The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

January 27, 2017
by Dan
2 Comments

1984

The dystopia described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel “1984” suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes. (Hey, … Continue reading

January 19, 2017
by Dan
0 comments

Philip K. Dick’s Vision of Fascism in America

I have to confess that I haven’t seen the TV adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, but I found Aaron Bady’s discussion of the series — and how it differs from the book — at The New Yorker, quite … 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 3, 2016
by Dan
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Stanislaw Lem Penguin Modern Classics

A new Penguin Modern Classic edition of Mortal Engines by Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem is available in the UK this week. Art directed by Jim Stoddart, this is the third of Lem’s books in the Penguin Modern Classics … Continue reading

May 5, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

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

December 22, 2015
by Dan
3 Comments

Series Design 2015

In my last post on the book covers of 2015, I thought I would take a look back at some of the series that caught my eye this this year… Stephen Baxter / Manifold; design by Mike Topping (Harper Voyager … Continue reading

October 7, 2015
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note October 2015

A little bit later than scheduled, here is my October selection of book covers. There are three from Verso, and two by James Paul Jones, but I think it’s still another month of interesting, diverse, and eclectic work. I hope you agree… … Continue reading

April 6, 2015
by Dan
2 Comments

Book Covers of Note April 2015

Never mind that still feels like some crazy never-ending winter in Toronto, it’s (allegedly) April so here are a few new and recent covers that have caught my eye in the past month… American Warlord by Johnny Dwyer; design by Oliver Munday (Knopf … Continue reading

May 1, 2014
by Dan
3 Comments

Triangles Are My Favourite Shape Part Two

To paraphrase The Smiths circa 1987, I may have started something I can’t finish with this triangles on book covers thing. Typical me. This is my second post on the topic, and there is one more in the works, but then I … Continue reading

April 24, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

The Story of Pelican Books

Penguin UK is relaunching its nonfiction line Pelican in May with a redesigned logo and design. This short new video from the publisher takes a flying look at the imprint’s history and some of its more memorable covers:

June 19, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Fully Booked – Interview with David Pearson and Jim Stoddart

GestaltenTV have been reposting some of their past videos, and I just came across this interview with designer David Pearson and Penguin art director Jim Stoddart from 2008 for the Gestalten title Fully Booked: Cover Art and Design for Books (currently unavailable sadly):

May 21, 2010
by Dan
2 Comments

Penguin RED

Penguin Press Art Director and designer Jim Stoddart talks about his design for the (Penguin Classics)RED edition of Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola: Penguin designers Coralie Bickford-Smith and Stefanie Posavec also talk about their designs for series. There’s more information … Continue reading

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