Bitmap Books is known for its amazing books that not only celebrate video games but serve as patronage for fans.
The Mirror sat down with Bitmap Books founder Sam Dyer to discuss everything from founding the publisher to Horizon.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how bitmap books came to be?
Sam: “I’ve been doing commercial graphic design for 15 years, and I was getting a little bored with designing brochures or logos for companies I had little interest in. In my spare time, I’m a big fan of retro gaming. And as the hobby grew in popularity, some books began to appear of varying quality.
“I thought ‘I could do something like this and I chose to focus on my first computer, the mighty Commodore 64! The idea of designing a book on something I was very passionate about turned out to be a win-win for me – It was a way to combine my two biggest passions in design and gaming.
“When Bitmap Books first started, I was still really in full-time employment. It started out very much as a hobby; an outlet for my creativity in evenings and weekends and a vehicle that helped me get along with the things I loved. Allowed to have a little fun.
“It has systematically changed to what it is today; I wouldn’t say it was accidental, because I’ve consciously worked very hard to achieve my goals, but in the beginning, I never consciously set out to be a boutique publisher. did.
“I had no book publishing experience and had to learn right away, but I think my previous background in commercial marketing and design gave me a good foundation to learn about really running a business and promoting it successfully Is.
“Our first title was Commodore 64: A Visual Collection. Because we didn’t have a ready audience, we chose to use crowdfunding, it raised almost £36,000 from almost 1,000 backers. This amazing initial success was a surprise, and I The dark arts of crowdfunding fulfillment and backer management had to be learned quickly!”
Was there a gaming magazine that influenced you and your work?
Sam: “I’d say the Commodore format. It was a while before I got my Commodore 64 (1989), and by this time, the great ZZAP! 64 magazine was in decline. The assumption was that there were 16s like the Amiga and Mega Drive on the scene. A Commodore 64 with a -bit system was also on the way.
“Future Publishing and Steve Gerratt took a calculated risk in 1992 by launching a brand new Commodore 64 magazine – a brave decision indeed, considering the C64 is 10 years old at this point. At 11 years old, I felt good that my There was a magazine dedicated to computers – it had a bit of a weird design, but it looked cool and fun and even came with cover tapes of the games every month!
“I would say this was my first experience with graphic design, and it combined with my love of pixel art set me on my way into the creative arts.”
What are some of your favorite video game books?
Sam: “Because of my childhood obsession with Sensible Soccer, I have to say Sensible Software 1986-1999.
“Not only are the various interviews and visual treatments great, but it was the first video game book I ever bought, and the moment I decided to make my own.”
What is the process and how long does it take to make one of your books?
Sam: “I would say an average of 12-18 months from initial idea to completion. Typically, once the idea is agreed upon, the next step would be to have a play with the look and feel, and some of the designs. Come along with what everything might look like.
“Once there is a set of design templates in place, it will be a matter of assembling the materials – the two main aspects here will be words and images. The images in our books are usually screenshots that are captured using an emulator.
“This can be time-consuming, as some sports require long hours of play to get the required variety. Luckily, we work with a fantastic team that helps out with screenshots (thanks Gonsalo!).
“Words usually come from a single author, although books, such as our Visual Collection series, are a selection of several short interviews and soundbites, so we will work with our trusted journalists to assemble this material.
“Once the words and illustrations are created, the book will then move on to the design and artwork phase. This can take 3-5 months, depending on the type of material. Once the design is in a drafting phase, So the whole book goes through an editor, and then to a proofreader.
“The final step is to prepare everything for print, making sure all images are of sufficient resolution and that the colors are set to CMYK.
“Once this is done, the book will go to the printer, which will take about 3 months for the finished items to reach our warehouse.”
What was your first book and as you have become much more established, how different has the process become?
Sam: “Our first book was called Commodore 64: Visual Compendium. Although size-wise, it was much smaller than our more recent books, the process is largely the same.
“This is where my career in graphic design has put me in good stead with Bitmap Books.
“The discipline of seeing a project through a deadline was something I was very used to.”
What has been the overall reception to your books and how does it make you feel?
Sam: “We are incredibly blessed to have such loyal and passionate customers. We regularly receive some amazing responses, which makes me incredibly proud. I make a conscious effort to read every review I receive.”
How do you source third-party contributors like authors, industry professionals, and illustrators to help bring the books together?
Sam: “The retro gaming community is a tight bunch, and full of talented individuals. Whether it’s writers or artists, over the years we’ve built some great relationships with our contributors, that we continue to work with time and time again. Huh.
“We are also very fortunate to be contacted by potential contributors on a regular basis, which keeps our pool of talent fresh.”
Who is the most unique/famous contributor you’ve worked with and why?
Sam: “One of the biggest moments was when Tim Stamper of Ultimate/Rare fame agreed to contribute to our ZX Spectrum book.
“Tim is notorious for not getting involved in projects like this, so it was a wonderful recognition for what we were doing that he was willing to put his name behind some of the words in the book. It taught me a valuable lesson.” – ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Which classic video game has had the most profound impact on you, and do you think any modern game has been as iconic?
Sam Dyer: “I wouldn’t say such a profound influence, but Mystery of Monkey Island is, and always will be, my favorite game. The storytelling, puzzle solving, humor and presentation are top drawer, and about what a video game could be. Completely changed my perception.
“I’m not alone, as the Monkey Island games have touched many gamers. It’s hard to say whether any modern games have had a similar impact – I think we can answer that in 30 years’ time.
Since you spend a lot of time looking at old games, do you think there is something classic that the modern industry has lost?
Sam: “The main issue I see is that all modern games look pretty much the same. There are small differences in graphics and performance, but overall, most modern systems all look alike.
“Back in the day, this was not the case, and games would look wildly different across different systems. This variety adds extra interest, as kids, playing the same game at a friend’s house on a different system and watching it always. It was funny how it went.
You are clearly a gaming fan, what game/genre would you personally like to make a book about and why?
Sam: “I’d love to cover football video games in detail. Maybe one for the future…”
How connected are you with your community, do they offer/solicit potential ideas for books?
Sam: “Yeah, all the time. I am an active member of the community and frequently receive book pitches. We can’t do all this, but I love hearing people’s views.”
Are there any recent games over the years that you think would become a great book and why?
Sam: “I’m a big fan of Luigi’s Mansion. My son and I have played through Luigi’s Mansion 3 several times and we love it. A book full of concept art and interviews with the developer must be amazing. “
Is there anything you would like to add?
Sam: “Just to say thank you to all our customers for their continued support over the years.”
Amazing Books You Can Buy From Bitmap Books Website,