Wrapped Up in Books

I finished War and Peace today and am feeling very accomplished indeed...in that case, the grandeur of the story itself more than justified the lackluster cover. Or so I tell myself.

Most people think of books simply as receptacles of learning, but those with a more visually attuned sensibility know that they can be quite beautiful aesthetic objects on their own merit. Illuminated manuscripts are a perfect example of this - my favorite being the stupendously beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels (I would highly recommend clicking here.)

More recent book design can also be wonderful, no matter the price. Penguin's classic design for its Penguin Classics series has been revitalized in an unexpected way, to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary last year.

Last summer when I was in London, I was delighted to find an array of products manufactured in celebration of this anniversary, which seemed intentionally geared to tug my bookworm purse strings.

Products include beach chairs, book bags (hah!), mugs and tea towels. Get yours at the Bloomsbury Store and Pedlars.

Three books related to this subject are sitting patiently on my wishlist at Amazon:
Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005
By Its Cover: Modern American Book Cover Design, by Ned Drew
Chip Kidd: Book One: Work 1986-2006, by Chip Kidd

If you're still feeling dubious about the whole "judging a book by its cover" thing, I would definitely recommend a daily gorging of The Book Design Review.
Doctor's orders.

Since I'm feeling particularly bookish today, expect a follow-up on some of the very special things that go on inside of books. Maybe tomorrow. I have a new book to start, after all.

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Anonymous Jessica said...

I have this thing for book covers and textures and the way they make those covers now that are smooth with a matte finish. I love the new covers that are coming out recently, so stylized and beautiful.

April 30, 2007 at 2:11 PM  

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