The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 30, 2016
by Dan
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Jason Booher Interviewed at The Perch

Jason Booher, designer and art director of Blue Rider Press and Plume, talks to Penguin Random House blog The Perch about the book cover design process: A design can be thought of as a set of constraints or parameters. In … Continue reading

December 1, 2015
by Dan
16 Comments

Notable Book Covers for 2015

Back in 2014, there were signs that book cover design was maybe, just maybe, having a moment. Suzanne Dean was on the BBC. Peter Mendelsund was on… well, everything. But if 2015 has felt a little quiet by comparison, there … Continue reading

September 2, 2015
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note September 2015

Something of a bumper post this month — a real mix of approaches, and a number YA titles to boot. Enjoy! The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector; design by Paul Sahre (New Directions / August 2015) Consumed by David Cronenberg; design by David A. … 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

June 2, 2014
by Dan
7 Comments

Book Covers of Note June 2014

Well, this seems to have become a regular thing doesn’t it? I have to confess that I still haven’t quite figured out exactly what covers to include in these monthly posts, only that they’re recent and I like them. It’s … 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

January 6, 2014
by Dan
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Favourite Covers of 2013: A Postscript

I didn’t exactly know what to call this post, but ‘postscript’ seems appropriate. Every time I post my annual list of favourite covers I immediately see (or remember) a dozen designs that would have been on the list (or would’ve been … Continue reading

December 13, 2013
by Dan
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Nicholas Blechman’s Best Book Covers of 2013

The great book designer George Salter once said that a good jacket “must be in perfect accord with the literary quality of the book. It must be even more if it is to function as an important sales factor, if … Continue reading

December 18, 2012
by Dan
16 Comments

Favourite Covers of 2012

For the past couple of years now (since Joseph Sullivan put the Book Design Review on ice in fact), I’ve been posting a short list of my favourite covers for books for the year. Now that thing for the New … Continue reading

November 22, 2011
by Dan
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Design Matters with Brian Rea

In the latest Design Matters podcast, Debbie Millman interviews artist and illustrator Brian Rea. The former art director for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, Rea recently illustrated three of Malcolm Gladwell’s most popular books for a new … Continue reading

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