Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Can a Papermaker Save Civilization

Tim Barret was raised in what was once known as "Paper City", in Kalamazoo, Mich.  Now 61, he has dedicated his life to unlocking the mysteries of paper, "which he regards as both the elemental stuff of civilization and an endangered species in digital Culture.

This New York Times story goes through the history of papermaking, the process of papermaking, and one man who remains dedicated to preserving paper's place in modern society because "paper is a big part of who we are."

Read More HERE

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Printing Books at Home

While the quick and easy binding kit that I have developed and describe at www.bookmakingkit.com makes it simple to create an artisanal quality hardcover book at home, I've been struggling to find the best way to print signatures at home.  The main challenge has been finding a way to print landscape, double-sided pages with 2 book pages on each side that are chronological when the pile is folded.  It turns out that this is easy if you have Word on a PC.  If (like me) you work on a Mac, Word does not have this "book fold" function and you have to use Adobe Acrobat.  Either way, this is easy and opens up a whole new world of homemade bookmaking.  Check out the resources that will help you here:


Monday, November 19, 2012


The owner of the Monkey's Paw used bookstore in Toronto built this machine to help distribute some of the hardest-to-sell print books on his shelves.  In his words, "It's like it completely reinjects the mystery into these old printed artifacts."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Good Food Workbook

In honor of Food Day (next Weds the 24th) I built the Good Food Workbook,  a website with activities that help kids better understand and enjoy the good foods that are available to them regardless of where they live. 

In the short term, this is just a place to host exercises online, but the long term goal is to have every kid receive a customized printed cookbook that is specific to their city/town and the foods that they most enjoy. These books would be made available for free to children living in poorer communities and "food deserts".

I'm asking parents and teachers to submit more activities and will award $50 to the four that get the most votes/comments. Feel free to share if you know any foodie parents or teachers.


Newsweek Ends Print Edition

On December 31, Newsweek will distribute its last print edition and go all-digital into the future.  As always, we need to maintain a balance between print and digital, as each has unique strengths and weaknesses.  This is one case where the weekly format and the expenses of printing and distribution probably make sense.  That said, I don't use their website and do often buy the magazine when I'm at the airport, so they have most likely lost at least one customer.

Read the article here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Defense of Paper

There is still a place for paper in the workspace.  "Paper still matters".


Some great quotes from this article:

"[Paper] can be a luscious and beautiful thing - the way we savor fine food and wine, we can savor paper and ink and what it does for us."
- Steve Leveen

"[Paper is], in your face. Its physical presence can be a goad to completing tasks, whereas computer files can easily be hidden and thus forgotten."
- David Allen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Long Live Paper

Educational Publishing, my day-job, is on fire with discussions about Education Secretary Duncan's announcement that all K-12 textbooks will soon be digital. 

While I do see some positives with this shift (especially in cases where students are using textbooks that are hopelessly out of date), there is a real danger in "threatening to light a bonfire to a tried-and-true technology — good old paper — that has been the foundation for one of the great educational systems on the planet", as Justin Hollander has articulated on the New York Times Opinion page today in his piece:


Handmade Books in Portland

A mutual friend turned me on to Hinged Strung Stitched, a bookmaking company in Portland that makes beautiful custom books and boxes.

If you are in Portland today, they are having an open house.  For more information, click here.

Monday, October 1, 2012


This is a great product that allows kids to create their own book content and then the packaging materials to send that content in to have it bound into a hard-cover book.  It is incredibly innovate and well-priced.  I've bought two copies for neighbor kids to try and the hardest aspect of the product design seems to be to get the kids and parents to open the box.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Medium is the Message

I finally dug up a David Brooks editorial that inspired me to create this blog.  In summary, he points to research that:

". . . illustrates the tremendous power of books. We already knew, from research in 27 countries, that kids who grow up in a home with 500 books stay in school longer and do better. This new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains."

You can read the entire editorial here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Small Presses Take Brooklyn

This is an amazing video from the New York Times talking about small presses that are thriving in Brooklyn, each using a unique combination of traditional publishing technologies and digital technologies.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Year of Handmade Books

Today is my 39th birthday and day #1 in a one year commitment to enable the creation of 2,080 new handmade books before my 40th birthday (one for each week I will have been alive).  To start, I am going to launch the following three experiments in handmade bookmaking:

BookmakingKit.com is a simple and inexpensive kit that allows anybody to create a customized and original handmade book in minutes.

Cook Like a Grandma is an experiment in crowdsourcing content to create an enormous collection of recipes that allow Grandmothers to be remembered "the way that they want to be remembered."  These recipes can be used to create a customized cookbook that you can keep in the kitchen or give as a gift.

The Good Food Workbook is a customizable collection of recipes and activities that help students identify their local food resources and the best ways to bring good food into their families lives.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

There is an important place for eBooks, but . . .

There is a very important place for digital books in our modern culture. After 15 years in corporate publishing (mostly print), I've been watching the industry move quickly into digital transmission and sales of our content. First this was a very slow transformation but now it is moving rapidly. This is a good thing for so many reasons. In many cases, it will benefit both publishing companies and their customers. There is also an incredible opportunity to use digital publishing to bring content quickly and efficiently to new places all around the world.

In 2008, my wife and I raised money to build what we called the "GeoDiscovery Library" at an orphanage in a remote village in Ghana. Through the support of a wide group of donors as well as a sponsorship from the National Geographic Society, we were able to construct the library shown above and in the following video.

While I am sure that the books and maps that we provided have presented new ideas and hours of entertainment to the children, I am sure that the most lasting investment that we made was enabling wifi internet access in the village, powered by a mix of solar and wind energy and linked to the internet through a satellite.

This sustainably-powered internet infrastructure was used by the WorldReader "one Kindle-per-Child" project to provide one Kindle to each child in the 5th year class and has been covered by Wired, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post.

The use of digital distribution allowed us to open up a huge new library of content to these students and gave them the freedom to look for books outside of the limited collection housed in the 4 walls of that library. I have little doubt that this is a good thing.

Between this project, my day job at a major US publisher and as owner of Hudson River Publishing, I have worked in numerous ways to facilitate the digital transformation that is now guiding the publishing industry. I have, in my own small way, helped develop content and infrastructure that has enabled this transformation.

With this in mind, I recognize the value of eBooks. Still, I greatly value the printed book and believe that they continue to do their job perfectly.

I still love printed books, and I believe that I am not alone. That is why I am starting this blog.

Visual History of the Reading Device