I’m smitten. Design has always been a passion. All things: buildings, landscapes, kitchen utensils, printed material, the list goes on. It all captivates and inspires me. I guess I’m just a frustrated designer at heart. I also love magazines. Few things are more exciting for me than to sit down with a stack of Architectural Digest, Country Life, Inc. magazines.
I’ve been talking to friends lately about how unimpressed I am by book design these days, save for a few books here and there. The other day I was paging through a magazine and stumbled across the work of Coralie Bickford-Smith. Bickford-Smith has redesigned the Penguin Classics line with a whole new series of hard covers that are a wonder to behold and hold. Gorgeous cloth covers, wonderful paper, exquisite ribbon marker.
As a bookseller and bookbinder it is nice to see some attention to quality these days. I believe that Penguin has actually hit on one strategy that may pan out in the positive in this day and age of “the-sky-is-falling, e-books-will-crush-us” mentality that seems to permeate the industry. Nothing replaces the heft of a book, the feel of the page, the dance of light off of a well chosen paper, appropriate design of the cover, endpapers, typeface and placement on the page. That is the future of the physical book, as it always should have been. The future is not in pumping up the media circus over the back story about the latest author who found themselves in the back forty growing vegetables after and ill-fated career on Wall Street or how reality-series celebrity can help you with your love life or manage your business. The future, as it always has been, is in the content and how it is delivered.