The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

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.

October 12, 2016
by Dan
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Elaine Lustig Cohen, Pioneer

I was sad to hear that designer Elaine Lustig Cohen had died aged 89 last week. She will forever be associated with her more famous husband Alvin Lustig, but she was a remarkable designer in her own right and her influence, as Steven … Continue reading

April 28, 2016
by Dan
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The Many Ways a Book Cover is Rejected

In an excellent post for The Literary Hub, designer Erik Carter writes about designing the cover of Reiner Stach’s Is That Kafka? 99 Finds for New Directions, and the process of getting a book cover approved: The actual process of designing a book … Continue reading

February 17, 2016
by Dan
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New Directions Staying Small

Maria Bustillos visits New Directions and talks to publisher and president Barbara Epler about the business for The New Yorker: Today’s visitor to New Directions’ elegantly shabby offices, in Chelsea, may stand on the nineteenth-floor balcony beside Epler, who is in … Continue reading

October 7, 2014
by Dan
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Paul Sahre at New Directions

“I started out doing posters for the theater. It’s almost the same thing as a book cover: the promise of an experience. It has to show you what you’re in for, without spelling it out.” Designer Paul Sahre discusses his … Continue reading

May 15, 2014
by Dan
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The Great Discontent: Paul Sahre

You can be as happy or as miserable doing design as anything else you decide to do. It doesn’t matter what it is; it only matters that you commit to it. Do you care? Can you commit? That’s it. I … Continue reading

March 9, 2011
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Two stunningly minimal designs by Rodrigo Corral for New Directions. Faceout Books is back after a hiatus. First up, an interview with Jennifer Heuer about her design for Down and Delirious in Mexico City by Daniel Hernandez. Haystacks of Needles … Continue reading

November 19, 2010
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

New Directions celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2011 and to mark the occasion, creative director at large Rodrigo Corral commissioned illustrator Felix Sockwell to redesign their iconic colophon by Heinz Henghes.  Sockwell writes about the redesign process (and vomiting!) here … Continue reading

May 22, 2010
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

A fittingly Alvin Lustig-like cover for New Directions by Rodrigo Corral, seen at Book Covers Anonymous. An Open Book-Publishing Platform — Book Oven’s Hugh McGuire on WordPress as a book publishing platform. It’s an intriguing idea even if don’t accept … Continue reading

April 16, 2010
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

John Squire‘s 1980’s covers for the Penguin Decades Series at The Creative Review. The art direction was by Penguin’s Jim Stoddart, but yes, it is THAT John Squire (i.e. awesome). Fine Independent Publishing — An interesting interview with Barbara Epler, … Continue reading

January 21, 2009
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany, Jan 21st, 2009

The Books are alright — Montreal’s Hugh McGuire (of LibriVox and Book Oven) on the Penguin-sponsored BookCamp in London: If the amount of thought and enthusiasm generated that day — and evening — is any indication, I think we’re going … Continue reading

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