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Journeys are linear, chronological things. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. Books are exactly the same. It’s a perfect fit. Start at the start. Keep going till you get to the end. And this is one of the reasons why so many travel books are very boring. Because what actually strikes me out on the road is how cyclical life is. Even more than back in the routine real world that I sneer at, life on the road is a circle of repeating routines.

Great expeditions are nothing more than a series of mundane single days, sprinkled with occasional bursts of terror or joy. Too many travel books ignore this, at their cost.

“I got up and I walked very far… I slept in a field. I got up and I walked very far… I slept in a field. I got up and I walked very far… I slept in a field. I got up and I walked very far… I slept in a field. I got up and I walked very far… I slept in a field…. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

So I wanted to try to find a way to tell this story differently. I decided to write the entire book as though it was one day, one cycle. But I really wanted to find a non-linear way to tell the tale.

And I found it. I am so excited about the Foldedsheet “mappazine” version of my book.

Bear with me while I explain myself: Imagine a map. The huge, fold out, Ordnance Survey hiking maps. Open it right out and it’s as wide as you can stretch your arms. You can’t absorb it all at once (unless it’s laid out on the floor and you’re drinking tea and dreaming of adventure). So you unfold it bit by bit, section by section. Once you get the hang of it you can turn it round, flip it over, rotate it and yet still have an idea of how the point you are looking at fits in to the whole.

…Still with me..?

I took my book and distilled it down to about 9000 words. The more you delete the better a book gets. I picked about a hundred photos to tell the tale. And I told my tale across the “map”.

You can explore it how you wish. You can dip in and out. It’s up to you. It’s even got two totally different front covers depending on which way you pick it up.

One side of my “map” covers a single day on the road, from dawn until night. It’s all you really need to know about my adventures for all I do is repeat that cycle over and over…

The other side of the “map” explores my motivation for taking on these sorts of journeys: challenge, solitude, fun, curiosity…

This is the most excited I have been about the potential of a new project since I self-published my first book five years ago. I really believe you’ll agree this Foldedsheet is worth a fiver. (I’ll happily refund you if you don’t.) Better still, buy 10 and give them to everyone in your office. Buy 20 for every kid in your child’s class. Buy 100 for delegates at your next event. If I’ve piqued your curiosity you can have a preview of the look here, or watch this 25 second video.

I like this project so much that I really want to ship a lot of copies of it. That is why I have offered serious reductions for purchasing multiple copies. It’s a project I am really proud of and I want to spread it wide.

Buy your “mappazine” here, for just £5. Worldwide delivery.

What do you think? Did I explain it sufficiently? Do you think it sounds interesting or will you prefer a normal book? Please do have your say in the comments.

There Are Other Rivers - map representation

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  1. That’s awesome Al!

  2. Really cool idea. I find this really fascinating. Though I do love my Kindle, I can imagine pulling out a Mapazine at my local Starbucks and getting a lot of interest on what is going on. It’s almost more than a book, like a giant business card for your story.

  3. I love this idea, so much so that i’m going to try making one myself of my favourite hill day but made up of lots of good hill days I’ve done.
    Have ordered one and can’t wait to get it!

  4. Martha Solomon Posted

    I ordered one of these from you a little while back and God, it’s cool! When else are you engulfed by your reading material? Plus loads of color photos. I think this is a very successful idea.

    I also like that you’ve explored the same trip in different media. Congrats!

  5. Ruth Alexander Posted

    I love good design – I’ll have one please! Travel books are very boring. I take a blank journal with me, loads of pencils and make my own with something similar to your mappazine at the end of the journey.
    As a kid, Mr. Din, our local newsagent used to let me peruse the latest National Geographic. If I was very careful with the folding, he let me open out the map inserts. My parents could not afford such a luxury!
    Your mappazine took me right back to Mr. Dins papershop. and the thrill of a map insert!

  6. Yes travel book are horribly boring! I’m glad someone figured out a way to avoid this :))

  7. Looks like a really nice idea! I am always worried about falling into the trap of boring chronological books and blogs, might give something like this a go next time!

    That said, I do like all the tiny nerdy details you get in some of those old-fashioned chronological books like Robin K-J’s “World of my own”. Maybe you need both!



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