The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


Beautiful children’s book and magazine covers from Korea in the 1950’s and 1960’s at the amazing 50 Watts.

Not a Pretty Scene — Tess Thackara on design and the future of printed books at Guernica magazine:

Amy Martin’s illustrations for Symphony City [published by McSweeney’s McMullens imprint 2011] create a layered multidimensional and richly textural world, which often appears like original paper collages. In some places the visual environment of an urban landscape full of music she creates is so absorbing that I wondered what an e-book or iPad app could offer that print couldn’t… McSweeney’s art director and editor Brian McMullen, who developed and gave his name to the imprint, offered a more practical reason for keeping to printed matter for kids: “Those of us who are parents aren’t convinced that kids need to be encouraged to spend more time than they already do in front of screens… Have you ever tried to tell a three-year-old it’s time to stop looking at one of these devices and hand it back to Daddy? It’s not a pretty scene. These devices are just not compatible with bedtime, in my experience, whereas a printed picture book, for whatever reason, is.”

See also: Designers on Book Covers of the Future at Publishing Perspectives.

Publishing’s Ecosystem on the Brink — An interesting summary by the Author’s Guild of recent articles in Bloomberg Business Week, The New York Times and Harpers about the perilous state of the  book industry.

And finally…

Attention Deficit — Lars Mensel interviews Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, for The European:

There’s no question that the internet offers all sorts of benefits – that is the reason why we use it so much. It is an incredibly powerful and useful technology that makes all sorts of information immediately available to us. Things that used to be impossible, hard or expensive to find are now right there. And we all know how to improve our ability to make decisions with it. But accompanying that, incredibly, is the fact that we become so intent on gathering information that we never slow down and think deeply about the information we find. We gain the ability to harvest huge amounts of data but we lose the ability to engage in contemplation, reflexion and other modes of thinking that require a large amount of attentiveness and the ability to filter out distractions and disruptions.


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