Neil's News

Glowing Books

8 January 2005

Here's a fun idea which someone might wish to play with: glow in the dark books.

Create a children's book (preferably illustrated and involving monsters) printed with glow in the dark inks. It's the sort of gimmick that should really get noticed by parents shopping for bedtime reading.

On the technical side there is a major problem. Photoluminescent materials have to be charged up by exposure to light. A closed book isn't going to be charged.

One flawed solution is to make the paper and the covers translucent. Although this allows the book to charge up before bedtime, it also makes it unreadable since you'd be able to see the glowing monster on page 8 while still reading page 1.

Another flawed solution is to print the pages with Radium-based ink. This doesn't need to be charged up, it will glow in the dark for years. That's what clock dials were painted with in the 1920s. Unfortunately it is highly radioactive (that's why it glows in the dark) and would give leukemia to faithful young readers.

The only solution I can think of which would work is to use a fan-fold binding. That would allow parents to spread the book out before bedtime. After a few minutes they can fold it back up, turn out the lights, and read their children a story guaranteed to keep them awake all night.

I've searched the net for glow in the dark books, but I've only come up with one instance; an astronomy book that has glow in the dark sky maps.

I have no plans to pursue this further; I've got other fish to fry. If someone out there wants to develop the idea, have fun!

[Update: Holly Geeslin pointed me at "The Monster that Glowed in the Dark", by Annie Ingle and Heidi Petach (1993).]

Speaking of children, I got a somewhat unusual letter in the post yesterday morning. It was from a girl in California who was looking for the father of her new-born son. She had a court order for child support and was looking to apply it. It seems the letter was intended for an associate of an associate of one of our clients, but my name was the first she ran into (I'm the whois contact). Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I dutifully passed the letter on. Someone's about to have an interesting new year...

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