Places & Spaces My Library

The Book of Everyone – Giveaway

February 27, 2014
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Printing bespoke digital books of photographs, drawings, poems and other artistic endeavours is nothing new and has been around for years. So, it was just a matter of time until someone would spot a gap in the market and take this to another level. Let me introduce you to The Book of Everyone.

The Book of Everyone - Colourliving

Founders Jason Bramley, Jonny Biggins and Steve Hanson did exactly that. They took the idea of building a website selling personalised books a step further and came up with the idea to combine randomly generated trivia with fun and engaging artworks from some leading illustrators. So far, so good.

I had to immediately try it out for myself and was pleasantly surprised and amused at what I saw. You simply key in a few details about the recipient of your book (name, age, date of birth) and with a bit of magic, the website generates 50 pages of various trivia and stats and a whole heap of fantastic illustrations. The stats are generated using a custom database that contains more than 130,000 scenarios. Some pages can be edited to further customise the end product and the whole process is rather fun. You’ll find pages on ‘the cost of things in your day’, ‘top films’, ‘inventions that year’ and so much more.

Intrigued by the concept I contacted Jonny, one of the founders and CEO, went to meet him in their west London offices and asked a few questions.

Meet Jonny Biggins.

The Book of Everyone - Jonny Biggins - Colourliving

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you 3 meet and what led you to team up forces to create a business? Jason and I were a creative team in our previous life – the one before The Book of Everyone. We worked in advertising agencies in London, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and Spain. In 2003 we began working with Steve in Barcelona. We’ve all had pretty successful careers that in a moment of calculated madness we gave up to pursue a dream, a dream of having our own creative led business that produced something a little more meaningful than an ad for nappies or washing powder.

Once you decided to team up, did you already have an idea for the business in mind? If not, what was the process to get to the idea?  A few years ago I became a father and Steve told the story of how he had gone out and bought all the newspapers on the day that his son Saul was born as a memento for him to enjoy when he was older. This got us all wondering how we could create a technology platform that could make a beautiful personalised book around anyone in a few seconds. Something out of the digital world that could be treasured and held in both hands. The idea took shape from there.

The Book of Everyone - Jean Jullien - Colourliving
Jean Jullien (one of my favourite illustrators) chose the fact that the word ‘Eco-terrorist’ was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1980.

What gets you excited in life. What gets you out of bed in the morning? It’s the joy of creating a business from scratch, a blank canvas. It’s rather like having a child; it keeps you up at night, requires all your attention but at the same time fills your life with meaning. We’ve all worked for big multinationals corporations and now we’re working for this tiny company that we’ve created. It’s both frightening and very exciting.

Books. Printed Books. Digital Books. What’s your relationship with them? We all love the aroma of an old book; those grassy notes, the muskiness, that hint of vanilla – No matter how practical your kindle, it just can’t hit all the senses like a book.  It was important that The Book of Everyone felt great – velvet laminate covers and silk-coated paper.

The Book of Everyone - Djego Ghirado - Colourliving
Diego Ghirado ‘See your name in the limelight’

The Book of Everyone - Sebastian Sattler - Colourliving
Sebastian Sattler ‘an amazing age to be’

In your own words, what is the Book of Everyone all about? It’s about you, the world you were born into and your relationship to the person who made it for you. Each book is a beautifully designed celebration of the individual.

I love the combination of the randomly generated trivia with artwork from highly talented illustrators. Was that hard to co-ordinate? It’s been a monumental task that requires a certain insanity and obsession; stacks of trivia books in the bathroom with little post-it notes sticking out of them, knowing that Tolstoy had his first driving lesson at 67 or the fact that earmuffs were invented by a 13 year old. Yes we’ve bored a few people at dinner parties.  Along the way though, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with an unbelievably talented team of writers and artists from all over the world and a couple of wizard developers who built the platform.

The Book of Everyone - Jag Nagra - Colourliving
Jag Nagra ‘who’s your superhero alter ego?’

The Book of Everyone - Colourliving
Pablo Ricciardulli ‘I like you more than…’ Fill in your own words.

You only launched a few weeks ago. You went straight for the Design world. What’s the response been like? It’s been wonderful, plus new artists and writers are coming forward to contribute to keep the database assets growing and evolving. Our customers seem to love the product – it sounds cheesy but on the weekend a customer posted a photo of his girlfriend shedding a tear on receiving her book.

How do you see the product developing. More editable pages, more trivia and different illustrations? We want to keep it simple  – you can spend as little or as long as you want to make beautiful personalised book around someone you care about. But at the same time the book needs to constantly evolve as new written entries and artwork are added to ensure the differences between each book continues to grow and we can offer a more personalised story.

Can you see a highly tailor-made version, where people commission special pages from your list of recommended illustrators? Or a version for kids? What we’ve built is a customisable asset platform. At the moment we are directing it to build a beautiful 50-page book around someone. In the near future we will produce a baby book for new births, an anniversary book around two people and personalised cards based around a particular illustrator or interest.

The Book of Everyone - Colourliving
Your world of art in 1963 (Steve Hanson’s painting trousers)

The Book of Everyone - Colourliving
Patrick Bras ‘top telly’ in 1963

If you had a crystal ball and could see 5 years ahead, where would your business be? The content management system that feeds the bookmaker is built to allow for cultural and linguistic differences so we can tailor the content to different counties. Our mission was always to make the world feel good one book at a time, so in 5 years I’d have less hair and a few more wrinkles but be happily doing just that.

The Book of Everyone - Colourliving
Your 1963 Blockbuster Movie

Thank you Jonny for your time. I have no doubt The Book of Everyone will be a great success. Jonny has kindly offered to further help me celebrate #tinasjubilee by giving away the following:

1. First winner will receive a hardback version (includes a free digital version)
2. Second winner will receive a paperback version (includes a free digital version)
3. Third winner will receive a digital version

Leave a comment here telling us WHO? and WHY? would be the recipient of your book (should you be a lucky winner). For extra POINTS to win, go to The Book of Everyone, put in the details of someone you care about and tell us what your favourite page is and why?

The giveaway is open worldwide and will end at 6pm GMT on Friday 7th March 2014 where 3 lucky winners will be randomly chosen. Good Luck everyone!

@BookOfEveryone

Thank you everyone for entering. The winners have been chosen. Congratulations to:

1. Louise from 30s magazine – you won the hardback version!2. Aakash Pattni – you won the paperback version!
3. Catherine of Farmhousehome – you won the digital version!

I will be emailing you all with further details…. hope this brings a smile to you on a Monday afternoon!

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24 Comments

  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine February 27, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    This is brilliant! Love it!

  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine February 27, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I would love to win one for myself because I love illustration books, and this would be a perfect addition to my pile of books on my coffee table

  • Reply Aakash Pattni February 27, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Love the idea! As much as I want one for myself, a book of everyone would be perfect for my sister! She is a graphics designer by background and I know she will appreciate it, perhaps use it for inspiration 🙂 (plus I owe her a cheeky late birthday present)

  • Reply Hil February 28, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I’d like one for Anthony – he and I have run a design studio for 35 years after meeting at art school in the 70s. Next month will be a massive change of pace for us as we move from our physical studio to work remotely, and this book would be a perfect marker of an end and a beginning. Plus I’m sure he’d like to know how much a garden gnome cost in 1953.

  • Reply Carole Poirot February 28, 2014 at 8:33 am

    What a fun and fab idea! The images here already make me giggle (especially the Superhero-ology) and I can imagine a book like this to be an endless source of smiles on a rainy day.

    Who should win? Well, moi, of course 😉 Why? Erm, because it’d be fun to have a whole host of random facts all in a book and the design element is fab.

    Ok, again: Why? Because I’m clearly totally full of myself – even if that’s not really a good enough reason 😉

    xo

  • Reply Igor February 28, 2014 at 8:47 am

    What a fun & new idea – finally something that stands out from the masses of bespoke digital publications. Well I would make one for Philippe because he loves illustrations and deserves all kind of presents:-)

  • Reply Giova Brusa February 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Love books, and loved the interview!!
    And the book would be for me, I’m just selfish like that! Why? Because I love books, I hope that is a good answer 😉 Did I say I love books?
    LOVE!!

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey February 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Not sure if I think this is cool or kitsch. Just created a book for my partner David and it’s all a bit random. I guess that’s the point though. Interesting pages include fashion, world leaders & TV shows. Personally I see this as one of those novelty gifts… all a bit of harmless fun.

    I enjoyed the interview.

    Thanks for sharing xx

  • Reply Alison Sye February 28, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Wow this is brilliant – I love it. Not sure if I love anyone more than Breaking Bad, though (hehe!). And I would like to see a line drawn down the middle of the T.V. on the Steptoe and Son one. It would represent the episode when they drew a line down the middle of the room because they had fallen out, as usual. They were not allowed onto the other person’s side, and the line went through the middle of the telly (one for the nerds – me!)
    If I won, the book would go to my friend Sarah. She is always giving gifts to others, but never buys anything for herself. She would love it.
    Alison

  • Reply John Lamano March 1, 2014 at 5:06 am

    I love illustration books so I want to win this for myself.

  • Reply Lena March 1, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! I’d give it to my little brother who will turn 25 next month, loves art and illustrations and is a person who gives a lot and deserves to receive. I just created one for him to try it out and I think I liked the page that showed his personalised symbol most – just because I think it’s a great idea.

  • Reply Catherine@farmhousehome March 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    What a great idea, it will be a huge success as it’s so personal. A friend told me years ago when friends had a baby they always gave them a copy of the newspaper for the day they were born so they could see the news of the day when they’re older and what was happening in the world.

    I’d make one for Emma as she’s turning 21 this April and that’d be a significant birthday to give her one of these books. xx

  • Reply Emily Cargile March 3, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I would love to have this for myself or my husband. Why? I love this idea, I have never seen anything quite like it. I know my husband would like it too.

  • Reply Bonnie Erika March 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

    To be honest I would keep it for myself, as a gift to myself because why not? I love illustrations and graphic design and this seems like a cool little book I would love to receive.. from myself 🙂

  • Reply the joy of watercolours » colourliving colourliving March 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    […] over at Armoire, Pegs and Casserole. Thank you Mel for having me! Also don’t forget that the Book of Everyone giveaway is still open till […]

  • Reply Thoufiq March 3, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    This would be the best gift I can give myself in this 25 years of my life!

  • Reply Laura Alboiu March 4, 2014 at 9:48 am

    WHO? – well, my sweety Claudiu …
    WHY? – because it’s been 8 years since we decided to give love a chance and I love him more than I ever imagined loving someone after all this time … everyone said love doesn’t last so that is what I expected, not this overwhelming feeling to hug the daylights out of him all the time, and the constant urge to make sure he knows you love him. The safety and calm and empowering knowledge that he loves you and has your back in any situation is better than the best chocolate.
    My favourite page is the first one, just after the cover, because it sums up the most important and special information: the person who wrote it, is addressed directly to my sweety, and has a message I often say to him: “It’s an outrage. No one has written a book about you yet.”
    I’m so glad I discovered the Book of Everyone and I sure hope I win the giveaway. 🙂

  • Reply Verena S. March 4, 2014 at 11:31 am

    This would be the perfect gift for my mom! She has the golden 50 coming. 😀

  • Reply vaishnavi March 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    WHO? I would love to get this for my friend Vani.
    WHY? She’s been my support system,through thick and thin, and this would be the perfect gift for her next birthday!

  • Reply Amanda Hardesty March 5, 2014 at 4:51 am

    I would do this for my grandmother because she would get a kick out of it

  • Reply Doris March 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    This is fantastic! What a great idea it would be as a present as it’s so individual, creative and thoughtful! If I won, I would make one for my son and give it to him on his 18th birthday. Hopefully he would appreciate the thought, design and creativity of it by then. xD

  • Reply Jessica Whitehouse March 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I think this would be a fun gift for my husband… he doesn’t believe in birthdays and never wants any gifts. I think he night actually smile over this.

  • Reply Holly March 9, 2014 at 11:13 am

    This is soooooooooooo cool!! I just spent way too much time on the site LOL. I hope by Pauli’s 30th this year they’ll have the option to choose a country of birth too. OMG. This is just too much fun. Did you get one?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this Tina and for introducing us to the wonderful minds behind the idea 😀

    Xx.

  • Reply Moederdag cadeau: The book of mom - April 29, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    […] Ook wij struinen het internet af naar de leukste ideeën. Een aantal dagen geleden las ik een Brits artikel over the Book of Mom. Een cadeau dat weer eens iets anders is dan de standaard parfum of ketting. […]

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