The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


Born Modern Alvin Lustig

I’m currently in Vancouver for the Raincoast Books sales conference and I was very happy to see Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig by Steven Heller and Elaine Lustig Cohen on Chronicle Books Fall 2010 list. Design:Related has a short piece about the book here.

(Obvious disclosure: Born Modern will be distributed in Canada by my employer Raincoast Books).

Lessons from Allen LaneJames Bridle on what publishers can learn from the founder of Penguin Books:

Amazon is an infrastructure company, Apple a technology and design company, Google is a search engine. None of them will be able to replicate publishers’ passion for books.

But to take advantage of this, publishers need to look… beyond one-size-fits-all definitions of our product, and beyond publicity-grabbing, short-term management and imprint rearrangements that have nothing to do with readers’ demands.

In short, we need to walk down that platform with Allen Lane again, take a long look at where and how people are reading, and help them to find a good book.

Unknown — The Guardian discusses lost and undiscovered literature, including the work Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky:

Eventually Krzhizhanovsky succumbed to despair and stopped writing, choosing instead to compose his narratives in his skull. Even those works that were written down, however, feel internal, hermetic. Clearly Krzhizhanovsky expected to remain unread, and so could be as dense and complex as he wished. But if the stories are not always easy to follow, they’re always worth the effort.

The marvelous NYRB recently published Memories of the Future, a collection Krzhizhanovsky’s short stories (and it’s very good).

48 Hour Magazine — Can you write, photograph, illustrate, design, edit, and ship a magazine in two days? An interesting team of people want to find out…

A Lack of Ideas — at The New York Times book blog Paper Cuts tries to define what makes a cliché:

“Words can be overused, or used thoughtlessly…but a cliché… is a phrase that substitutes for a thought. The dictionary calls it ‘an expression or idea that has become trite.’ Individual words don’t become trite — except in a context…”

[W]hat ought to concern readers, writers and editors most is not necessarily the overused words (we all get sick of “lyrical” and “compelling” and their ilk), but rather the intellectual laziness their overuse might signal.

And finally…

200 Year Kalendar — A beautiful letterpress calendar produced by German design studio Sonner, Vallée u. Partner, seen at Studio on Fire’s blog Beast Pieces (via ISO50).

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