archive for the Books category

Devil May Care

Books Monday 19th May 2008

Penguin are releasing a new Bond novel entitled “Devil May Care“. Guess who’s writing it? Yes, Sebastian Faulks. It’s released next week and it could be awesome.


New Bond Covers

Books,Design Saturday 10th May 2008

The new Bond covers from Penguin are gorgeous:


Chip Kidd

Books Wednesday 14th November 2007

Very interesting interview with book jacket designer extraordinarire Mr Chip Kidd. My good buddies Ian and (the awesome) Jed bought me Chip Kidd’s gorgeous Book One last Christmas, it is supremely shiny.


Gibson Cometh

Books,Edinburgh Sunday 26th August 2007

Billy G is the ‘hood! I’m looking forward to seeing him tomorrow night.


Gibson in Edinburgh

Books,Edinburgh Monday 25th June 2007

Wahey! William Gibson is doing an event at the Book Festival in August. I’m booked myself a ticket already. Hopefully I can get a signed copy of Spook Country whilst I’m there.


Gibson in Globe & Mail

Books Friday 1st June 2007

New-found friends, often as not, rented high-ceilinged rooms in crumbling townhouses, their slate rooflines fenced with rusting traceries of cast-iron, curlicues I’d only seen in Charles Addams cartoons. Everything painted a uniform dead green, like the face of a corpse in those same Addams cartoons. If you took a penknife and scraped a little of the green away, you discovered marvels: brown marble shot with paler veins, ornate bronze fixtures, carved oak. In the more stygian reaches of cellar, in such places, there were still to be found fully connected gaslight fixtures, forgotten, protruding from dank plaster like fairy pipes, each with a little flowered twist-key to stop the gas.

Man, I love Gibson’s style. Read the rest of the article over at Canada’s Globe & Mail.


Kurt Vonnegut Dies

Books Friday 13th April 2007

OK, I admit it. I haven’t actually read any Vonnegut but he was on my todo list of books to read. On the way home from work last night I picked up Slaughter House 5 from our friendly local Oxfam bookshop where the emo-tastic girl who worked there greeted my purchase with “omg did you hear he just died!?”. Yes, yes I did.


Good Weekend

Books,Edinburgh,General Wednesday 7th March 2007

My parents were visiting last weekend (and Monday) and we managed to cram in a lot of sights and eating out.


Went out for a brilliant lunch at Centotre, a swish Italian place on George street. We had to wait a while for a table but it was certainly it. I had some gorgeous pasta with really spicy rustic sausage stirred into it. Then a super-chocolaty desert that was all very well presented. Highly recommended. Kerry had to work in the evening so my folks and I went to the Cameo to see Notes on a Scandal. Pretty much does what it says on the tin. Judy Dench is rather menacing when she gets to play a villain and Cate Blanchett is, as usual, gorgeously serene.


Had breakfast out with Ian and Neil and then toured the many second hand bookshops in the South side. I picked up up a load of retro Bond paperbacks which I intend to do something clever with, and Felaheen by JCG.


Killed time in National Gallery on the Mound, playing with their very intuitive touch screen “library” computers. Caught the free galleries bus out to Stockbridge. Saw Off the Wall and Geometry in Art exhibitions at the Modern Art and Dean galleries respectively. Had lunch in the Modern Art cafe, good food and a good location. We took a very meandering route back into town by walking up the Water of Leith footpath through Dean Village and emerging at yet more second-hand bookshops where I got More Eric Meyer on CSS for 2 quid, bargain! In the evening we had Tapas out at Barioja and Kerry had her first drink (of alcohol) for three months!


SCI FI channel to make The Diamond Age

Books,Movies & TV Tuesday 16th January 2007

The SCI FI channel are making a TV version of Neal Stephenson’s awesome book The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer.


Typographic Elements

Books,Design Sunday 14th January 2007

I finally got my copy of The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst from Amazon. As part of my new year resolutions I’m on a quest to learn something about typography. I must layout text on a web page every day at work at I’d like to know how to do it properly, and therefore improving the value of the page. After reading around on the web this book seems to be the bible and is very nicely designed and looks to be pretty readable. There’s even some chap doing an online version with Bringhurt’s typographic guidelines ‘Applied to the Web’. If you’re going to buy it online make sure you get the latest edition (3.1), which wasn’t immediately findable on amazon uk.


“Not In the Guide Book” Launch Party

Books Monday 13th November 2006

Last Friday was the launch of James and Alex’s book Not In the Guide Book, a collection of the best content from Google Sightseeing at the swanky Indigo Yard. For the help I gave them with the site when they first launched I got the first copy signed by them both, cheers guys! The books is surprisingly shiny and is neater and more compact than I was expecting. They’ve licensed all the images from the appropriate data providers and given the blog-style entries more polish to make them “book worthy”. It works well and I hope they sell lots. I think the cover lets it down terribly though and Alex lamented that they’d asked to design it themselves (he is a Graphic Designer) but the publisher wouldn’t budge.

There are some god-awful photos from my phone on a Flickr set.


The new

Books,Design Thursday 12th October 2006

I’ve just checked out the waterstones website after noticing an ad in todays Metro. This new site is a reversal of their online strategy as previously the site was run as a glorified amazon affiliate. It was basically just a mirror of amazon’s book site with a waterstones logo at the top.

This new site is much nicer. It has a fresh and clean style and even has a few trendy curved boxes. The styled form elements look a little like a flash app but help to tie together the overall style. Doing a quick comparison the pricing seems competitive and the shipping is marginally cheaper. The threshold for free shipping is the same as amazon (£15) but amazon’s free shipping is “Super Saver” i.e. slow. It’s nice to see that they’ve improved the events and local store information (something which amazon did terribly) and that bookseller reviews are intergrated with product descriptions. The much talked about blogs are a little on the shonky side with no RSS and no visible actual blog-like structure.

Overall though, a vast improvement on the previous incarnation.

Disclaimer: I used to work at waterstones

Barter Books

Books,General,Me Monday 31st July 2006

My parents were in Alnwick for the weekend seeing Jools Holland at Alnwick Castle. I got the train down to see them yesterday, Alnmouth station is only an hour on the train from Edinburgh. You can’t go to Alnwick without going to the awesome Barter Books, one of the largest second hand bookshops in Britain. The place is huge! It’s based in Alnwick’s very grand Victorian railway station and has gazillions of second hand books on a myriad of subjects. All pretty reasonably priced, unlike some places in Edinburgh where you can often get the same book new on amazon for a quid more. They’ve also got cases of old first editions and antique stuff, all very nicely presented. Plus a large reading room with newspapers, seats everywhere and very cheap coffee and cakes that you pay for on an honesty basis. It’s a book geeks dream. We could easily have spent the whole day there but we managed to drag ourselves away after an hour and a bit. We had lunch in the courtyard at The Art House which did nice food but the service was a little slow. After lunch we wandered into the town square where the Alnwick International Music Festival was happening and wandered among the trinket stalls listening to Mexican dancing and Lithuanian harp playing. A good day out with some cracking weather.

The book haul:

  • The Bourne Identity
  • Cross of Iron
  • Straw Men
  • Idlewild
  • The Godfather The Return

Books,Edinburgh Saturday 20th May 2006

Joe has a great post about Waterstones decision to break out of it’s (totally insane) e-commerce relationship with amazon.

“The new website will embrace employee blogging, a dramatic reversal for the company that emerged last year as the first British company to sack an employee for blogging.

Joe Gordon, 37, who worked for Waterstone’s in Edinburgh for 11 years, was dismissed for personal commentary regarding his day-to-day life at the bookstore on his blog.

However, Mr Giles said HMV’s new digital approach would not extend to rehiring Mr Gordon.”

Man, that is priceless.


Joe FM

Books,Movies & TV Wednesday 22nd March 2006

In Joe’s never ending world domination scheme he has now made it on to Radio Scotland’s Radio Cafe progamme, talking about graphic novels and their corresponding movies. You can of course hear the show online thanks to those nice people at the BBC.


Wall & Piece

Books Sunday 13th November 2005


Kerry bought me the shiny new Banksy book “Wall & Piece”. It is supremely awesome, practically every page makes me smile at the ingenious stencils. This book is a very arty coffee table type thing which is quite a departure from his others, which were almost like pamflets. I’ll never forget the jacket blurb on “Cut It Out”:

If you only ever read one book in your life
I highly recommend…
you keep your f***ing mouth shut.

I heartily agree.


Palin’s Travels

Books,Links Thursday 28th July 2005

Wow, Michael Palin has all of his travel books available on his website to read, for free. I’m currently reading (a hardcopy) of Himalya and it’s a very pleasant book, factual yet entertaining aswell.


God’s Little Toys

Books,Technology Thursday 7th July 2005

Nice read over on Wired by William Gibson about the remix, cut ‘n’ paste creative culture of today.


Cut It Out

Books,Design Monday 4th April 2005
cut it out cover

I picked up the latest Banksy book on Saturday and it’s great! It covers all his latest ‘installations’ and his gallery targetting that I blogged about earlier. which sells lots of his stuff has unfortunately sold out, but you can still get it on amazon.


Irony Strikes!

Books,Links Tuesday 8th March 2005

Joe has found a new job working for Forbidden Planet which is probably one of his dream companies to work for. He’s not just working for them though, he’s now running the Company Blog. Oh the irony!


Neal Stephenson

Books Saturday 12th February 2005

Great interview with Neal Stephenson over on Past, Present, and Future: The author of the widely praised Baroque Cycle on science, markets, and post-9/11 America


Raising The Bar

Books,Gaming Monday 17th January 2005

I just got this with some of my christmas money. It is extremely shiny and nice:


More Waterstones

Books,Edinburgh,News Monday 10th January 2005

After talking to Jed (our local friendly lawyer) I figure I should make my position clearer on the whole Joe firing issue. I understand that what Joe did was most likely in breach of his contract and can easily be called Gross Misconduct. It’s just I expected a company such as Waterstones, that sells books, to have a slightly more open-minded approach to this whole thing. A minor reprimand would have been a more apropriate response in my opinion.

Also, stop the presses, Joe has made the front page of boingboing. They’ve quoted a bit of his post where he talks about me, I wish I’d gotten on to boingboing under better circumstances.



Books,Edinburgh,News Saturday 8th January 2005

I left Waterstones over 6 months ago now and it was basically going downhill when I started about two years ago. Higher levels of management were imposing more HMV-like directives down through the structure and it was all getting very ‘un-bookshoppy’ in my opinion. But hey! I’m glad I don’t work there now because my fellow mate/blogging/geek Joe Gordon has been fired for blogging about working there. OK, he made some small criticisms about the management style but nothing that would warrant a full dismissal. Apparently it was ‘gross misconduct’ and ‘brought the company into disrepute’.

I really do feel for Joe, he certainly brightened the place up when I was there. But he was so frustrated with some aspects of the business that were being imposed. He had to vent somewhere and his blog turned out to be an ideal outlet. His venting was not a frequent thing, after all his blog is based around his satirical magazine, it’s not just a personal blog.

After I stopped working in waterstones I realised how crap it is. I only ever go in there now to talk to people I worked with and get the latest goss. Shops like Blackwells or Ottakars just have more soul. Waterstones is just like a shell that has books and I till in it. OK, this may be a little all-encompassing. There are some renegade branches out there, or ones that have enough clought to get away with stuff (like Manchester Deansgate) but Edinburgh – East End just seems cold. Anyway, I buy most of my books online now from amazon or second stuff from the nice wee shops in Edinburgh.

Joe also seems to have lots of other support on the internet: here, here, here and here.


Second World War History

Books Thursday 16th December 2004

I finally finished reading this fantastic book the other night: The Second World War by John Keegan. It’s taken me quite a while, mainly as I stopped reading for a bit whilst I was “flat limbo”. It was a fantastic, if very long read. I’ve always been interested in war in general and so especially in WW2. But, I hadn’t really read a book that covered the whole thing. Keegan very clevery manages to break down the different styles of warfare and the different regions that the conflict took place in. He covers the massive tank battles at Kursk, the ‘island hopping’ marines in the Pacific and much, much more. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to read a history of the war.


Edinburgh SF Book Group

Books Saturday 11th September 2004

My ex-colleague from Waterstones, Joe has set up a new blog for the SF book club that he runs at the east end branch in Edinburgh. Expect the usual Joe madness along with some book chat.


Nutty! Away!

Books,Edinburgh,Links,News Thursday 9th September 2004

My good pal Alex has recently been promoted within Waterstones to a buying position based in big ol’ London. He moved their yesterday, on the train, more of an advance party I think. He’ll most likely be without any kind of ‘net connection for a while, but has just got a new bling-bling mobile that comes with a ton of free picture messages. Being the enterprising geek that he is he’s going to put those free picture messages to use with the free photo log service provided by He’s already started documenting his adventures including a blow-by-blow account of his delays on the train journey down. Have a look at what will no doubt evolve into an interesting small-ginger-man-in-London photo-blog.


Crap Towns

Books Monday 13th October 2003

 crap towns book cover

Just got this depressingly-funny new book in at work.
Guess what? Billingham is in it! (thats where I’m from). Rated as the 35th worst town in Britain it mentions the Stalinesque architecture of the town centre and the high death rate from heroin addiction. Ahhh, no place like home.


Heres the original article from A slightly different one actually appears in the book.

And, a Billingham resident stands up for the town (why oh why?).


He Emerges!

Books Wednesday 8th October 2003

Rare interview with the mysterious Neal Stephenson: TCS: Tech Central Station


Shiny Books Found At Work

Books Wednesday 3rd September 2003

Germany At War – a fascinating book full of colour photos from the German side of WWII. Very strange to look at, as most photos from the Allied side of the war were still b&w at this time. The Germans on the other hand had slightly more advanced photography and access to colour stock. hrm, I could buy so many books if I had more money…



Books Saturday 2nd August 2003

Charlie Stross popped into work today to have a chat but mainly to sign some copies of his latest sci-fi work Singularity Sky.

Which reminds me of a conversation with one of the regular ‘crazies’ at work. She approaches the desk and everyone else scatters to the farthest recesses of the shop, leaving me to bear the brunt of whatever notion she has dreamt up today. It went something like this:

HER: “Can I ask you a book related question?”

ME: “No, sorry.”

HER: “Do you know anything about books?”

ME: “Nope, not a thing.”

HER: “Then why do you work here?”

ME: “I really don’t know…”

HER: “Do you know where I could ask then?”

ME: *thinks* “You could try the Balmoral hotel, just across the road.” *points*

HER: “Really? ok…” (random nonsense etc as she wanders off)

or was I too harsh? YOU decide…


Bookselling Slave Labour

Books Friday 4th July 2003

“We have over-relied on people’s love of the product, rather than mapping a future career in bookselling…”

damn right!



Harry Potter And The Freakin’ Order Of The Phoenix

Books Sunday 22nd June 2003

Saturday was a fun if extremely tiring day at work, we did nothing but watch the harry stocks and sell harry all day. Plus there was an absolute army of us, basically everyone was working. I started at 8am and it was pretty quiet until about 12 noon when the shiznit hit the fan. Five people at the front till and three at the back and we still had queues (and yes, we’re uber-fast). I’ll let alex provide the photos and details about the midnight opening shenningans (I’m not that kerazy). On saturday we sold out, more than a thousand in less than 24 hours, insane.


Some Books I Bought On Sunday

Books Monday 16th June 2003

stuffed book covercombat zone coveressential milligan cover


Things I Need To Read

Books Sunday 11th May 2003

I Lucifer – Glen Duncan
Cheese Monkeys – Chip Kidd
Microserfs – Douglas Coupland
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Broken Angels – Richard Morgan
More Murakami (although not when feeling depressed)

please add others…


Richard Morgan

Books Sunday 11th May 2003

Big up the Richard Morgan massive. He seems to have finally relented and gotten himself a website:


William Gibson Quits Blogging

Books Sunday 27th April 2003

Well, he said it would happen but I didn’t want to belive him. It was nice to be inside his head for a while, especially as there is not much written about him as a person. Read about it here on his official boards.

I’ve just finished reading Pattern Recognition as well and quite enjoyed it. It is a lot less ‘gritty’ than his previous works, with its basis in modern reality and this does make it very different. He touched on so many areas and left numerous great characters unexplored so I can’t wait for the sequel.


Did you know….

Books Monday 20th January 2003

I just found out that Michael Marshall (of Straw Men fame) is Michael Marshall Smith (dark humour sci-fi man extraordinaire) writing under a different name.


Pattern Recognition

Books Sunday 5th January 2003

Interest seems to be hotting up over the new William Gibson book, Pattern Recognition. It’s published on 24th April in the UK so thats like a 3 month wait, ah well.


Slashdot article (beware, entering geekdom)

Guardian, a brief mention in a ‘what to watch in 2003’ article

Official website, brand spanking new and seems very Gaiman-ish, complete with (un-started) blog, could be interesting,

The mythical ‘sequel’ to Cryptomicon is also published ‘this year’, another one to watch. If it ever appears.


New Gibson Cover

Books Thursday 19th December 2002


Check out the cover of the new William Gibson book, Pattern Recognition. mmmm