Designing to Make a Difference

Photo mural project featuring Red Hook residents

Photo mural project featuring Red Hook residents. Photo by David Al-Ibrahim

When natural disaster impacts a community, it’s not just the physical destruction that takes its toll—the damage to the area’s self-image, pride, sense of place and economic well-being can be long-lasting and particularly hard to rebuild. Design/Relief is a new initiative from AIGA/NY that pairs communication designers and other specialists with the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy to help re-establish a sense of identity through creative place-making. Three teams have been assembled to help the neighborhoods of Red Hook, Brooklyn; the Far Rockaways in Queens; and the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. Li’l Robin is one of the firms chosen to work with residents and small businesses in Red Hook. Our collaborators on the team include the design studio MGMT., the non-profit strategists Amplifier Project, and the communications specialist David Al-Ibrahim. The area is particularly close to our hearts: Li’l Robin founder Anke Stohlmann lives in the adjacent neighborhood of Carroll Gardens and has seen first-hand the effect Sandy has had on the community.

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Inside Publishing’s First Hackathon

Evoke, map view

Character map from Evoke by Jill Axline, Lisa Maione and Jason Pearson

As readers increasingly find their books online rather than in brick-and-mortar bookstores, publishers are looking for digital strategies to introduce people to the books they’ll want to read. The first “Publishing Hackathon” recently brought together innovators from the worlds of publishing, design and technology to conceptualize new ways to connect readers and books—without the bookshelves.

Hackathons have become a tried-and-true approach for the collaborative development of apps and websites, but the Publishing Hackathon was the first time the book industry has officially hosted one of the competitive matchups. Publishing has yet to find the “killer app” that recreates the pleasant surprise of coming across an interesting, unexpected title when browsing a bookstore. Buying anything is now as easy as pushing a button, but with the staggering choice of over 200,000 books published every year, how do readers decide which book is right for them?

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Discovering Digital Books

BookWall: Titles

BookWall by Anke Stohlmann, Jennings Hanna, Rae Milne and Willa Tracosas

Thanks to e-readers, we can now carry entire collections of our favorite titles with us—something that’s especially welcome in the warmer months, when we can dip into a book during an impromptu stop in the park or on a longer sojourn at the beach. But for all their convenience, e-readers aren’t much of help when we’re trying to decide what to read next. In this newsletter, we take a look at the ways designers and publishers are helping readers browse and discover digital books—without judging them by their covers, or flipping through their pages.

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Looking Ahead to Digital Storytelling

Illustration concept: reading on tablet

At the start of every year we like to think about what the next 12 months will bring in publishing and technology, especially given the incredible pace of change. This year our reading may go beyond enhanced e-books to exciting new forms created specifically for the digital space.

Enhanced e-books supplement their narratives with multimedia features like video and audio. As more people do their reading on Internet-connected tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire, enhanced e-books will become a familiar format. And soon readers will be ready to experience e-literature—digital-born works that combine written language, performance, sound and video, games and motion—to create a new kind of storytelling.

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