The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

December 13, 2016
by Dan
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The Rest of the Best

When it comes to choosing the year’s best book covers, it seems that everyone is at it these days… “These covers are challenging without being impenetrable and playful without being precious — none of which is an easy task for … Continue reading

December 13, 2016
by Dan
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Series Design 2016

Some of the most interesting and innovative book covers in the last few years have been designed as part of a series — designers and art directors seem to have more leeway with backlist titles (especially so if the author … Continue reading

October 24, 2016
by Dan
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Q & A with James Paul Jones, Oneworld

The work of Welsh designer James Paul Jones for has featured regularly here in the past few years. A versatile cover designer and one of the co-founders of Vintage UK’s design blog CMYK, James was recognised as a ‘Rising Star‘ by … Continue reading

October 18, 2016
by Dan
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New Directions Sebald Designs by Peter Mendelsund

Peter Mendelsund‘s covers for the new New Directions editions of W.G. Sebald’s classic novels The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Vertigo, are rather special. The books will be published November and are available individually and as a set.

June 8, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note June 2016

Something of a bumper post this month, with lots of black and white covers for some reason. Perhaps it’s a thing…? Addlands by Tom Bullough; design by Jenny Grigg (Granta / June 2016) Barkskins by Annie Proulx; design Jaya Miceli … Continue reading

June 6, 2016
by Dan
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All the Books

At Literary Hub, Designer Oliver Munday discusses his design process and reading the whole text: As designers, we are forced to read quickly, and incisively, mining for the clues to the coveted iconic cover. It can feel careless at times, … Continue reading

June 2, 2016
by Dan
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A Window onto a Window

In this profile of Peter Mendelsund in the June issue of Rhapsody Magazine, there is a lovely bit about the designer’s architect-artist father: In the living room of Knopf associate art director Peter Mendelsund’s Upper Manhattan apartment, inspiration is everywhere: a battered, sea-green … Continue reading

May 16, 2016
by Dan
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Rogue Bibliophile

Tom Gauld‘s cartoon on the future for book lovers for The Guardian this weekend. Tom also did the cover and interior illustration in this weekend’s Guardian Review for an article on plot by John Mullan.

May 5, 2016
by Dan
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Today in Micro-Trends: Cassette Tape Book Covers

This is another one of those posts that started out on Twitter — a flippant tweet from me sparking a conversation about books with cassette tapes and vinyl records on their covers. It turns out that putting a record on … Continue reading

March 21, 2016
by Dan
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David Pearson Found on the Shelves

At The Bookseller, designer David Pearson talks about his new cover designs for Pushkin Press’s ‘Found on the Shelves’ series celebrating 175 years of the London Library: At the heart of successful series design is motif – be it colour, type, … Continue reading

March 16, 2016
by Dan
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Making It Up: The Bookseller Interviews Mr Keenan and Gray318

I love this Bookseller interview with designers Jamie Keenan and Jon Gray, co-founders of the Academy of British Cover Design (among other things): ABCD tends to recognise and reward brave, striking and fresh approaches, rather than more “conventional” cover aesthetics. I … Continue reading

November 11, 2015
by Dan
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Christoph Niemann’s Coffee Break

Christoph Niemann for The New Yorker.

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