Thursday, October 18, 2007

The BibliOdyssey Book

It is my privilege and pleasure to announce that a book based on the this humble website is now in release and available for purchase by the general public. Interested persons should head to the publisher's site if they are in Europe/UK and to Amazon if they are not.

For those without credit cards or who are allergic to online financial transactions, the latest advice has discerning bookshops in both USA and UK receiving their stock by the second week of November, with the rest of the world to follow shortly thereafter. You may otherwise encourage your favourite bookshop to seek supply (and a measurable improvement in taste and status) direct from the publisher.


BibliOdyssey - the book cover


As you might expect, the book features eclectic and rare book illustrations derived from many digital repositories, accompanied by some background commentary. It is not simply a regurgitation of what is here in the archives, although about two thirds of the images have appeared on the site previously.

With pre-production topping out at somewhere over 500 years, BibliOdyssey might well be the slowest book ever published. The serious part of the journey has taken more than a year of team effort involving myself and the UK firm of FUEL Design, headed up by Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell.

When I was first contacted with the suggestion in August 2006 I admit that I was fairly skeptical. "Unpossible, surely?" "How do we get permission?" "Which repositories?" "Who do we contact?" "What laws do we need to know?" "Which images?" "Which countries?" "Thematic or chronological or what?" "What happens if they say no?" "What happens if they say yes?"

Where I only saw insurmountable difficulties, FUEL took the long view, to their credit, softly batting away my initial objections and sketching out a very rough plan for how the project might move forward. They picked out some images, I suggested some institutions, we wrestled over the illustration choices; I did most of the contacting and all of the writing and FUEL did the overall editing, designing and packaging.

So the process has really been about establishing a dialogue with a lot of different people and institutions and being open about our intentions. It probably helped that I've had occasional exchanges with universities and libraries since the site started, so there is a certain familiarity 'out there' about BibliOdyssey. The response to the project idea was overwhelmingly favourable, although individual institutional policies and legal technicalities were sometimes an impediment. Many people went out of their way to accommodate our requests for higher resolution images or supplied interesting background to the books and images or gave recommendations about alternative image choices. We are eternally grateful for their assistance.

The book (like the site) covers a very wide spectrum of styles, time periods and subject matter. You can expect everything from astronomy to zoology and from Art Nouveau to the Renaissance, in something reminiscent of what I call a multi-post (except on steroids and growth hormone and with better grooming habits and no noisy computer fan in the background). I like to think that the trajectory of the book aims somewhere roughly between our internet users' penchant for a concentrated package of beguiling ephemera and as an introductory overview of the cultural wealth accessible from web archives for luddites. [redacted marketspeak: "making it the ideal Christmas present for everybody"]

As a final point I'd offer that, while it might sound like a totally haphazard collection of unrelated visual material, the book is in fact much more of a cohesive and interrelated survey of illustration history than any loose-canon wording here might suggest. The book is also a beautiful product - FUEL have done a wonderful job in the designy-printy stakes, and my objectivity is of course unimpeachable as I was on the other side of the planet and had no role in this facet of production.

While I'm in this rare trumpet-blowing mode: I did an interview with the George Lucas Educational Foundation - Edutopia Magazine - back in July and although it doesn't specifically refer to the book, it was done at exactly the same time as I was writing the book's introduction (which is in fact mostly about the background to the BibliOdyssey website), so inevitably includes a few of the thoughts that re-surface in the book. Because I am nothing if not intellectually lazy. Phantom of the Optical.

Once more for luck..


∧∧∧∧∧Late addition: I was interviewed by Elatia Harris for 3QuarksDaily∧∧∧∧∧

55 comments :

A.G. said...

hurray!

mr.h said...

As the lucky recipient of an advance copy, I must say this is a beautifully-produced book which would appeal to anyone who enjoys this site (& is well worth £15 of anyone's money).

Levi said...

Congratulations! Learning about this is a great way to start my day. I'll put in an order at my local bookshop today.

carlo said...

evviva!

Professor Estevez said...

I'm very pleased about this! I can't wait to see a copy (er, by which I mean purchase a copy).

I often use your website in my classes as a stellar example of the possibilities enabled by digital information technologies. That it has now spawned a low-tech corollary is a perfectly wonderful development.

Happy news for everyone!

George said...

Great news. I've already ordered my copy. Incidentally, I would love to hear your answers to those pesky questions: "How do we get permission?" "Which repositories?" "Who do we contact?" "What laws do we need to know?" "Which images?" "Which countries?" "Thematic or chronological or what?" "What happens if they say no?" "What happens if they say yes?"

Michael5000 said...

It worked! I bought!

cavalaxis said...

Congratulations! Wow! How cool is that! My favourite website on my bookshelf!

Lucía said...

¡Felicidades!
Congratulations!

Karla said...

I'm with George on those questions.

Books will be bought, but now we will all be wanting a wild launch party with autographs, cake, lots of champagne, and dancing on the tables all night long...

catatau said...

Wow, congratulations!

genevieve said...

Oh, fabulous news! Callooh callay!
Off to Amazon I go. Congratulations! this is a must-blog :)

greg said...

Félicitations!

elly yap said...

Pk may I be so bold to say, sexiest book of 2007?

Awesome news!

lucy tartan said...

Wow, that's terrific, congratulations. The story of getting the permissions probably deserves a book in itself.

lucy tartan said...

Plus: Dinos Chapman = awesome and perfect.

Mental Produce said...

Props PK. I've been following your work here for over a year. Very much looking forward to getting my hands on this blogformed treasure.

Michael said...

This news makes me happy for me, and for you too.
Perfect outcome!
And isn't it nice that the permissions are all superable.

namastenancy said...

I'm rushing off to Amazon.com right after I write this. Your site is one of absolute favorites and the interview with you is fascinating. Congratulations! It couldn't happen to a more deserving person.

Avel Angelica said...

Hello PK,

Congratulations on the publication of your book.
I can only imagine the all hard work and time that has gone into it.
I continue to visit and enjoy are site very much.

Thank you again

michelle said...

That's awesome!! :)

Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

Congratulations ... and now, over to Amazon!

Caty said...

Congratulations!
Great job

sarah j. said...

Congratulations, PK! You win at Internet!

Man, I know what I'm going to buy with my birthday money. From now on, when trying to explain the wonderful that is BibilOdyssey to friends and family, I can just show them this book. Awesome!

PEGO said...

Congratulations!

priya said...

i'm so glad to to hear about this book pk. congrats and yipee! and very interesting interview too. it answered my curiousity somewhat about the hows and whys of bibliodyssey...

peacay said...

Thanks for the encouragement everybody.

I'm not sure the practical details of the evolution of this project would make for much of a book.

That said, I might try and cobble together a short essay - in the next week(s) or so - giving some insight into the soap opera of blackmail and knife fights that transpired in the background. It's a tricky and dangerous business this extraction of images from institutions, without the aid of a large club and and a robust getaway vehicle, I tell you.

priya said...

well if a 'mid life crisis'can result in bibliodyssey, i must say i await the short essay with bated breath.

Larry Marder said...

I'm quite excited about the announcement of this book. In fact, the lizard part of my brain is shrieking "Must have! Must have!"
BibliOdyssey is consistently one of my favorite blogs to visit and I have no doubt that this will soon be one of my favorite books.
Hoo-hoo-HA & a Hoka-Hoka-HEY, PK!

Sharon said...

Ordered already! Looking forward to it.

Lisa Jarnot said...

Dear PK, The book looks great and does justice to your great blog. As a non-fan of Amazon (who funds the Republican Party in the U.S.), I would like to see a recommendation that U.S. fans buy the book through the American distributor, at www.artbook.com. I hope that doesn't sound too partisan... just that these are dark days here in the U.S.

best, and congratulations

Thomas libido

Emma said...

Congratulations! Sounds like a massive undertaking. Can't wait to see it.

Greg said...

Oh, wow...
I must say, I can't wait to pick it up. I've been visiting this site for a year and change now and I've been completely blown away by your dedication to finding consistantly interesting images, your informative blurbs, and the amount of time you've surely spent scouring and scrutinizing so many resources. Thank you for providing so much information and beautiful artwork.

Congratulations!

Aeron said...

Congratulations Peacay! This is something I've always wanted to do with Monster Brains (the theme of monsters in art thru history), very glad to see you've been able to put your incredible taste in illustration into print.

ainesse said...

well done and I hope you are proud of your acheivments the website and the book ...........

a huge amount of work I am sure!!

best wishes

Aine

pj said...

Congratulations!

bioephemera said...

You did what? You have a what? Good lord! Way to be secretive. . .

Rachel said...

Just getting caught up on my blog reading and saw this bit of news. Congrats! -theorist

JE said...

What a wonderful wonderful thing. And such a lovely design. Congratulations! From book to web to book...

lotusgreen said...

from the page spread on the publisher's page, it looks like they did a beautiful job with it.

ainesse said...

I have a feeling that it is not possible to directly contact PK or Paul aka the great one who creates this Bibliodyssey, because I wanted to seek his advice.
I have ordered my book and look forward to receiving it and browsing through the images.

MY QUESTION FOR PAUL or any others who can help is?

How or where can I get hold of an image of a horse fetus in a womb. Something along the lines of a diagram. I would also like one for a polar bear but .......I am a fine artist and this is something that interests me.

ortelius said...

last but not least: Congratulations

Pedro Leite Ribeiro said...

Many congratulations!
I hope the book will arrive soon to Portugal!

CP said...

Mon uncle,

Congratulations again on the book. After viewing it over a libation at the last congregation of our shared gene pool, I vowed to purchase a copy. In doing so I was somewhat surprised to find that Amazon had four second hand copies for sale. Another question for the universe: Who buys a book like this and sells it within three months? I will not rehash our discussion about why you have not put your full name to this book (I wonder how it will be catalogued in our national library of record?) - save to say that I will ensure that at least my copy bears your full name - and perhaps an inscription from you? Congratulations again.

(One of) your ungrateful newphews

CP

peacay said...

Well that's a form of greeting I don't see on here everyday.

Should I start with the "newphew" or just move straight to the irony of the masked nickname of 'CP' that comes without email or website address or any identifying information whatsoever hmm?

Heh. I thought you were up country submitting your cv for a canine purchase?

I hope you haven't subscribed to receive the follow up comments on this entry - that way, when the book is available in stores in Sydney in a couple of weeks for cheaper than it will currently cost on amazon with the shipping fee, I'll be able to forward a copy of this comment for your reading and financial pleasure! I will surely inscribe your copy....for a modest ongoing garnishee order attached to your income. ;- )

Carol said...

Gee Paul, and I ordered my two copies from Amazon the day you announced the book. Doesn't matter, I needed one as a Christmas present and the other is all mine. Congratulations on a great achievement.

Hemaworstje said...

well I'll be darned
just now i had to find out via a japan blog you had made a book , time to get my butt to the bookshop just merely out of respect for the pleasant years and piles of work thsi blog must have taken.
Aah why not i wil buy two , it is a nice gift to give.
greetz from the netherlands.

peacay said...

Hey thanks! I hope the book lives up to expectations.

Anna said...

Te lo sei meritato, questo sito è meraviglioso!
Anna (Italiana a Barcellona).

peacay said...

Grazie et gracias Anna!

kate said...

wow, pk, congrats!!! i had my head in the sand during the fall, and only just discovered the bibliodyssey book adventure... looking forward to snagging a copy from amazon, and am going to feature this on GDBar tomorrow!
cheers,
kate

Elmsley Rose said...

Dear Peakay,

I don't know if you remember me - Velvet Claw/Elmsley Rose. I was around a lot a year or so ago. It doesn't matter.

For no particular reason (I think I got sick and stopped looking at a lot of stuff) I stopped looking, but now I'm back. And SO pleased to see that you have a book out. You deserve much recognition for all of your hard work.
You can catch up on my stuff at
http://elmsleyrose.blogspot.com/

(perhaps - Project - Historical Book Cover - might interest you?). I am a calligrapher/illuminator/goth and have since taken up Elizabethan embroidery.

best, and best-est

peacay said...

Thanks Elmsley Rose and yes, of course, I remember you. Sorry to hear you haven't been well. If you're looking for more inspiration you can check through here and here. But then again, you look like you have your hands full already. [And thanks for the kind words!]

Robert said...

I'm planning my own blog, examining others, etc. so just poked my head in here and this is one of the most worthwhile blogs around.

Several years back the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston had a huge display of original prints from the middle ages that dealt with the grotesque forms and included plague - death and putrifaction being a big subject and social issues such as a large scale problem of drinking in England - gin was often highlighted and these images were astounding. People vomiting, drunken mothers leaving babies to die at the gutterside for a gin bottle; very complex and detailed. I could really go on. Sadly the museum has the collection stored in its basement. It should be a permanent display - that's how good it is. Any chance BibliOddyssey might feature something like this?

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