The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


Finding a Cover for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo — A WSJ article and slideshow on the cover design process for the bestselling novel by Steig Larsson:

For three months, Peter Mendelsund, a senior designer at Knopf, prepared nearly 50 distinct designs…  Mr. [Sonny] Mehta ultimately endorsed the vivid yellow jacket with the swirling dragon design: “It was striking and it was different.”

Peter Mendelsund has some further thoughts about the cover, Wittgenstein, David Foster Wallace, and design in a great post on his blog JACKET MECHANICAL:

Due to many factors (the mechanisms of the approval process; design’s fundamentally commercial aspects…) when one examines the field of design, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that good design must be, above all, likeable.

Design is too intimately entangled with matters of taste (to use Wittgenstein’s word) to be demanding enough to be Art. I have to say that in my years in the field, I’ve yet to be made to cry by a work of design. I’ve yet to be forced to view the world differently due to a work of design. I’ve yet to be really, truly gripped by a work of design. I know it’s deeply self-defeating to say this, yet, the best design has only ever evoked in me the feeling of “that’s cool.”

And on the subject of book cover design…

Creative Problem Solving — Macmillan Designers and art directors Susan Mitchell, Charlotte Strick, and Henry Sene Yee discuss the state of book cover design at FSG‘s new Work in Progress blog:

We’re interpreting or packaging other people’s ideas. If someone gives me a manuscript, I interpret it. That’s problem solving… I’m not just here to create something beautiful. Sometimes I’m here to be a plumber. I love that aspect—I can fix things. I’ll make it balance, whatever it is.

Still Reading? — Patrick Kingsley on the art of slow reading for The Guardian:

Still reading? You’re probably in a dwindling minority. But no matter: a literary revolution is at hand. First we had slow food, then slow travel. Now, those campaigns are joined by a slow-reading movement – a disparate bunch of academics and intellectuals who want us to take our time while reading, and re-reading. They ask us to switch off our computers every so often and rediscover both the joy of personal engagement with physical texts, and the ability to process them fully.

Also in The Guardian

Unwanted — A 12-page comic strip tale of unwanted immigrants by Joe Sacco, author of Safe Area Gorazde, Footnotes in Gaza, and Palestine

…And on a not unrelated note: Publishing Perspectives looks at comics and graphic novels in the Middle East and how they are pushing at cultural boundaries.

And finally…

Bob Stein of The Institute for the Future of the Book interviewed by On The Media:

The western version of the printing press is invented in 1454. It takes 50 years for page numbers to emerge. It took humans that long to figure out that it might be useful to put numbers onto the pages.

What is slightly curious about this interview is that Stein acknowledges the essentially unpredictable messiness of the future, and yet it doesn’t seem to stop him…

Similar Posts:

Leave a Reply