The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Monday Miscellany, June 29th, 2009

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Gestalten’s Naïve: Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design, edited by Robert Klanten and Hendrik Hellige,  reviewed at The Designer’s Review of Books.

Served — Jeremy Ettinghausen, Penguin UK’s Digital Publisher, explains the rationale for their new (v. cool sounding) project for kids We Make Stories:

[A]s the debate about the value and price of digital content rages on, I’m testing out a new mantra on my suspicious colleagues; services not content. The idea, ill-formed as it is in my head, is that while we might continue find it a challenge to get consumers to pay for digital content, we might be able to use our skills, expertise and experience to create services that people will pay for. Services are what we do for writers, so perhaps there might be services we can create for readers.

Proof I think — were it still needed — that not all the most interesting book stuff is being generated in Seattle.

Friction — Laura J. Murray’s excellent critique of Brett Gaylor’s documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto for Culture Machine (PDF). Murray’s comments about a copyright  ‘war’ and choosing ‘sides’ certainly resonated with me:

I’m not on any side, because I’m not in a war. Such language is a) a kneejerk echo of the Hollywood/recording industry message, b) offensive to anyone who has ever experienced a blood and guts war, and c) a joke to those who are not already convinced of the importance of remix. But most importantly, it is, d), an unproductive way of framing our current copyright challenges, because it suggests that the debate won’t end until one side has achieved total victory.


The State of the Union — A big sprawling spaghetti post from the the chaps at Three Guys and One Book (loosely) about the state of publishing from the perspective of readers (mostly). I don’t agree with all of it by any means, but some of it sticks…

Less, But Better — A profile and brief interview of design hero Dieter Rams at BBH Labs. Just FYI — If I ever write a publishing manifesto (ha!), it will be called Less, But Better: A Publishing Manifesto. And just for the hell of it, here are Dieter Rams 10 principles of good design:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Good design makes a product useful
  3. Good design is aesthetic
  4. Good design helps us to understand a product
  5. Good design is unobtrusive
  6. Good design is honest
  7. Good design is durable
  8. Good design is thorough to the last detail
  9. Good design is concerned with the environment
  10. Good design is as little design as possible

Most, if not all, of these principles could be applied to publishing. Who (or where?) is publishing’s Dietar Rams?

And finally…

Big Gold Dream — Michael Fusco’s great redesigns for the Pegasus Classic Crime reissues of Chester Himes seen (of course) at FaceOut Books. Michael Fusco has some more great cover designs on his website.

(And a quick side note to publishers and designers — it was impossible to find decent hi-res image of these covers. If you want people share your brilliant work, you need to work on this. Ideally I want images that are at least 400px x 600px)

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  1. Pingback: High-Rez Himes | The Casual Optimist

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