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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff