The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


Megan Wilson‘s new cover design for An Education by Lynn Barber.

Of a Certain Blockheadedness — Scott McLemee on the internet’s “gigantic plot” to get him to write for free:

The idea that new media has somehow abolished the old hierarchical structuring of the field (making everything level and equal and rhizomatic and whatnot) is only half right, at best. The hierarchies aren’t as well-marked as they used to be but they aren’t gone. Talk of an “army of amateurs” is at this point persuasive only to people who enlist without paying any attention to the fine print.

The Art of Fontana Modern Masters — Much linked to elsewhere, James Pardey (of the The Art of Penguin Science-Fiction site mentioned here) has new project on the Op-Art inspired Fontana Modern Masters book cover designs. He’s also written about the series for Eye (via Ace Jet 170 and Daily Discoveries on Design).

The New SleeknessAmi Greko and Pablo Defendini (and other “bookish types”) try to fill a hole in publishing punditry. Having tried that myself and failed horribly, I can only wish them good luck.

Around The World with the Bodoni Family — A beautiful new 60-page book by graphic designer Teresa Monachino seen at The Creative Review. Each letter of the alphabet is printed in Bodoni to illustrate a place beginning with that letter.

Wave of Mutilation — Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder, on the films of David Lynch in the New Statesman. Yes, it is as weird and unlikely as it sounds (via 3:AM):

Try to count the instances of deformity in Lynch’s work, or of people being deformed on camera, and you’ll lose count pretty quickly…  Deformity, for Lynch, is not simply thematic: it is instrumental. In his films, what the continual, almost systematic replacement of body parts and faculties by instruments – crutches, wheelchairs, hearing aids and ever weirder apparatuses sometimes as large as rooms – produces is a whole prosthetic order, a world of which prosthesis is not just a feature, but a fundamental term, an ontological condition.

Information Wants to be Valued — Ian Grant, Managing Director of Encyclopaedia Britannica, at BookBrunch:

The new online world has given book publishers good reason to review everything that they do, from what to publish to how to run their businesses. It is a noisy call to new action and fresh efforts, but publishers are well-placed to respond. The core skills we have had for generations – imagining our users, creating shapely products that meet their needs, and identifying the transfer of value that results in a sale, are precisely the skills that make good publishing online successful and satisfying. Information does not “want to be free”; customers want to be inspired and satisfied.

And finally: It seems I’m not the only one who doesn’t take predictions about the book industry entirely serious… Laurence Hughes over at the Huffington Post:

Some time in the next decade, someone will download both The Bible and The Satanic Bible to their e-reader, triggering the Final Conflict and ushering in Armageddon and the End of Days. Expect a slight dip in book sales during the thousand-year reign of the Antichrist.

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