The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Monday Miscellany, October 26th, 2009


The brilliant Helen Yentus has redesigned the covers of Chinua Achebe’s books for Anchor with illustrations and hand lettering by Edel Rodriguez who has some amazing sketches of her work on the series at her portfolio site.  (Covers first seen at wonderful Caustic Cover Critic blog, with additional details and links from estimable John Gall.)

Pixellated Penguin — Anna Rafferty, Managing Director of Penguin Digital (UK), profiled in The Marketer Magazine:

Although volume sales of books has dropped 9.2 per cent this year… and the onset of digital publishing means a reassessment of how content is provided, Rafferty says the recession has not affected the way she markets Penguin. “We’ve always been against paying for things. We are a content company with access to the words and opinions of the funniest, most intelligent and entertaining authors in the world.”

Difficult Women — Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books (which celebrates it’s 30th anniversary this year), profiled by Nicholas Wroe for The Guardian.

Anti-Ironic — Product designer Joey Roth (designer of the beautiful Sorapot teapot) interviewed at Boing Boing:

I see designers and companies whose work represents a disposable, ironic, trend-driven view of product design as my ideological enemies. Irony was the dominant approach a few years ago, and it’s still popular. I think it has no place in design, since physical resources are consumed when something is mass-produced, and a joke is only witty for so long. My desire to design objects that represent a more thoughtful, sustainable view grew partially from the ironic, anti-design trend I encountered as I was getting into design.

I sort of feel the same way about books…

All Cover Archive — Ben Pieratt has posted some of his early design’s for the Book Cover Archive logo at his new General Projects Blog.

Ben also had a nice post about books and logos at the BCA blog last week…

And speaking of the BCA blog, Ben recently posted about James Le Beau-Morley‘s cover design and layout concepts for 1984:

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  1. Bonus points awarded for putting the bar code on the front cover of Nineteen Eighty Four.

  2. The 1984 cover work is amazing. It really captures the feel of the book in ways that other covers I have seen don’t.

    My own copy of 1984 is so well worn that I really should pick up a new copy at some point. If I see this one I will buy it.


  3. Hey, thanks Neil. I think that design was a student project so I don’t think it is available commercially, which is a shame given most available editions of 1984 have pretty run of the mill covers (Orwell, like JG Ballard, seems to have been plagued with bad cover art!).

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