Facts Made Fun

As entries on the Wikipedia website soar over the one billion mark, it’s difficult to see how the humble old printed encyclopaedia can possibly compete. A new book from Dorling Kindersley publishers, Pick Me Up, offers a solution: make facts fun.


As its title suggests, the book is based around interactivity, and rather than following an alphabetical order, the contents are randomly organised, with each page featuring “hyperlinks” to other subjects, allowing readers to forge their own path through the book. And it even encourages its readers to think up facts about themselves, with pages that just ask questions, such as “Remember your best birthday present?”

“We wanted to apply a more realistic order for how people think,” explains John Brown’s Jeremy Leslie, creative director on the project. “It works like the internet, but it’s also how your brain works – your conversation goes all over the place but the connections are absolutely sensible. It has the same info you’d find in a regular encyclopaedia but it’s expressed in a more natural way.”

John Brown is well known for magazine publishing, and it was this expertise that drew Dorling Kindersley to contact Leslie and editor David Roberts to work on the project. “Historically Dorling Kindersley have a strong range of information and fact books for kids and adults, particularly the Eyewitness range that have been very much copied,” continues Leslie. “They are looking to reinvent themselves, and came to us because they liked what we are doing with magazines.”

Leslie invited a team of designers, led by art director Ian Pierce, to work on the book, with the express intention that there should be no formal structure to the design. “We had no grid, no preconceived idea of how each bit would look and let them off the leash basically,” he explains. This unconventional approach meant that the book feels fresh and exciting, and in design at least seems more akin to a magazine than a book. Part of this impact is due to the wide range of illustrators who contribute to it, including Eboy (who also did the cover illustration), Adam Hayes and Serge Seidlitz.

Despite its irreverent look, the book is underpinned with key facts, alongside popular culture references to current brands, musicians and books, all written in an accessible and witty style. And for those who just want to find out something quickly, it also includes a traditional index.

Pick Me Up is published by Dorling Kindersley at £19.99.


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