Amazon works in many magical ways, most of them seemingly confined to a shrouded metaphoric cave of wonders. And so it is with its weirdly semi-secret holiday weekend trove of Lightning Deals.
We know the days that several of our best-loved books will be on massive discount this Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 25-26, as part of their Lightning Deals initiative. We just don’t know what time.
Here’s a rundown of titles and the days on which they’ll be promoted. Divining the specific four-hour Window of Deep Discount is up to you to figure out!
When Make: contributor David Lang lost his desk job, he realized that he actually didn’t know how to do anything with his hands except type. He set out to rectify that situation, using his newfound unemployed free time to dive headfirst into the opportunities and challenges of the maker movement. Not only did he learn to solder and prototype, work with PLA and use a breadboard, he co-founded a company and became a passionate advocate for citizen science. This second edition of David’s autobiographical journey was just released, updated to reflect the changing nature of the maker movement and the new opportunities it affords.
Dr. AnnMarie Thomas poses the question: What makes a maker? and sets out to answer it through a number of fascinating interviews with famous creatives who have been lucky enough to spend their adulthood messing around and tinkering in the name of scientific inquiry. Turns out that the answer to Dr. Thomas’ question is easy: childhood. The type of upbringing you’re allowed to have helps to shape the inquisitive arc that distinguishes inventors, tinkerers, visionaries, and makers. Most of the professionals introduced in Thomas’ book were allowed to set things on fire, open them up, take them apart, and just generally indulge their emerging intellect when they were probably too young to use matches and saws, or hammers and pliers. Perhaps your own children should be encouraged to do the same.
Named for the Italian bar in which it was invented, the Arduino is different because it was created by artists to add kinesis to sculpture and then adapted by techies — not the other way around. Written by Arduino project co-founders Massimo Banzi and Michael Shiloh, this is the seminal starting book for learning to use this immensely popular and insanely inexpensive microcontroller. This third edition includes all the new stuff you need to know to get up and running soon, and start exploring and measuring the world. Plus, of course, making sculpture move.
When Randall E. Barrett first published this book in the 1960s, it was possible to visit the corner chemist for a phial of sodium bicarbonate and you probably could put water in a light bulb as he suggests. Not so much any more. But that’s OK, because Evil Mad Scientist co-founder Windell Oskay has rescued Barrett’s wonderfully provocative book from obscurity and updated it for the 21st century. Oskay used Barrett’s original text when he was young, building over 200 projects to compile his own at-home science lab. What did he learn along the way? Pretty much everything. Yes, you could purchase all of the components ready-made but your young maker will miss out on the fun and learning involved in creating them themselves. With literally hundreds of thought-provoking open-ended questions that need solving, this is the ultimate Science Fair primer.
Begin by making a battery from a penny and continue on from there, learning complex concepts in a simple way that guarantees success from the start. Fully illustrated and presented with a fun comic, this book marked a different publishing path for us, and one we’re glad we took. This is a terrific book to get interested youngsters, ages 8 and up, hooked on the pleasures of discovery. You’ll probably discover a thing or two, yourself!
Make: Paper Inventions: Machines that Move, Drawings that Light Up, and Wearable and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll
This is the first in Kathy Ceceri’s “Inventions” series in which she takes such ordinary items as paper and teaches us how to make such non-ordinary things as robots. A best-seller, Paper Inventions has a great wow effect as readers learn how strong paper can be, how delicate it is, and how many ways it can be used, from wearable clothing to scaleable structures. Kathy narrates a fascinating backgrounder on this ancient material, making this a great book to both read and make from.
We kind of sensed we were onto something when Tom Igoe, an Arduino co-founder and ITP professor, pronounced this book “an excellent introduction to microcontroller electronics,” adding: “This book is great.” Fully illustrated and dead simple, this book is written so that someone with absolutely no background in electronics, let alone microcontrollers, can understand what the fuss is all about. Step-by-step instructions take readers through increasingly sophisticated projects that build conceptually upon each other without the reader even noticing (don’t tell the kids). Brand new and highly recommended!
Written by Casey Reas, the artist and designer who invented the processing language, this short book gently introduces the core concepts around working with this interactive graphical interface. If you’re an artist looking to develop interactive graphics programs or a programmer who wants to become an artist, this book will take you where you want to go. It’s been a best-seller since it was published, and the Google alert I have set for Casey that goes off pretty much every week explains why.