The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend

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I’ve not been entirely convinced by all of the artists’ books covers I’ve seen coming out the Never Judge…? show at StolenSpace in London (to be fair, I’ve not been to the exhibition in person), but Gary Taxali’s design for The Confederacy of Dunces is just great. I believe this edition will be available from Penguin UK in April 2011. There’s more on the exhibition at Creative Review.

What Font Should I Use?Smashing Magazine’s 5 principles for choosing and using typefaces.

The Collectors — NPR on e-readers, data collection and personal privacy (via MobyLives):

Most e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, have an antenna that lets users instantly download new books. But the technology also makes it possible for the device to transmit information back to the manufacturer.

“They know how fast you read because you have to click to turn the page,” says Cindy Cohn, legal director at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It knows if you skip to the end to read how it turns out…”And it’s not just what pages you read; it may also monitor where you read them. Kindles, iPads and other e-readers have geo-location abilities; using GPS or data from Wi-Fi and cell phone towers, it wouldn’t be difficult for the devices to track their own locations in the physical world.

(It’s also worth noting, as Steven W. Beattie does, that this all applies equally (if not more so) to  Kobo’s new Reading Life app.)

Not Just a Stereotype — Michael Bhaskar, Digital Publishing Manager at Profile Books, offers some final thoughts on 2010 at Book Brunch, dispelling a few myths along the way:

Like many groups, publishers are easily stereotyped, and like such groups too, they find that the media usually plays along with the stereotype rather than discovering the nuances behind it. So we hear about a slightly staid world of boring pedants, blinking helplessly at the on-rushing lights of the digital juggernaut and eagerly burrowing their way back to the 1950s… But this isn’t the industry I know. Far from being terrified of digital, publishing has actually already become well adapted to the digital world.

In his recent study of publishing, Cambridge academic John Thompson makes the point that, from the industry’s point of view, much of the digital transition has already taken place. In the workflows of most publishers the only time we see printed material is at the very end of the process… The day to day reality of a publishing house is one of dealing with digital products…

Wave of Information — Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story, in conversation with Robert Birnbaum for The Morning News:

Sure the novel has survived. Television, radio, telegraph, film—just about anything that has been thrown at it. It’s a very durable form. And the novels are getting better and better. I am shocked at the quality of literature. What I worry about more than anything is—maybe this anecdotal “living in New York”—is the exhaustion of people… The difficulty people have of opening up a book after a day of being bombarded with bits of information, most of it useless. And much, if redundant, certainly information that is ceaseless. Ceaseless waves of it. You come home, the quest for narrative is still there—you want narrative. What’s the water-cooler discussion going to be about? It’ll be about Mad Men, which you can sit there and passively take in—it’s a wonderful show—as opposed to something that requires a mass of concentration and effort. That’s my fear. Who knows, maybe it’s completely unfounded.

And finally…

Carolyn Kellogg chooses her 13 favourite bookplates from Etsy for the LA Times ‘Jacket Copy’ blog (pictured above: Skull and Crossbones bookplates by rxletterpress).

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One Comment

  1. I just never, ever get tired of Taxali.

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