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Paris Underground: The Maps, Stations, and Design of the Metro Paperback – October 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116394
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 10.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in London in 1963, Mark Ovenden evinced an early fascination with trains and TV that has remained with him over the course of his life. Following college he pursued a number of positions in local government and on the radio promoting progressive attitudes towards gay issues before getting a full time job at BBC Radio 1 as a producer. In 1998 he joined MTV as a freelance Music Programmer, where he gave birth to another production company which went on to produce shows for Atlantic252. There Mark was later taken on as a presenter of a weekly record review show with Chris Coco and as their specialist programmes producer and later breakfast newsreader.

When Atlantic252 closed down Mark moved to Ministry Of Sound where he helped set up their DAB station, Ibiza unit and later, as Head of Radio there, ran a popular FM version of the station. Mark moved into consultancy after this working with Purple radio and the DRG.

In 2002 while still working in his spare time on his book project he moved to a fledgling TV channel as Channel Manager.

Mark Ovenden's Metro Maps of the World was published in November 2003 to great critical acclaim. It has since been re-written and updated for the American market and is now published by Penguin as Transit Maps of the World. Mark currently resides in Paris where he is researching his next book on a century of cartography of the Paris Metro Map. He is also working on several other book projects, a radio sit-com, and a TV travel show.


More About the Author

Mark was born and brought up in London, England and as a kid he was always interested in the media and in trains. He built miniature TV studios out of Lego & sticky backed plastic. He set up a closed circuit radio station which got piped through to other parts of the family home. He collected old maps of trains and often went out exploring closed-down rail lines. Aged 14-16 Mark presented a weekly show on the local hospital radio station, collected records and attempted to DJ at local events. A genuine 'geek' in the making!

Following early interests, Mark's school project was on the London Underground in which he painted a revision of the classic Beck inspired Tube diagram. Marks version kept the diagrammatic style but retained the geographic position of the lines: the resulting mess convinced him why Beck was right to expand the central area but helped gain Mark a place at Art College in Southampton. It was there he conceived of an idea to start a 'what's on' listings magazine for the area. 'Due South' published from November 1982 but Mark stepped down after just a couple of years as Editor to persue more pressing political interests. He become an activist during the 1984/5 Miners Strike. This spurred his journalistic interests and he began working for a local radio station as a trainee reporter. After a few years he was reading the news not making it.

Given his ongoing interest in gay politics and a desire to move to a livelier city, he took a job with the progressive Manchester City Council as an Equality Officer in 1990, delivering training on tackling homophobia in the workplace. Meanwhile Mark developed ideas with a colleague for a national radio show and scored a huge coup by getting BBC Radio 1 to commission their first ever series aimed at young lesbians and gay men: 'loud'n'proud' in 1993. Mark became freelance journalist and newsreader for Manchester's Kiss102 from 1994.

He took four months out in London to work on BBC2's first series for lesbians and gays, 'Gaytime TV' and back at Kiss102, Mark fronted the daily entertainment show 'The Word' , became newsreader 'Peter Parker' for London's Kiss100 breakfast show and was promoted to Programme Manager until 1997 when he became full time producer at BBC Radio 1 on the Annie Nightingale show. In mid 1998 he joined MTV as a freelance Music Programmer then became a producer and presenter at Atlantic252.

In early 2000, Mark moved to Ministry Of Sound, helping set up their DAB Digital Radio station, and as Head of Radio at MoS, Mark applied for and won the licence to run a one month long FM version of the station.

Mark moved into consultancy after this and in 2002 he joined a fledgling TV channel as Channel Manager but by this stage had already become wrapped up in the idea of compiling a book that contained the official map of every urban transit system in the world. "Metro Maps of The World" was published in November 2003 and sold out its first run in a matter of weeks. In September 2005 Mark moved to France to focus on his next book about the Paris Metro. Meantime his original publication was picked up by a Dutch Publisher ('Metrokaarten van der wereld" 2006) and also by Penguin in the USA. The American version, "Transit Maps of The World" was published October 2007. Media coverage was phenomenal and led to unexpectedly high sales, and a Top 100 ranking in the Amazon Sales Charts where it is still often the number one best-selling book in it's category (Mass Transit)! Mark is hugely proud that his work has become the best-selling book about transport design.

The book on the design of the French capital's transit system was published in October 2008 as "Paris Metro Style in map and station design". Penguin US commissioned an American version of it so Mark re-worked the concept, updated the content and it was published on October 24 2009 by Penguin as "Paris Underground, The Maps, Stations, and Design of the Metro".

Mark's next book, a follow-up to the popular transit maps offering, is called 'Railway Maps of the World' and was published by Viking Adult in May 2011. He's also working on three other follow-up books in the design field.

He lives in Paris with two fat cats where he also writes comedy and is a freelance journalist.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book helps me to lovingly revisit Paris from my armchair whenever I want.
Richard Patenaude
Printed on a slightly larger than usual format, and laid out in full color on semi-glossy, heavyweight paper, the book will adorn nearly any table on which it is laid.
Ray
This is a well-written book that traces the history of the Paris Metro through numerous official and unofficial system maps from inception to present.
MBA in the ICU

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By tramvan on November 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent and fully comprehensive of the historical events that led up to the building of the first metro line in Paris.

It then details the steady implementation of the planned network covering the whole of central Paris and also deals with the structures and stations.

Well wrtitten and very readable.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. Comes on November 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
What a great way to realise a deeper understanding of the Paris metro system! The book gives the reader a moles-eye view of how it was created and developed through the years. I found the book totally captivating.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Philip Hom on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
If one expects a review of the rolling stock of the Paris Metro, skip this book. If you are interested in the looks, feels of the graphics used on their system - this is the book you are waiting for.

Just as in his other book, this is a study of transit maps especially Paris.

Hopefully this author will cross over to this side of the pond and do such a book om a system in the USA.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ray TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is somewhat of a rarity for these days, a visual feast of visuals, graphics, diagrams, and, yes, content. Printed on a slightly larger than usual format, and laid out in full color on semi-glossy, heavyweight paper, the book will adorn nearly any table on which it is laid. Although the book could be of interest to most anyone simply by virtue of its gorgeous design and layout, the volume really becomes a delight for those who have used the incredible Paris Metro System anytime in the past decades.

The book consists primarliy of variants of metro maps printed over the last (and current) century, and although includes some photos, is really focused on the representational diagrams of the metro in all its incarnations over the years. Of particular emphasis is the design and stylistic decisions that were made on each iteration of the map to increase clarity, improve speed of use, and also to represent the system in a pleasing and distinctive format. Some of these discussions, though written at a level of detail that will surprise non-cartographers, are fascinating explorations of the work and effort that goes into these kinds of maps, and this one in particular. The accompanying text also lays out in some detail the construction and extensions of the system built afte Line 1, and serves to make this book something that can serve as a long-term exploration of the Metro. Pair this book up with Plotkin's The Paris Metro: A Ticket to French History (which has a more developed layout in text of each individual metro station across the entire 14 Lines), and you'll really have a grand exposition of the system.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grzegorz Wozniakowski on March 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
As i got this book, i thought "i can't imagine what could be new about Paris metro, coz i already have a book about this awesome system" but i was wrong! This book gives you great opportunity to know how the metro of Paris has grown over the decades, yet over a full century - and the best part of it - at least for me personaly - is the fact, that you will find there tons of historical maps. i didnt even imagine, there were so many of them! It's really amazing to have them all in one book and hold in your own hands, plus the history and other images of the iconic metro system.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Theo Johnson on October 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I didn't eat for a day and a half,
just so I could buy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Gollin on March 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paris Underground is far more than a history of the famed Paris Métro. It's a fascinating piece of social and political history, mirroring the growth of Paris from the mid-19th c. to today. It takes a long look at logistics -- what it takes to move people in, through and around a increasingly crowded urban environment. And in addition, Paris Underground is a brilliant survey of French engineering and design.
Author Mark Ovenden sees, and makes his readers see, how much one seemingly mundane element in an industrial culture -- in this case, a city transit system -- can reveal about the wider culture itself.
One key theme is the fierce Parisian resistance to development, however practical, that might insult or degrade the aboveground environment. A hero of Métro design was the designer Hector Guimard, who created the celebrated, elegant Art Nouveau entranceways which are still so much a part of the Paris streetscape, and of our image of the City of Light.
Another theme is Ovenden's tracing of the evolution of the maps, big and small, that help people link the surface geography of Paris with the comings and goings beneath its streets. What this cartographic history has to say about contemporary sensibility adds a philosophical dimension to a book that says it's only about a subway system.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pierre Gauthier on January 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
The author starts off by admitting that he has had since childhood a very intense and passionate appreciation of transit signage in general and of transit maps in particular. Indeed, the evolution of these in Paris is the true subject of the book, the history of the city's underground transit system serving merely as context. The period covered spans from the very first concepts for the system in the 19th century all the way to 2009. Clearly, extensive research has been carried out in cooperation with local authorities and fans of the topic.

The author's interest is so strong that it is contagious. However, good prior knowledge of both Paris and graphic principles is preferable to fully enjoy the book. There is frequent reference for instance to the impact of using one type of font over another in maps and signs!

The book presents an abundance of black and white and colour illustrations in all sizes, from full-page to postage stamp. Its layout is innovative though dense and, to be honest, at times almost confusing.

Though a tad specialized, this is definitely an enjoyable book that will be especially appreciated by Paris-lovers.
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