The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend, July 24th, 2009

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Group Thinkery — Book-designing, tuba-playing Christopher Tobias has launched a new blog to discuss books, design, and publishing. Group Thinkery is also on Twitter.

I came across the stellar portfolio of High Design’s David High — which includes this rather brilliant cover for The Management Myth for W.W. Norton — earlier this week thanks to a tweet from the chaps at FaceOut Books. Go take a look.

Luck — In another one of those long, fascinating Agents and Editors Q&As from Poets and Writers that are always well worth your time, Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, looks back at his career and comments on the current state of the industry:

One of the really hard lessons was realizing how much of a crapshoot publishing is—how you can love something and do everything you can for it, and yet fail at connecting it to an audience. Maybe you misjudged it. Maybe it didn’t get the right breaks. One of the hardest things to come to grips with is how important the breaks are. There’s luck in publishing, just like in any human activity… That was one of the hardest lessons: how difficult it is to actually be effective… Writing is its own reward. It has to be. I really believe that. This is a part of publishing that’s really hard to come to grips with. But publishers can’t make culture happen the way they want it to happen… We can huff and puff and pay money and advertise and everything else, but in the end, if the readers don’t come, we can’t do anything about it.

The lovely-looking limited edition, hand-made Done Walking With My Regular Shoes by recent graduate Stina Johansson. The cover design is screen-printed onto canvas (via DesignWorkLife).

Andy designing — The New Directions blog looks at the book designs of Andy Warhol:

Andy Warhol worked for New Directions as a book designer off and on for almost 10 years. Our editor-in-chief recalls James Laughlin telling her an Andy Warhol anecdote:

“He was a very strange looking man. But all the secretaries loved him because he would sneak little origami creatures on their desks when they weren’t looking. One time as he was walking out of the office he looked bashfully over at a secretary goggling at him and said ‘I like you. You’re so hirsute.’ Her reply? A very soft and giggly ‘thank you.’”

Personalization — Steven Heller talks to Rick Smolan about The Obama Time Capsule, a book that can be customized by the reader before it is printed:

I wondered if there was a way to create a book that wove together all these amazing images with each individual book buyer’s own story, photos and even their children’s artwork, so that every single copy was unique. I intentionally didn’t want to do a trade book edition because part of the goal was to have no books in warehouses, no print run, no books printed that might have to be later pulped and destroyed, no books shipped over by container ship from China or Korea (where all the big coffee table books are printed). The idea was to do the book of the future 10 years ahead of its time.

In this particular instance the customization of the book sounds a little gimicky to me, but possibilities it opens up seem pretty endless…

And lastly… Not being very quick on the uptake (what, you noticed?) I just came across the winners of The Strand bookstore’s Eye on The Strand photography contest. The Grand Prize was awarded to Josh Robinson for ‘Strand Shadows’ (above) and the contest exhibition, which opened on July 15th, will run through August 26, 2009 at the Pratt Institute CCPS Gallery, located at 144 West 14th Street, New York. I’m also rather fond of Cary Conover’s ‘Upside Down’ which took second place:

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One Comment

  1. Thanks so much for including our post on Andy Warhol!

    I too loved that Management Myth cover and thought the designer did a great job of conveying the idea of the book without it looking like a conventional nor staid management book.

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