Fruit forever ripe

'Imitation of life' cover, Santos Museum of Economic Botany
Imitation of life cover, Santos Museum of Economic Botany

One of the best moments in working on beautiful illustrated books is when you see the final product.

When you’re an editor and/or proofreader, you only see the project at certain stages. You can visualise the final book in your imagination, but even when you’ve worked on the proofs it’s a fantastic surprise actually seeing the published book itself.

I’m always in awe of the work of the writer(s), designer, photographer and others, and grateful to have been a part of that team. And I give thanks to the publishing gods that people continue to collaborate and make big, sumptuous books!

Imitation of life – a visual catalogue is one of those projects. This book is seriously breathtaking. It still amazes me when I look at it, months after it was published. It’s a substantial hardback catalogue – a true visual feast – and won a 2014 MAPDA (Museums Australia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards) Award.

It’s the work of Tony Kanellos, cultural collections manager and curator at Adelaide’s Santos Museum of Economic Botany, with incredible design by Kate Burns and photography by Paul Atkins. (My contribution was tiny, copyediting the texts that bookend the catalogue.) Continue reading

A few stories for Children’s Book Week

It’s Children’s Book Week (16–22 August 2014), so let’s enjoy a few stories about literature for the young (and young-at-heart).

First up, an old school/new kid project out of the University of Colorado (Boulder): the Tactile Picture Books Project.

Tactile books have been around for a long time. They’re fantastic objects for introducing the magical world of books to very young children who are blind or visually impaired. You can read about the Tactile Book Advancement Group here, and about how to make fabric tactile books here. You can also find out more here about Vision Australia’s Feelix Library. It’s a great Braille book library for children who are blind or have low vision.

But the CU-Boulder Tactile Picture Books Project has a surprising ‘new kid’ aspect. It’s producing the first-ever 3D-printed tactile picture books.

University of Colorado Boulder students Abby Stangl and Jeeeun Kim are using 3D printers to assist very young blind and visually impaired readers (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)
Some pages from Goodnight moon – University of Colorado Boulder students Abby Stangl and Jeeeun Kim are using 3D printers to assist very young blind and visually impaired readers (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

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Escape into online treasures #2

(Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are respectfully advised that a person in a photograph in this post has passed away.)

Researching online can be a bit like taking off on a magic carpet ride.

There’s that sense of wonder at clicking on a website and easily navigating your way to a masterpiece. You can zoom in on the details of brushstrokes, handwriting, gesture. You get to see works that you may never see otherwise.

More prosaically, it certainly helps me to look at artworks closely when I’m editing a text describing them!

Portrait of Pixie Herbert in a bat costume, c 1923, NLA Commons on Flickr
She could almost be the e-genie of online treasures! Portrait of Pixie Herbert in a bat costume, c 1923, NLA Commons on Flickr

Do you ever get used to visiting a digitised treasure chest? I still feel like a genie’s spread the wishes of the world before me: a wealth of treasures … famed works at my fingertips … the power of creativity, right there on screen …

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Escape into online treasures #1

Without a doubt, among the great wonders of digitisation are the treasures it’s opened to the world.

In December last year, the Vatican Library and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library launched a project to make freely available online ancient texts from their incredible collections.

Both institutions have been digitising their collections prior to this. But the present project allows them to increase digital access on a much larger scale.

The Bodleian trove disseminated online last month includes no less than its Gutenberg Bible (1455).

The project’s been supported by a ₤2 million award from the Polonsky Foundation. You can read more about the foundation here, and about one of the trustees driving the project, Dr Leonard Polonsky and the foundation’s reasons for supporting the project. Continue reading