £5.00 / £3.00 concs

Wednesday 11th

11.30 am :  Drama Workshop
The Free Word hosts a drama workshop using physical techniques to explore corruption, power dynamics and censorship led by TripWires  - places limited

3.00 pm : Panel discussion
featuring Professor David Graeber (Goldsmiths), Tim Hardy (Sukey), Dr Ricardo Blaug (Westminster)
Existing internet fora suffer hierarchy and corruption by power: who can be most scathing, who can post most frequently, who has had their blog referenced by mainstream media. The panel will consider: How can we challenge online power dynamics? What structures online forums and how can they be made accessible? How can deliberative and consensual ways of organsing practised online spread to institutions?

Thursday 12th
11am – 5pm : Come to the Free Word and share stories, anecdotes and reflections, listen to poets, view art work and add to the ongoing conversation.

2.30pm : Film showing
a film by Michael Chanan, video blogger for the New Statemen and documentary film maker, about the movement against government spending cuts
in the universities and beyond
with students, activists and citizens of the real big society

Most agree with Lord Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It seems to apply to history’s cruel dictators, perhaps also to the behaviour of contemporary political and economic elites and even across the hierarchic organisations of our everyday lives. Yet few have looked closely at the mechanisms through which power corrupts, and how those afflicted remain unaware of their condition. A provocative exploration of the usually hidden, and little understood, psychological politics of organisations.

Friday 13th
Two roundtable events for literature organizations and all those interested in the future of the word –  free but places are limited
An invited audience will discuss where academic publishing is today and to what extent it is in crisis.  We will ask: What is the impact of the publishing process on the academic author?  To what extent do publishing platforms dictate research priorities? What role should publishing play in unlocking academic knowledge? Is internet-enabled accessibility something to be celebrated or guarded against?

This event will bring together community activists and literature organisations. Does the Big Society mean stripping away bureaucratic impediments to communities’ creativity and self-determination, or leaving the disadvantaged to sink or swim? How does it relate to libertarian community politics – and what opportunities do social media provide to disrupt power relations and create radical new forms of community publishing, that span the distance between the local and the global?



the look and feel of real bookselling

The London Bookfair has been fun, a great opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues I've met here and around the world since setting up if:book and in my previous work at Booktrust. But trade musings on business models concerning apps and downloads seem to have less and less to do with the bigger discussion about how our literary culture can evolve through new technology.  

On my way home from the fair it was wonderful to call in on the pub in Crouch End where Robin, bookseller at if:book's new Portable Bookshop, was talking books with drinkers around the excellent selection of stock provided through the Big Green Bookshop. 18th century anachronist Robin is proving to be an able bookseller, bringing coffee shops alive for the 21st century, and though sales are not at commercially viable levels yet, it feels like we're onto something. Here again is our first press coverage and latest post from 

The Portable Bookshop is up and running, trialling a list of venues to pop up in around Crouch End.

The Hornsey Library Cafe, The Devonshire Arms, Railway Tavern and Kiss The Sky have all housed us so far. To keep in touch with where you can find us, follow @portablebooks on Twitter.

Tomorrow, Thursday 14th April we'll be at Coffee Circus from 9-5pm and the Bookshop will be in residence at the DEVONSHIRE HOUSE pub in the heart of Crouch End every  WEDNESDAY FROM 2.00 - 9.00pm

Please come along to buy books and talk about what you're reading. 
We stock a small but carefully selected range of titles including bestsellers, local interest and local authors, children's books, cult fiction, art and design and much more.
We can order books for you and also do our best to find the best next book for you. Tell Robin and I what you most like to read - see if we can seek out something that will grab you.
And when you've browsed our collection, please stay awhile and talk to us and other customers about books - and life. 
Tell us about the writing you love and discuss the future of the book with us. 
Anyone interested in promoting the bookshop, housing a pop up session in their shop, cafe, bar or any private functions where booklovers gather, in Crouch End and around London, or setting up a bookgroup to meet during Portable Bookshop pop ups, please contact @ifbook chris at futureofthebook dot org dot uk
Signings and drop-ins by local authors,
The if:book, Portable Bookshop Guide To Digital Reading,
Book of the Week - one title we will highlight, sell copies of and also sell titles we recommend to fans of the book. 
And keep telling us what books YOU'D like to see for sale in the Portable Bookshop
- Robin and Chris, @raliel and @ifbook, @portablebooks

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Thanks Alain Pierrot of if:lire for finding this typographic gem

Monday, 11 April 2011

origins and passions closely referred

I just came across this article about TOC Bologna.

Here's the google 'translation' of the bit about us.

"A call that has to deal with the knowledge that the online community they belong to those who live every day and it is therefore necessary to enter on tiptoe, with great respect, always trying to bring value. Two examples to follow in this regard? The experiences of Chris Meade of if: book and community collaborative writing of Jacob Lewis, Figment , because only with close reference to his origins and his passion for content publishing and sharing them can deal with the digital ecosystem and look ahead."

Sunday, 10 April 2011


A book you can sleep in - see more HERE

And that reminds me of this old favourite

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

tools funds tomes and libroids

So I've now spoken at a Tools of Change conference and where better to do it than in Bologna on the eve of the Children's Book Fair that I was never allowed to get to when I was Director of Booktrust!
I was in conversation with Jacob Lewis, CEO of and I filmed him afterwards for the Young Poets Network site.

I returned to find that if:book's somewhat last minute application to the Arts Council for what's called portfolio funding had been rejected, though their evaluation of our work was highly positive.

Section one of their appraisal concludes:

"Based on the successful delivery of their previous projects, and their unique combination of expertise in relevant fields, combined with strong and experienced leadership, if:book is well placed to deliver the proposed programme and help the literature sector adapt to the challenges of the digital age."

So it was a bit of blow that the next para says:

"The application was assessed as making a strong contribution to our goals and priorities.
However, we cannot fund all the strong applications because the budget is limited."

Hmmf. But I am reassured that our work is valued at ACE and hopeful that we will be able to pitch to other funding streams in the future.

The Portable Bookshop is setting up in the Devonshire Arms as we speak, selling books to Crouch Enders, thanks to who have been fighting their way out of financial troubles with determination and some success. Meanwhile we're working on if:book's guide to digital reading, available soon in booklet and pdf form.

When I spoke in Freiburg last year I saw THE LIBROID in action and met its creator Jurgen Neffe. It's  a book of the future type iPad app which is now available from the App Store. It may sound like a villain from Doctor Who, but it looks extremely good and deserves serious attention.