The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 24, 2014
by Dan
1 Comment

Q & A with Erin Fitzsimmons

In recent years, I doubt there’s been a greater publishing success story than Young Adult — or ‘YA’ —  fiction. Sometimes mistakenly described as a genre, YA is actually an age-category roughly ascribed to books across a range of subjects and … Continue reading

April 10, 2012
by Dan
2 Comments

Q & A with Jennifer Heuer

Jennifer Heuer is a book designer based in Brooklyn. Formerly a designer at HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, she now runs her own studio out of the Pencil Factory. Jen’s striking inkblot design for 1000 Black Umbrellas by Daniel McGinn, … Continue reading

March 1, 2010
by Dan
2 Comments

Monday Miscellany

Pub Psychology — Archie Ferguson, formerly of Knopf and now art director at HarperCollins, interviewed at the CoveredUp blog: Publishing has always seemed a lot more glamorous than it is. And if it ever was glamorous, those days are long, … Continue reading

November 23, 2009
by Dan
4 Comments

Q & A with David Gee

I am somewhat in awe of Canadian designer David Gee. Not only does he fashion stylishly left-field book covers for independent publishers and major houses, he is also willing to scorch individual business cards by hand using vice-grips and a … Continue reading

November 13, 2009
by Dan
2 Comments

Something for the Weekend, November 13th, 2009

Is this a new cover for J G Ballard’s Crash? HarperCollins Canada have a release date of November 2nd, so I guess so. And I would assume The design/illustration is by the immensely talented David Wardle who did the previous … Continue reading

September 4, 2009
by Dan
3 Comments

Q & A with Lincoln Agnew, Harry and Horsie

Children’s picture book Harry and Horsie by Katie Van Camp has mostly been in the news because the eponymous Harry happens to be the very real son of TV host and comedian David Letterman (who also provides the foreword to … Continue reading

May 15, 2009
by Dan
1 Comment

Something for the Weekend, May 15th, 2009

The Story of God — designer Arthur Cherry discusses his elegant design (which uses Marian Bantjes’ typeface Restraint to such brilliant effect) for the new edition of Michael Lodahlr’s book at FaceOut Books. A Manifesto — Ted Genoways, the editor … Continue reading

April 22, 2009
by Dan
0 comments

Midweek Miscellany, April 22nd, 2009

Blue Prints for a World Revolution — seen at the Antiquarian Bookshop 108 Buddhas, which has an amazing collection of avant-garde journals and books from Japan and Eastern Europe  in their gallery section (via Michelle McCormick’s Inspiration Resource ). 12 … Continue reading

February 2, 2009
by Dan
1 Comment

The e-book Revolution Favours the Agile (But Deep Pockets Help)

The publishing industry is finally turning toward “mass digitization”, Matthew Shaer reports in The Christian Science Monitor . But “it’s not the bigger houses, such as Macmillan or HarperCollins, that are moving the fastest” he says. It is agile independent … Continue reading

December 4, 2008
by Dan
0 comments

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?*

There has been relentless torrent of grim publishing news coming out of New York the last few days. It has, at times, been hard to keep up with it all, and I don’t know the people involved well enough or … Continue reading

December 1, 2008
by Dan
0 comments

This Is Where We Live

This Is Where We Live is a wonderfully rich stop-animation video celebrating the 25th anniversary of HarperCollins imprint 4th Estate. The entire video is made from books–or parts of books–published by 4th Estate: This Is Where We Live from 4th … Continue reading

November 6, 2008
by Dan
0 comments

Media’s Last Die Hard?

The full transcript of Victoria Barnsley’s speech ‘Media’s Last Die Hard?’ (mentioned yesterday) is now available on The Bookseller website: “the pivotal question for publishers, as we confront the opportunities and threats of digitisation, isn’t a reductive one – it … Continue reading

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