In Need of a Great Birthday Present? Think of the Birthday Book!

In our series "What kind of book can I make with PediaPress?", here is our second installment. There is one "book" that comes back again and again in the books that our users make, the Birthday Book. Not a book about Birthdays, no, but a custom book for someone who's dear to you and who you want to surprise with something a bit out of the ordinary (I've found that as we get older, surprising gets more and more difficult). People have gone out of their way to make books that reflect the "Birthday person"'s life, in one way or another.

We've seen different kinds of "Birthday Books". The first one is a book that retraces what happened in the world during someone's life. The editor chooses an event for each year of someone's life and puts all of these events together in a book. Wikipedia makes this rather easy as it provides lists of notable events per year. See for example all that happened the year Wikipedia was born, 2001. Browsing the different years of someone's life, you can choose important events or people to add to your collection and make your custom book. It's a rather nice an interesting way of looking back at the years gone by. I am sure none of us remember the events that happened during our life quite in the same way.

Another idea is to make a book that gathers all the events that happened on the day the person was born. If we stick with Wikipedia, we could gather all the events that happened on January 15th across the years. This would range from the crowning of Elisabeth I in 1559 in Westminster Abbey to the launch of Soyuz 5 by the Soviet Union in 1969 to the landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009. Quite an amazing scope in events.

Last, but not least, there are people who simply put together a book with the topics that interest the Birthday person, or have to do with their life. It is always difficult to buy the right book on the right topic, especially for someone who's interested in a lot of things. Wikipedia provides such a range of articles on every subject that it becomes fun to put together things that have no apparent link to each other except from the fact that they all have a link to one person. My Birthday book would probably gather such disparate subjects as Languages, American cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, Open Source and Photography, Carcassonne and Languedoc Roussillon to cite just a few. So topics range from what the person has studied to the places they were born, they have studied or spent their holidays to their hobbies and professional interests.

In the end, the great thing about Wikipedia and PediaPress in the "birthday context" is that they open a range of infinite possibilities to make a Birthday gift that your friends or family shall never forget, and to which they can go back anytime they want.


Time to Travel! Get Your Holidays Wiki Book

While following up on the books that have been ordered through our PediaPress website, I have been trying to keep a list of the great ideas people have. What are the books that people make for themselves? It's actually very interesting, because depending on the country of origin, the time of the year and Gutenberg knows what other deciding factor, the custom books we see go through our printing press have only one thing in common, they are really "tailored" to the customer. A few days ago, kleinski blogged (in German) about his first book. He put together a book to prepare his journey, starting (or ending, he's not sure yet) in Iceland. As he puts it
"And there's nothing better than to collect the stops on the planned travel route and to take, instead of seven travel guides, just one book - admittedly, not a guide, but full of information."
Winter in our Northern Hemisphere is way too grim not to think about the next holidays. You might know exactly what your next destination will be, or not. It might be around the corner, or halfway across the world, one thing is sure, there's a very good chance that Wikipedia has an article about your planned (or unplanned) destination. And who better than Wikipedia knows how to capture the specificity of a very particular place? Wikipedia offers detailled and knowledgeable information on a place, a country, a monument and... well, also roundabouts! Collecting articles in Wikipedia makes a travel guide of another nature. Imagine going through the Parisian metro and taking a peek at the ghost metro stations. Imagine visiting Metropolis, Illinois, while reading up on Metropolis, the fictional city. And walking across the "Morne plaine" of Waterloo, with the ability to recreate every one of Napoleon's moves does make the trip more exciting.
So start today, collect your articles with the book creator, and make your holiday trip unforgettable, by making sure you don't miss out on anything there is to see. Collect articles about a country, a region, or even a single city and its monuments. Whether for a three weeks holiday of for a week-end, you'll find all the info you need (and more) on Wikipedia. Make a book, get it printed , read it in the metro, the plane or in the warmth of your bed. And while you're at it, when you're there for real, be sure to take pictures to post on Wikipedia, so that the next traveller gets an even better feel for the journey.
So much for the Holidays Book, it's one of many ideas that I'll share with you in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Photo: Waterloo, Belgium, Lions' Hillock © Jean-Pol GRANDMONT , licence CC-BY-SA - Source: Wikimedia Commons