Category Archives: picture books

The PW Morning Report: Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Calvin Reid -- June 1st, 2011

Today’s links! And please check out our new Facebook Page.

DC Comics Reboots the Universe! Well, maybe the DC Universe: DC is relaunching its classic titles with new numbers and simultaneous day and date digital/print release.

Amazon vs. NACS. College bookstore Association seeks to dismiss Amazon suit over ads for discounted textbooks.

The saga continues. Borders asks court for more time for turnaround plan.

Cave books. Her fans rejoice as Jean Auel returns with a new book set among prehistoric cave men and women.

Buy this F***ing Book! Go to the the Bookstore already!

The case of the purloined trailer! Sony maybe has the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of Girl with the Dragon Tatoo removed from the web.

Let’s hope so. Does reading make us better people?

SXSW: Ogilvy & Mather Gives Back Cool Graphic Recordings

Calvin Reid -- March 13th, 2011

Jordan Berkowitz (l.) and artist Heather Willems in front of her drawing on "Health in Africa"

One of the first things I noted at certain SXSW panels was the presence of artists, set up with large boards and drawing tables, frantically drawing and sketching. Turns out they are part of Ogilvy Notes, an impressive visual project by the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather that is creating large-scale “visual notes” or vivid graphic documentation of a selection of panels and keynotes, improvised and executed on the spot by a team of artists.

Directed by Jordan Berkowitz, Ogilvy & Mather executive director Creative Technology & Innovation, Ogilvy Notes has brought together a team of artists that specialize in a process called variously, “viz notes,” or “graphic facilitation.” The artists set up at events, panels or business meetings and have the ability to sketch representations of the themes, topics and high points of the discussion on the spot, rendering a kind of graphic map of the event in a frenzy of typographic and representational design. Although the drawings have elements of comics, they really offer an overall field of clever, funny and pointed illustration that essentially visually recreates the event they feature.

“They’re a stream of consciousness creation,” said Berkowitz, who brought together a team of about 6 artists who specialize in this kind of on-the-spot graphic recreation. At a time when schools, businesses and the media have realized the importance of visual learning and visual storytelling, the project offers an inventive and memorable strategy to connect and communicate topical issues with the public.

“Its an amazing skill. How do you manage to spot and represent a point made in an ongoing discussion,” Berkowitz said. Ogilvy is using the artists as way to “give back”, Berkowitz said, to the SXSW community. He also emphasized that a team of editors went over the schedule to choose a broad range of panels—from “Public Transit Data and APIs” to “Black Women in Media”—“we didn’t want the content to be self-serving; there is bredth and depth in the subject matter,” said Berkowitz.

The project will document panels for three days over the weekend and producing a phenomenal 25-30 drawings at day! Once completed the project will have about 85-90 drawings and Ogilvy will turn them into original prints and make them available for free (you can pick them up today). In addition the public can download free high resolution versions of all the drawings at the Ogilvy Notes website.

“They’re constructed and created in the moment, people can find them through twitter and facebook,” Berkowitz said. Ogilvy has stacked the large drawings in a kind of “house of cards” sculptural installation on the top level of the Austin Convention Center. Berkowitz said the site is also encouraging artists interested in working in this manner to upload their sketchbooks and art and they may get a chance to work on future graphic documentations.

Black Comic Book Day in Harlem

Calvin Reid -- February 19th, 2011

Cartoonist Jerry Craft, creator of the Mama’s Boyz comics strip and book collections, has teamed up with African American comics creators and booksellers to hold a series of Black Comic Book Day events in different cities during African American History Month. New York’s Black Comic Book Day is Sat. February 19 and will be held at the Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem today from 2pm to 4pm.

The event is really a collaboration between comics artists and bookstores in Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit and will feature establishing permanent sales displays of comics and graphic novels by black creators—independent artists as well as artists supported by big publishers—in venues in all the cities. Craft has teamed up with legendary Chicago based cartoonist Turtel Onli, founder of The Black Age of Comic Conventions in Chicago as well as being an instrumental figure in supporting independent black cartooning in Chicago and around the country.

Black Comic Book Day is an effort to both highlight the works of African American cartoonists as well as show the ability of comics to encourage reading and inspire creativity and imagination in girls and boys. “The only reason I, and most of my friends, read regularly was because of comic books,” Craft said. “I still remember the excitement of running to the corner store and seeing the new issue of Spider-Man waiting for me. Reading comics helped build our vocabularies. Playing games pretending to be the Silver Surfer or the Incredible Hulk stimulated our imaginations.”

Starting at 2pm today (Feb. 19) the Hue-Man Bookstore will feature appearances by Craft as well as Ray Billingsley (Curtis), comic book writers N. Steven Harris (Ajala), Alex Simmons (Archie: The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton) and comics historian Professor Bill Foster and others. The Hue-Man Bookstore and Café is located in Harlem at 2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd. Between 124th Street and 125th Street.

Blio Finally Arrives and Complaints Follow; KNFB Responds

Calvin Reid -- September 29th, 2010

The first day of any new thing can be a little shakey and yesterday’s release of Blio, the much anticipated e-reading software developed by Ray Kurzweil and KNFB Reading Technology in conjunction with Baker & Taylor, seemed about as shakey as it gets. Blio is e-reading software that supports video, audio, original full-color layouts and an enhanced Text to Speech feature.  Originally announced in late 2009, the free software has been delayed but was finally released on September 28. And that’s where our problems with Blio begin.

On the first day of its free downloads, even savvy tech users complained of difficulty installing the software. Others complained of wildly varying prices and a lack of for-pay titles to buy as well as a poor functioning text to speech feature that was much hyped in Blio’s many demos. And to top it all off, Hadrian Gardeur, founder of free e-book site, complained on Twitter that Blio was offering downloads of the Feedbook catalog without their permission (“Hey Blio, next time that you add our OPDS catalog to a commercial product, send us an e-mail first.”)

Needless to say the twitterati were unhappy and variations on #blio #fail hashtags were prominent throughout the day on Twitter.  To be fair, there were users who had no problems installing Blio. And there were others who said that while they had some ” issues”  with Blio’s debut, they were still pleased with its performance and potential.  PW was able to reach Peter Chapman, an executive at KNFB Reading Technology, who blamed the problems on “first day jitters,” and said the company was working to correct the problems.

Chapman says the problems around installing Blio only affected people using Windows XP. The problems, he said, were caused by bad software hosted by a third party client Blio is using to host downloads. “It is now fixed but it took us most of the day to get it down,” Chapman said. He acknowledged that most people’s Text To Speech (TTS) would likely have problems because, “the TTS software on most Windows machines isn’t very good.” KNFB, Chapman said, is in the process of making new and affordable TTS software available through the Blio bookstore. Chapman said consumers dissatisfied with their TTS can purchase better  (but significantly more expensive) software immediately online that will improve its quality. However, he said they are working with TTS software vendors to offer a better and much cheaper TTS software that will allow users to choose different voice qualities and he said it will be available very soon.

The Blio e-book store launched with about 11,000 for-pay titles and Chapman said KNFB is uploading “700 to 800 new books every day. We’re loading them by their sales ranking, the most popular books are being uploaded first.” He blamed wildly varying prices (one user on Twitter complained of a Steig Larsson novel being offered for $27.95) on inputing errors that have now been corrected.  “We have books from all the big six publishers and prices are based on whether they use the Agency Model or the traditional wholesale model; these days e-book are all priced pretty much the same.” And no, Chapman says, Blio will not support ePub titles consumers may have purchased from other e-bookstores, “ePub books from other vendors have different DRM and are not compatible,” he said. But he also emphasized that Blio is focused on graphical books, “and we are offering digital books that no one else has, cookbooks, children’s books; books with visual content.”

According to Chapman, Blio/KNFB has been in discussions with Feedbooks and Gardeur about using their catalog of free books,  but acknowledged that  “we didn’t tell him exactly when we would start.” And he also acknowledged that users that signed up for the Blio mailing list to be notified when it was available were not notified until after the site was up and working,  “because we didn’t want to send people to a site that wan’t ready.”

And Chapman said Blio’s initial release was limited to Windows only because “of the numbers and the bigger screens of laptops and desktops are more appropriate to the viewing experience.” He said a Mac version is in the works and Blio for iOS4—for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad—is currently in beta.

“Birthing a new product is always difficult and stressful,” Chapman said, “but I’m sure we’re through the worst of it.”