Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Steampunk Redux

Talking about steampunk laptops and keyboards barely a day ago, I've come to know that John Coulthart, an artist and designer based in UK whose works are truly fantastic, has also recently created the following steampunk design for Modofly.  Nice work indeed.

Besides, you may want to take a look at Dana Mattock’s incredible
Steampunk Frankenstein casemod at Flickr.  I wish I can have one myself -- Oh yes! How I wish.  I'm very well aware that this does not come cheap.  A steampunk keyboard from Datamancer will cost you USD1,200.00 onwards depending on the design and materials used.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Books Written by A Machine

Believe it or not ?  There is one such professor, Philip M Parker (born June 20, 1960) of management science at French business school, who has so-called written more than 200,000 - yes, 200,000 - books to date. How can he archive this? You ask.

Well, he achieves his prolific authorship thanks to his invention - and patenting - of
a machine which writes books, creating them from internet and database searches in order to eliminate or substantially reduce "the costs associated with human labour, such as authors, editors, graphic artists, data analysts, translators, distributors and marketing personnel". Wow! That's great!

"I think it's slightly controversial as it was written by a computer, but given the number of celebrity memoirs out there that are ghostwritten, I don't think it's too strange." ~
The Bookseller magazine

There are book vending machines, but book writing machine .....? It's still pretty odd to me.

Anyway, it would be drop dead nice if the writing machine looks like one of these prestigious steampunk laptops and keyboards created by Richard Nagy (aka
Datamancer) .

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bloody Bookmarks

Feel like making your books bleed ? Very well then, these custom-made bookmarks (grey, white and red) are for you.

What they say : 
"In a few cases it might just seem you spilled something on your book but the blood one in particular makes it seem as if your favorite volumes have been done grave internal injury."

You definitely stand out from the crowd with this cool product, especially the red one.

You can purchase the bookmarks (a set of 3) from DesignBoom. Though the price tag is truly a bit hefty - $24 product + $5 shipping and handling = $29 total.

Go here to view some other brilliant blood-themed designs. I quite like the shower curtain and bath mat (a bit scary though), and of course, not forgetting that one of a kind blood pillow. Hehe ..... (Think of what I can do with these cool stuff. Naughty, naughty!)

How bad is the market ?

Received this humorous image from a friend today.  Very funny!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Books you can't put down

Upon reading this article today, I can't stop laughing at myself. What a blur queen I was - I had missed a plane back to Singapore from Tokyo few years ago, and nearly missed an outbound plane to Hong Kong in Jan'09. 

The first one, not because of book though, my son and I were so engrossed in admiring and selecting the Masked Rider's toys in an airport shop till I suddenly remembered we got a flight to catch ..... only then 10 minutes had passed the departure time when we reached the gate. In the end, I had to fork out an extra SGD400.00 to get another pair of tickets for next day flight, and another SGD100.00 for accommodation. Errrr ......

The second occurrence was indeed because of book. I was happily browsing through a book in Harris when I heard the last call for my flight. Oh No! Not again. Panicky, together with my son (I felt sorry for him), we quickly ran to the gate in full force, and managed to board the plane in time. This round, we were barely 10 minutes prior to the departure time. Phew!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Andrés Sandoval

Thanks to Julia of Books by Its Cover, I've come to know a Brazilian based artist, Andrés Sandoval's works. His illustrations, full of bright colour patterns and interesting shapes, are truly beautiful and inspiring. Take a look.

Tempted ?  Yes.  Just can't help it!  I've purchased 3 of his illustrated books straightaway --
Viagens para lugares que eu nunca fui, De como o mulato porciúncula descarregou seu defunto & Histórias para ler sem pressa -- from Livraria da Travessa, a bookshop in Brazil.  Though I hardly know any Portuguese. And you know what, I've also learnt a new word - Singapore in Portuguese is Cingapura, I nearly cannot find it from the pull-down list, making me wonder if my country is still unknowable to some. Haha .....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Getting away with murder

For those who are into crime fiction, you might want to read this article in The Observer by Tobias Jones, a British author and journalist best known for the book he wrote about Italy, The Dark Heart of Italy in 2003, explaining why detective stories set in exotic locations are becoming more and more popular.

Even the travel specialist bookshop Daunt Books in London, is selling crime books under country headings alongside the Rough Guides and Lovely Planets. Fascinating.

Nowadays Crime books are so popular that if writers want to pay the rent, they have to put a dead body and a detective into their travel books. How true ?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Books are still an incredible technology!

This funny comic from Penny-Arcade explains that books are still an incredible - even competitive - technology.

With the unavoidable proliferation of the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader Digital Book around the globe, it is not surprised for me to encounter more and more MRT commuters do carry one. Even some people use the famed "iPod Touch" to read ebooks.  I'm still kind of resistant of using one, despite the overwhelming advantages like ultra portable, holds more than 100 ebooks, and with the substantial improvement to an eye-friendly display.

It just can't compare with the satisfaction of holding a printed book, admiring the book design, touching the papers, smelling the sweet odor, flipping and counting the pages and assessing the weight of it in your hand. Oh yes, you always want to make a peek .....

You can call me old-fashion, I don't care.  To me,, books in printed form are still the best.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Books, Publishing and Hard Times

Does the combination of the convenience of the Internet and the current economic climate really create circumstances potentially favorable to the secondhand book trade?

Read this
article by John Huckans in March 2009 issue of Book Source Magazine. It may provide you some insights on how to tackle and take advantage of the situation.

La Libreria

In case you don't know, there is one book shop, La Libreria,  selling and promoting artists' books and the book arts here, yes, in Singapore. The book shop, previously at Queen Street, was moved in Oct 2008 to the recent location at University Cultural Centre, NUS Musuem, Level 3, 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119279 (Tel:6516 8797). Opening hours are 12-19 Wed-Sat, 12-18 Sun, closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and public holidays.

La Libreria is like an underground movement of the art world, which stealthily but steadily bringing in edgy and thoughtprovoking works/exhibitions. Bookbinding workshops are held regularly as well.

It's a pity that one cannot view the beautiful artists' books online.

This A-book-that-is-shut-is-just-a-block poster, designed by Amandine Alessandra, is now available for sale on SuperMarketo for 20GBP.

Nice work, don't you think so ?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Evolution of Anatomy Illustrations

For those of you who are interested to get a glimpse of the evolution of images in anatomy books between 1450 and 1800, do visit this site. You can also go ahead and visit the "Historical Anatomies On The Web" hosted by the National Library of Medicine for a full blow.  A word of warning though, some might find the illustrations disturbing, or not safe for work? You decide.

The slide show : Anatomy Lessons thru the Ages (total 10 images) at Scientific American is an alternative choice for the light-hearted.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bookstores in Singapore

I've just updated the list today, mainly to include another 2 more Chinese bookstores to it.

Of course, the list is not all.  There are many more bookstores scattered around Singapore, mostly  located in our neighbourhood shopping centres.  For example, San Bookshop, which provides rental service of second-hand books in Romance and general fiction genre, with total 8 outlets right now - 3 outlets that I know of are at Kovan Shopping Centre, Singapore Plaza and Funan DigitalLife Mall. There is also a used book dealer at Beauty World Centre in Upper Bukit Timah Road, but I never visit since 2001 as it is a bit off the road for me.

In every one's heart simply lies a special bookshop that never fail to lure you there over and over again. Scary, hah ?

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Defense of Readers

Here is an interesting article by Mandy Brown in A List Apart, an online magazine for people who make websites.

My favourite passages :

"What each of these readers has in common is an ability to create solitude under circumstances that would seem to prohibit it. Reading is a necessarily solitary experience—like dying, everyone reads alone—but over the centuries readers have learned how to cultivate that solitude, how to grow it in the least hospitable environments."

"Think of your first encounter with a book. You look at the cover to get a sense of it, then perhaps flip to the back or the flaps to skim the publisher’s copy. Opening the book, you might glance at the title page, or quickly run your eyes over the table of contents. Maybe you peek into the back to check the page count, or casually assess the weight of the book in your hand. If it’s a hardcover, you might take the dust jacket off, lest it get in the way." (Haha .... exactly what I always do.)

"Once a reader has commanded the aura of solitude around them, they become nearly impenetrable. A reader who is thoroughly engrossed in reading may not hear you if you call her name. Call her name again, however, and she will look up, annoyed. The key is not to halt all activity around a reader, but to give her her space. " (Yes, leave me alone.)

Reading rots your brain?

"Can you imagine the Head of the Royal Institution suggesting that time spent by children reading and writing online in their bedroom was damaging their brains and cutting them off from social interaction?"

Susan Greenfield, neuroscientist and head of the Royal Institution, has warned that young people's brains may be fundamentally altered by Internet use. See
here for yourself.

I would say that, yes,  it is a worrying trend that nowadays children/youngsters simply spend too much time in front of the computer screen gaming instead of "socializing" (eg. going out with friends) and playing sports.  But reading ?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Print Ad for Bookstores

Purely by chance, I have come across some print ads done recently for bookstores.....thought of sharing with all of you.

The General without his Labyrinth

The bearable lightness of being

Crime without punishment

These 3, out of 4, are for Rayuela Libreria, a bookstore in Málaga, Southern Spain.  The theme is "The act of reading allows you, thanks to your own imagination, to become whoever you want without paying for the consequences of your actions, without the remorse, that is why the copy is: live without consequences."

The following 3 are for Blossom Book House in Bangalore, India.

For age old favourites

Quite similar to the above, this one is for Book World, a second-hand bookstore in Satwa and Karama, Dubai.

Gracefully Aged Campaign

Apparently the bookstore was started by someone out of love for books, thus the very reasonably priced old books. Hmm .....