Dream sleeves: How a 40-year-old idea could save the music industry

Digital downloads and free streaming have changed the music industry for ever. Now record labels have hatched a plan to revive the album format with 1960s-influenced, art-laden packaging. John Walsh thinks the idea rocks

Change of address: Direct marketing has the chance to slash its contribution to the UK’s waste mountain

At first glance, it may look as though the direct mail industry and the environmental lobby are at opposite ends of the green spectrum. After all, of the estimated 4.3 billion pieces of direct mail that are sent or hand-delivered to mainland UK addresses each year, well over half end up in landfill sites. But change is afoot.

Minor British Institutions: Paynes Poppets

In a changing world the gratifying thing about Paynes Poppets is, obviously, that they are still with us, but also that their cardboard box packaging remains uniquely inaccessible.

Focus on Forsythe, Sadler's Wells, London

Tracing the steps of life and death

Observations: Artworks that unlock the heart of Bronson's darkness

Ever on the lookout for a new enfant terrible, the art world's current darling would seem to be Charles Bronson, aka Britain's most dangerous prisoner. Next Friday sees the release of the film Bronson, with a beefed-up, bewhiskered Tom Hardy in the lead. The same day an exhibition of the artwork Bronson has produced over 34 years in jail will open at the Amuti bookshop and gallery in the West End of London.

The Word On: Amazon's Kindle 2

"Amazon's introduction of the Kindle 2 had all the makings of a product launch by consumer electronics wunderkind Apple. [But] As much as some might try to draw parallels between Amazon's approach to books and Apple's take on music... the latest generation of Amazon's sleek, white little electronic book reader is no iPod for the book world... The company is... reluctant to push too aggressively — most noticeably, by pricing the Kindle 2 at $359, the same price as its predecessor... Amazon is in something of a catch-22. Lowering Kindle's price too much might threaten Amazon's print book business."

Start of something: Snowdrops signal the first stirrings of spring

The first snowdrops were flowering in our garden by the end of December. Given the long (and fabulous) sequence of freezing days and nights we had over Christmas and the New Year, this was surprising. They are planted in ivy along the northern boundary, which faces south and slopes to the west. Over them hang stooled stems of hazel, the catkins already almost full length. The snowdrops were one of the few things I brought here from our old garden, where I had introduced them into a wooded, shaded bit of ground.

Used condoms found in beer packaging

A supermarket apologised to a customer today after used condoms were found in the packaging of four beer cans.

Sarah Sands: The true message of Dave's Christmas card

The Boden winter catalogue is a reminder of life's verities. It is always funny to wrap bright, knitted scarves round snowmen and old school ties round dogs. Young mothers should always have long, glossy, straight hair, scrubbed faces and coltish figures. Holidays do not require sunshine. Boden people paddle hilariously in Boden boots through rivers and run across beaches in woolly hats. Children scramble on to the bonnets of Land Rovers. If I buy Boden please, please can I be Samantha Cameron?

Playing poverty: The book in middle-class make-believe

As the economy nosedives, handbooks on cheap and simple pleasures thrive. Susan Jeffreys reads the new literature of atonement

Shedding light on credit crunch depression

Don’t be down in the dumps about the credit crunch. Sir Terence Conran helps Annie Deakin dodge the winter blues with improved lighting. It’s a bright idea.

Can you dig it? The easy alternative to clearing an overgrown allotment

I am a black-plastic convert. It's been a slow process. When I first took over my allotment last autumn I had very different ideas: walking around for the first time with Jane, my new allotment chief, I was proudly shown how she had covered her entire plot in black polypropylene sheeting. "You can buy it from the garden centre up on the A40," she enthused.

Paperbacks: The Gum Thief, by Douglas Coupland

Set in the aisles of a stationery superstore, and also in the pages of a novel about a stationery superstore, The Gum Thief is classic Coupland: so postmodern that by the end you won't know which way is up. Roger is a middle-aged alcoholic, writing about two comedy drunks. Bethany is his teenaged muse. Those who hate Coupland will despise this cute novel. Fans will find a thousand more reasons to love his inventiveness.

How to cut your paper footprint

Each of us throws away, on average, a quarter of a ton of paper every year. Vicki Hill meets a woman on a mission to slash our waste and save the forests

Tips for making the most of your lawn

Here are the tips for success, and the tools of the trade, to get your patch of grass into tip-top condition

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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss