The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


Steven Heller, editor of I Heart Design and author/editor of countless other books about design, at 10 Answers.

And Steven Heller is one of the designers featured in BBC Radio documentary I Heart Milton Glaser about the iconic I (Heart) NY logo and the designer who created it (go listen now because it’s only available for a few more days).

Print and the City –a fascinating look at whether movable type printing presses were the drivers of economic growth in cities by Jeremiah Dittmar (via The Browser):

[C]ities in which printing presses were established 1450-1500 had no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses… Cities that adopted print media benefitted from positive spillovers in human capital accumulation and technological change broadly defined. These spillovers exerted an upward pressure on the returns to labour, made cities culturally dynamic, and attracted migrants.

In the pre-industrial era, commerce was a more important source of urban wealth and income than tradable industrial production. Print media played a key role in the development of skills that were valuable to merchants. Following the invention printing, European presses produced a stream of math textbooks used by students preparing for careers in business.

The Savage Marketplace — A really interesting and thoughtful survey of the current state of book editing in the UK by Alex Clark , with contributions from Diana Athill, Blake Morrison, Jeannette Winterson and others, for The Guardian:

[W]hat saps the spirit are the manuscripts that leave you with the question: why did no one sit down with the writer and point out where this isn’t working? Why didn’t a red pen mark the hackneyed phrase, or the stock character, or the creaky dialogue? And, sometimes, why didn’t someone deliver the unfortunate verdict: this simply isn’t ready yet, and may never be?

And finally, if you’re in London… Kemistry Gallery have an exhibition of film posters by Saul Bass from the BFI archive, February 17th to March 17th:


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