Thursday, October 18, 2012

To Be a Bookmark or Not to Be a Bookmark? That is the Question.

Technology can do some pretty crazy things. It can allow you to see a friend who lives halfway across the world. It can transform your spoken words to written text. It can help you park your car. It can even print an entire book onto a single bookmark.

The aptly named Hamlet Bookmark is  According to Tim Maly over at, this brainchild of cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and illustrator Katie Sekelsky (inspired by a t-shirt, no less!) uses new technology to remake an old practice:

The Hamlet Bookmark

Isn’t technology wonderful? There was a time when printing text meant painstakingly assembling words letter by letter. Type foundries were so named because they literally forged fonts in steel, and for print shops, offering a new font meant incurring a major capital expense.

Thanks to advances in printing technology, artists and designers have the flexibility to create printed works of exceptional variety and detail, enabling an explosion in craft and quality that opens up new horizons of printed expression. Like making a bookmark that is also a book.

Conceived by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith in collaboration with designer Katie Sekelsky, the Hamlet Bookmark is the physical instantiation of a joke. “We had a shirt/joke that went ‘I’m so bookish, my bookmarks are smaller books,’” says Weinersmith, “These are sort of a realization of that idea.”

In deciding to actually make a bookmark that is also a book, Weinersmith and Sekelsky turned a joke into a design brief. They needed “something that was (a) a classic, (b) short enough to fit on a bookmark, and (c) contained a succinct memorable quote,” says Weinersmith. “Hamlet fit the bill nicely.”

“It came together pretty easily,” says Sekelsky, “It was more just a matter of finding a font that is at least recognizable as text when printed so small.” Sekelsky says the biggest problem was hardware-related. She created the bookmarks on an older computer, with inadequate RAM. “The ‘hardest’ part (i.e., ‘the boring part’) was just waiting for all of the text to re-render every time I made an adjustment to the type.”

At the risk of over-thinking the project entirely, there’s something very cool about seeing the collision of two kinds of book technology. The first books were scrolls (a tradition carried on today in sacred texts like the Torah); in time, the codex supplanted the scroll to the point that most people think of books as being synonymous with bound pages. With the Hamlet Bookmark, a scroll is relegated to being asked to mark your place in the codex.

Ironically, the same digital tech that made the Hamlet Bookmark possible is changing our conception of books again, as we watch texts become transmogrified into variably formatted e-books and scrolling webpages.

For you font junkies, the duo used 1.29pt Hoefler Text. At 1.29pt, Weinersmith says, you can make out names like Bernardo and Hamlet with the naked eye and read the whole thing with a 10x magnifying glass.

“Our assumption is that people are doing this for the charm of having the whole thing right there, rather than for convenience.”

Read the original post HERE

Pretty cool, if you ask me. Though I'm not entirely convinced that the entire text of Hamlet is on there--seems impossible! 

But I guess that's the thing about technology...

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