A star is born. One of the most popular new products at the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association annual meeting and trade show in Denver a little over a week ago was a stylish and clever environmentally friendly book bag called Bag-along: made of reclaimed fabrics, it both reuses old materials and saves on plastic and paper bags.
Produced by local company Colorado Creative Concepts, the Bag-along when closed measures about 5½"×5¼", handy for stuffing in a shoulder bag, purse or glove compartment. Unzipped, the exterior transforms into the bottom of a hidden nylon bag, which opens to 11"×5"×16", large enough to carry several hardcovers, even a coffee table book or two (no chiropractor included, however). The standard bag uses an attractive, tapestry-like fabric; novelty and promotional versions are available, too. The company also offers colorful tapestry book covers with attached satin bookmarks in two sizes, fabric business or credit card holders, and the HeadTog, a one-size-fits-all alternative to the generic baseball cap.
Bag-alongs were recently spotted at the Denver Public Library, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Art Museum and the Colorado History Museum. To get your own, call 303-989-2754, fax: 303-274-2703, www.bagalong.com.
At last, a way to keep really good track of all your stuff. The Little Bookroom in New York City has created an elegant and wryly amusing Collector's Journal, designed to help collectors of all levels and interests organize information pertaining to their antiques and collectibles., The Collector's Journal is a beautifully designed mix of catalogue, address book, and insurance inventory as well as chronicle of the hunt, appropriate for Sotheby's or eBay, connoisseurs or packrats. For each of 36 objects, three pages provide space to record such vital statistics as date of acquisition, price, appraisal and insurance value, and value criteria such as authenticity, rarity, condition, historical significance and provenance. There's room for descriptions and photographs and contact information for dealers, auction houses, appraisers, restorers, art and antique fairs, and other collectors. Author Dana Micucci decorates the blank pages with pertinent quotes on the pastime of appreciation from famous collectors, connoisseurs and artists. Listings of major American museums and highlights of each collection appear at the back of the journal—for inspiration? This tastefully appointed tome cleverly fills a new journal niche. Call (212) 691-3321, fax (212) 691-2011, e-mail email@example.com.
More artistry of the do-it-yourself variety. Perfectly timed for the holidays, but sure to be a source of fun all year long, Klutz presents Handmade Cards: Simple Designs for Beautiful Cards. A truly exceptional activity kit in both clarity of instruction and quality of materials, Handmade Cards combines a full-color, photographic instruction book with a keepsake portfolio storage box full of card-making supplies, including a generous variety of bright, distinctive papers. Ranging from whimsical to elegant, all of the designs are simple to make but impressive in result. Got scissors and glue? For ages 14 and up.
The younger set, ages six and up, can get down and sticky with Klutz's new Stuff to Do with Candy. Just awarded the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, Stuff explains how to make edible buckets of worms, peanut butter and jelly pizza, candy leis, gumdrop guys, cocoa spoons, candy wreaths, apple people, chocolate houses, and marzipan fruit, plus recipes for fun corn, truffles and mint mountains. You can play games with your candy too—just follow the directions on the back of the book—or make elegant marzipan fruit and present it in a handmade gift box (that's also a card). Call (650) 857-0443, fax (800) 524-4075.
It's never too early for stocking stuffers. Quirky and kinetic products from Eye Think, Inc., in Boston, add new dimension to optical toys. Designed by artist Rufus Butler Seder, these "animated" greeting cards, rulers, suncatchers, and even nightlights are elegant little movie machines based on an application of optical principles. Sounds complicated, looks cool: eyes blink, animals leap, people dance. Call/fax (781) 648-6125, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
More wizardry is at hand from Optical Toys in Dummerston, Vt. Known for fabulous flip books and playthings utilizing vintage cinematic and print visuals, Optical Toys adds paper automatons to its lineup.
From Saul Steinberg-esque cats and dogs to players of football, tennis and golf, these kits come complete with materials and instructions. Japanese paper sculpture artist Keisuke Saka's Mechanimals include a Dreaming Penguin, flapping wings to fly; Swan Leg Ballet, demonstrating how swans swim; and Toucan Tango, a dancing (and singing) Toucan. Perfect desktop amusements to enliven the dullest, grayest winter.
The latest mega-flipbook, Earth Zoom to Washington, D.C., is 5"×5½", 212 pages of full-color, NASA-eye views zooming in from space to the U.S. Capitol building. Includes background and historical text on the technology involved, as well as Web links to related NASA sites. Call/fax (802) 254-6115, e-mail email@example.com, www.opticaltoys.com.
The arrival of these sidelines gives booksellers a good jump on the holiday season.