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November 2, 2009

Revolver Books
Posted by Teresa at 07:19 PM * 36 comments

This one’s for Abi, but that doesn’t mean it’s only for Abi.

I was browsing some gift shop canvas booths at Madison Square, and met the people who invented Revolver bound books. You know that old-timey toy called a Jacob’s Ladder that’s made out of flat square blocks laced together with fabric tapes? Revolver books are made like that, except that there are only two blocks, and the “tapes” form the book cover.

Here’s their site. Look at the pictures. Watch the video. It’s a better way to understand the concept.

The inventors describe it as “a binding technique that allows the journal to turn inside out and back again around a floating spine.” I say it’s a way for a book to have two front sections, so you don’t have to choose whether your to-do list or your notes on your novel belongs in front, or your lined as opposed to your unlined paper. It also means your book can have two different covers.

I love this because, like mimeography, chimney-style fire starters, or the magic loop trick for knitting two socks at once, it’s a recent technology that could have been invented any time in the last millennium or so.

Comments on Revolver Books:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 07:25 PM:

At first sight I thought it either contained the words and music to the Beatles album or was a new imprint started by Sir Paul.

#2 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 08:02 PM:

See also: tetraflexagons. Not quite the same thing, but some similarities.

#3 ::: Deb Geisler ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Those are amazingly cool...and perfect for those times in one's life when circumstance turns one inside out.

#4 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 10:02 PM:

The difficulty I have with Jacob's Ladders is that I feel compelled to TAKE THEM APART AND SEE HOW THEY WORK and then of course I can't ever put them back together again.

One of these books would have a life expectancy of approximately five minutes in my hands - and that long only because the one in the video is almost too beautiful to disassemble and analyze.



#5 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 11:23 PM:

I've seen that binding trick used for videogames. I have before me a compendium of two CRPGs (Planescape Torment and another one that nobody remembers) which has two front covers on the outside, and detailed descriptions of each game on the two insides.

If you rotate the trick 90 degrees, you get the basis of the Rubik's Magic toy/puzzle.

#6 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 11:53 PM:


#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 12:04 AM:

I'd be afraid that I might reverse it too many times and end up with backwards writing, or anti-paper that blows a howling purple vortex in the fabric of the space-time continuum.

#8 ::: truth is life ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 12:13 AM:

Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to watch the video, even after I carefully make sure to let noscript run things from that site. Anyone else using Ubuntu 9.10? Can you see it?

#9 ::: Cass Rogers ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 12:32 AM:

The Babble-dot-com link keeps redirecting me to Babble-dot-com-dot-au, which seems to be a parenting website sponsored by Claratyne. All methods of opening the link (right-click new, copy-paste, scroll button click, etc) take me there. Any help?

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 01:04 AM:

Thanks for that, Teresa! Now I'll have to do some experimenting to figure out how that works. After I finish the (damn) commission I've been working on for a month, failing repeatedly in technique after technique...

Here is a square quatragon book.

My favorite bookbinding video right now is The Complex of All of These. Almost makes me want to do edition work.

#11 ::: Trevor ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Just bought two for presents for Xmas. Too cool!

#12 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 03:55 AM:

Whimper. Pretty. So cool. Huzzah for Revolver Books.

Abi @ #10: Sprint (the cell service provider) used the square quatragon format for one of its promotional mailings awhile back. Huh...quite awhile back -- there's a 2005 copyright notice on it. Most direct mail ends up in my recycling box. Some ends up in my "good example/bad example" files. This one earned a spot on top of my supplies bureau 'cause the design is just that clever.

#13 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 08:39 AM:

Abi @ 10:
I was amused at how many of the processes show in "The Complex of All of These" I recognized the instant they were show because I have diligently dilettantly tried my hand at them over the years (including the mass finger amputation device), with the notable exception of your specialty.

#14 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 08:53 AM:

That is pretty neat. How durable are they?

#15 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 09:41 AM:

Truth is life @8 I'm on Kubuntu 9.10, running Opera and I had no problem with the video.

These are very cool, but I'm not allowed to buy new blank books until I use the ones I've got.

#16 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 09:45 AM:

Now I'm imagining Hill House editions of the old Daw Doubles.

(and oh, drat, it looks like Hill House is no more)

#17 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 10:26 AM:

OOOOH. Christmas present! For several people, including myself...Ooooh....

Yes, I do. Have many, many pretty blank books. I go to an annual conference where they hand out pretty spiral bound books with pretty logos. You're supposed to write conference notes on them. Pfft. I take a regular writing tablet -- last time I just took my Aspire One -- and keep the pretty notebooks for other more interesting things.

I miss Kate's Paperie. That's the place I learned that other people share my obsession.

#18 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 10:52 AM:

OK, Teresa, you've stumped me. Given that circular needles seem to have been invented sometime in the early 1900s, how could magic loop have been done a millennium ago? You can't magic loop on dpns or straights.

You could work both socks at the same time on dpns, though I'd think it unwieldy. Still, I think magic loop's unwieldy, too, so I'm not the person to ask. :)

#19 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Are they fountain-pen friendly? I MUST KNOW!

Teresa, you are a wicked, wicked, wonderful woman.

#20 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 12:15 PM:

I say it’s a way for a book to have two front sections, so you don’t have to choose whether your to-do list or your notes on your novel belongs in front, or your lined as opposed to your unlined paper. It also means your book can have two different covers.

From the video, it seems that the book can have three different covers - black, red and green in the vid. No?

#21 ::: RevolveR ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 12:25 PM:

Velma- Brian at was one of the first to feature the Revolver journal. He published a fairly thorough fountain pen analysis which you can check out here-
Thanks to all for your interest in RevolveR. They make great gifts, are durable, and the whole 'howling purple vortex in the fabric of the space-time continuum' is way over stated. It happened only once, it was actually lavender and not a lot of people really noticed it. Revolver Bound Books and Journals-The tool for the dual.

#22 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 01:05 PM:

@Revolver: You just had to link that site. Now I am going to spend all day reading reviews versus getting work done. Thanks.

#23 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 01:17 PM:

It's like an origami Möbius strip. Seriously cool.

#24 ::: Sherry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Teresa, do you know about the cast-on that Cat Bordhi uses in her brand-new Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters book?

It's basically a toe-up whirlpool toe. Since you can't start from nothing, you cast on 6 stitches (3 for each side). Then knit one round holding the tail end along with the working yarn. Next round, knit each loop as a separate stitch, which doubles your stitch count instantly and gives a more reasonable 12 stitches from which to begin whirlpool increases. Genius! Can't think why I'd never seen it before.

#25 ::: Janice ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 01:42 PM:

I have an embroidered needlebook that is constructed in a very similar way--I took a class from Carolyn Standing Webb to learn how to do it. It was really humorous to see a room of 20 grown women, all of us tacking down ribbons to bits of cardboard and fabric, wishing for a third hand, cursing gently to ourselves, as we tried to get it all to line up--and then the crows of success as each of our little books finally became functional.

Really nifty find!

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Carrie S, you can work two socks at once on double points. Schoolhouse Press has instructions for it, as 'Anna Makarovna's Secret Stockings'. (You start and end them separately, though.)

#27 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 02:33 PM:

I had to look at it twice. In the video, they're demoing each of their 4 models, with very brief cuts in between; each one book has 2 covers, not 3 or 4, or an infinite number of covers.

The infinite number of covers will be available in their Borges model, out next year. (However, all the pages will have only a single side, making it impossible to read back-to-front or turn back to an already read page, much like life.)

#28 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 03:00 PM:

PJ Evans: Yes, but you can't magic loop; that requires the flexible cable.

#29 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 11:18 PM:

Oh, dear. Those are amazingly fabulous and shiny objects of desirability.

#30 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 11:54 PM:

"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's,"

#31 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 01:46 AM:

Mary Dell (#16) "it looks like Hill House is no more."

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.

Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

First and last paragraphs of The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

#32 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 10:32 AM:

I can tell that I'm going to succumb, and I've been so good about getting rid of most of the unused blank books on my shelf. Ah, well.

#33 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Clifton @ 27:

Yes, a couple of those transitions were close enough to be almost invisible; I had to look very closely to convince myself there were multiple books, each with only 2 covers.

That being said, I can't visualize the design well enough to say for sure that more than 2 covers isn't possible. I would like it to be possible; I really like the idea of a commonplace book with multiple sections for different topics, each with its own cover.

#34 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2009, 03:38 PM:

Well, I ordered two, one for Soren and one for me, and Soren's arrived today. It looks to be college-ruled, and I am lusting after mine in an unseemly manner. The cover is a pleasant texture, and the large book is a nice size -- I may have to get one of my own, as well as the small one.

#35 ::: Cadbury Moose sights comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 02:55 PM:

Could someone drop a hungry orca on club penguin, please?

(or at least delete their link)


#36 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 04:52 PM:

I got massive cool credit for selecting this as a present for a friend this Christmas! Thank you Making Light!

/end cheesy commercial voice

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