Friday, October 06, 2006

Book Covers

Maybe it's because it's Frankfurt Book Fair - or maybe it's because I've spent most of my life being equally obsessed with books (as in literature) and books as a physical object - but whilst taking a little break from sourcing out books for our own little book project I was immediately drawn to this posting on (a site that I didn't know before, but is quickly becoming intrigued by - found via hoping for happy accidents). It took me to a flickr site with some great old style Penguin Book Covers. If you're interested in the Book Cover design of Penguin especially they've been given quite a lot of notice as of late (possible due to turning 70 last year). There was a V&A exhibition last year, and there's currently one on at the Design Museum in London (ends Nov 26 - if you don't have the opportunity to go the site is pretty informative) or perhaps buy Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935 - 2005.
Personally I've found that picking up an actual copy from a charity shop or second hand bookshop is vastly superior if it's inspiration you're looking for - maybe it's the authenticity and craftmanship compared with just a glossy reproduced image.

It's interesting how much more inspiring book covers from 20, 30, 50 years ago are to the ones today - even the most trivial cheap paperback seems to have a more thought-through and well-executed design then most of the ones today. I don't know what it is - perhaps just the ease with which they can technically be produced today - but book covers seem sadly to have gone the same way as album covers.

Luckily today you seem still able to find this kind of inspiration from Artist Books or from some select small press publishers. In London you can go to the excellent bookartbookshop or visit the London Artists Book Fair (this year 3–5 Nov 2006 at the ICA in London). Their website is not much fun, but the book fair never fail to inspire - you can pick up works from small presses, makers of book art, art university graduates, art bookshops, and more - fantastic!

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