The blueBook

November 8, 2006

Back in the summer, I visited the Royal College of Art’s 2006 Summer Show (a longer review of which can be found over at Tom Coates’ One project that caught my eye was Manolis Kelaidis’ blueBook project, part of the Industrial Design Engineering strand. Manolis was kind enough to send me some more material relating to the project.


As digital media in the form of portable devices, touch-screens and pervasive wireless networks offer new possibilities for interaction, the traditional book starts to look rather featureless when compared to electronic versions. But the traditional book has many advantages too – not least the comfort of tradition itself. The blueBook aims to find a compromise between these two objects, between the digital and the physical.

The blueBook created at the RCA and pictured here is a traditional book over-printed with conductive ink. This conductive ink creates hyperlinks on the page which, when touched by the reader, activates a processor concealed in the cover of the book. This processor then connects via bluetooth to a nearby computer, triggering different actions.


For example, a children’s book on animals might activate sounds and videos on a screen when the printed picture of the animal is touched. Reference books may contain inline glossaries linked to Wikipedia or Google. Keywords in novels trigger incidental music. Buttons on academic papers connect to discussion forums or send feedback to the author.

Admittedly, most of these tasks are or can be done entirely in software by true ebooks, negating the (currently) high costs of printing in conductive ink and binding circuitry and processors into a physical book. But the blueBook does provide a bridge – for children, for the elderly, for those less comfortable with new technology – to ease the transition from the printed to the digitised book. Such devices are going to be much in demand, and the cost of their production is dropping rapidly.


Manolis has now graduated and is looking into ways to develop and commercialise the book, and tells me he has been talking to major publishers who seem very interested in the idea. He is also working on a tentative business plan for a company that would develop and design such books. However, it looks like that mass-production could take some time so the next stage is likely to be a short-run, specific-application implementation of the technology. We look forward to seeing where this goes.

Nicholas Evans was the blueBook’s graphic designer and it was produced by Book Works. You can see more images in the booktwo Flickr stream. Manolis Kelaidis can be contacted at manokel at


  1. […] also about Kelaidis’s blueBook. When slides and/or video from this conference is posted, […]

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  3. […] Manolis Kelaidis‘ idea is to embed hyperlinks in traditional books, or as the website puts it… […]

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  4. […] dazu bei O’Reilly und BookTwo weitere Artikel […]

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  5. […] out this amazing hybrid creation from Manolis Kelaidis that combines a traditional book over-printed with conductive ink. Manolis […]

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  6. […] More, here: […]

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  7. […] previewed at the Royal College of Art’s 2006 Show. Here’s the science part, from booktwo, which also has more information and pictures: The blueBook created at the RCA and pictured here is […]

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  8. […] Jones brought to my attention that the Bluebook project by Manolis Kelaidis, (a project I had spotted at last year’s RCA show) got the only known standing ovation at […]

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  9. […] The blueBook ( This is such neat stuff. It’s a real book with added bookmarks and a bluetooth interface. Bookmarks can be clicked to trigger actions on something like a PC. This is already a year old, but I’d never seen it before. Really a merge of digital and analog. (tags: electronics books epaper future ssoffice ebook) […]

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  10. […] “printed electronic book” or the past can be enhanced by the very future it contributed to create (quite nice the argument […]

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  13. […] Notebook » The blueBook Manolis spoke this morning, will need to distribute the video of the presentation later. His project integrates books with internet resources without eliminating the paper basis. (tags: books innovation TOC2007) […]

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  15. […] Manolis Kelaidis’ blueBook, 1 November 2007, 6.00pm – 7.30pm […]

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  16. […] Outline of the blueBook project at […]

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  17. […] [via – […]

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  19. […] shows (as well as a bunch of other articles out there that I am now randomly finding, including one from the guy behind bookkake), and we will see these things roll out as they become affordable and marketable. Such is the way […]

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  20. […] Papier”, bei dem Bücher Hyperlinks besitzen können. Das so genannte blueBook , das auf der TOC als Prototyp gezeigt wurde, besitzt eine solche […]

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  21. […] Jump to Comments blueBook é um projeto em que livros são impressos com uma tinta condutora que permite criar links dentro […]

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