The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany, Jan 28th 2009

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John Updike (pictured) has died at 76The Guardian and the New York Times look back at his life and career in pictures. Designer Observer points to ‘Deceptively Conceptual’ Updike’s astute 2005 essay on book covers for the New Yorker:

Publishing forms a minor branch of the entertainment industry, and book design is increasingly a matter of fashion—that is, of attention-getting. In the visual clamor of a bookstore, the important thing is to be different; a whisper becomes a shout, and the ugly becomes beautiful if it attracts attention. Yet an utter flaunting of conventional expectations may baffle and repel the public; when the title and the author’s name are left off the front of the book… it sends a subliminal message of contempt for the written word, the product being packaged.

Batman as jazz– Brad Mackay wins top prize for funniest headline of the week for his look at the reinvention of the Dark Knight and the genius of BatManga! in the Globe and Mail.

“Content is Free… But Curation is Sacred” — Peter Collingridge at Times Emit considers the implications of the Google settlement and what happens if/when we are flooded with unmediated free “stuff”:

[A]s the amount of content we are exposed to increases, without any discernible gauge of quality, it is the trusted curators of that content to whom we will choose to give our attention, time or money, rather then trying to filter it all out personally… the curator may be the bloke in the record shop who knows my music collection and recommends something new, the staff in my local wine merchant, or a particularly good blog I follow, my newspaper – anything. However, it is not Amazon’s recommendation algorithm; it is decidedly human, and, over time, a relationship of trust is built up. If it works, that trust leads to action, purchase, attention, refinement and more trust.

See the Web Site, Buy the Book: J. Courtney Sullivan looks at author web sites and book trailers for the New York Times.

Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publisher Weekly has been fired is “leaving as part of a companywide restructuring”. The indefatigable Sarah Weiman has a extensive round-up of the reactions in the blogosphere.

The fabulous Book Cover Archive have recently add a couple of lovely minimalist cover designs by Gabriele Wilson (pictured above). Nice.

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