Archive for the 'Books' Category

Saturday Shelves: Celebrities Sell Books

The Barnes and Noble new book list is depressing… Not only are TV and movie actresses the only people getting book deals anymore, well, I guess their ghost writer technically also get a book deal, they are now the only authority on cooking and “family”/”togetherness”/”wholesomeness”/”love”/”lovinglivingmyorganiclifestyle”.

Cookbooks used to feature food on the cover.. Just notice the amount of emphasis placed on actual food on the cover of Gwyneth Platrow and Eva Longoria’s books – their trim celebrity bodies take up 60% the cover, whereas the food is demoted to about 10% . Both seem to be specializing in generic carbohydrate dishes (Noodles for Eva, pasta for Gwyneth) with some unused lemons and basil placed beside it. It must be completely disheartening for a struggling writer or chef to see that the quickest way to come successful in their field is to appear in episodes of Glee or Desperate Housewives. I’m not saying these books are terrible – I haven’t read any of them – but can we please stop the ridiculous belief that because someone is famous they are able to do anything.

Friendly serifs are the typeface of choice, presumably to make it look a little more traditional and old-timely.. I’m actually surprised the kitchens are as modern as they are, I thought they’d be playing up the little country kitchen vibe a bit more.

I realise that as chefs like Jamie Oliver and Rachael Ray become celebrities in their own right, they also feature more prominently on their covers. But they were also just chefs at some point and have a large amount of knowledge in their field. Please everyone, buy a cookbook from someone who actual studied culinary arts, not just someone who has been able to afford a nutritionist for most of the movie career.


Cool Comic Covers (…or are they graphic novels?)

As I promised on Monday, I took some pictures of comics and graphic novels that I think have a really cool aesthetic. I can’t claim to be an expert in the field, I’m choosing these based completely on how they look, so I can’t vouch for the story-lines  I tend to be drawn to the more indie graphic novels than Japanese magna styles, but that’s purely a personal preference. I like the strong, definite lines and block colours, which are often kind of unusual or muted.  Enjoy!

The first was one called Tonoharu by Lars Martinson. I love the beige hardback cover and the little melancholic  face along the spin. The illustrations are all in black and white and are very precise and controlled so I like that the title page has a map on it because the overall style reminds me of the detail-orientated accuracy involved in map making. I like that the narration and speech is all done in an actual typeface, instead of illustrated. I’d never seen that before.

The second one is called The Squirrel Mother by Megan Kelso. Megan Kelso has a brilliant, funky website called Girl Hero that I recommend you check out! I just noticed that the person on this cover looks a little melancholy too, maybe that was just my temperament yesterday! But I love all the little details; the jam sandwich, the weed growing under the stone. It really adds a lot of personality to a very simple cover. I also like how the comic looks like shots from a movie, changing from mid-shot to extreme close-up while keeping the story moving.

If anyone who actually has a good knowledge of graphic novels or comics would like to add any, please comment below!

Albums as Book Covers

Check out What if Your Favourite Alnum was a Book on
This must have been a fun project to work on. I wonder will they do the reverse..

Books as Furniture

Last week at D-Crit, the wonderful Virginia Heffernan came to give a public lecture. She spoke about many things, but one interesting point she made while discussing the benefits of e-readers is that she believes for years people have confused “bibliophilia” with literacy.  I have to agree. It’s pretty common for people who almost never cook to own a huge number of cookbooks.  Then again, I’m quite divided on this topic..  I feel uncomfortable with the idea of people buying hundreds of books to simply decorate their homes, but never bothering to read any of them. Then again, I believe the publishing industry is important and needs our support. Also, buying books is a pretty cheap and fun way to collect some great design objects.

So I was divided on Abe Book’s list of  30 Old Books Worth Buying For the Cover Alone’. list of books worth buying for their cover. But they all are quite beautiful, and clearly a lot of  people agree because because almost the whole list has been sold.

Surprisingly, even though they’re trying to sell the books based on the beautiful covers, the photography is quite poor quality…

The website also compiled a more contemporary list of books. This one by Emma Wallace for ‘The Separation’ by Christopher  is my favorite. I cannot believe she was allowed by the client to exclude both the author and book title in her design! But the simplicity makes it look so striking that I know I’d pick up a copy in a book shop.

And when you collect enough (or too many!), you can always use them for furniture. These tables are from a book shop in Melbourne (that I somehow never went to even though I lived not far from it!) called Brunswick Bound. If you live nearby, go check it out!

Check out some more ideas for tables made using books on Shelterpop !

Sex, Cars and Rock n Roll: What scores on the New York Times Best Seller List

Wow, it’s certainly quite a male-oriented week on the NY Times Best Seller List , judging by the overs of the #1 fiction and non-fiction anyway. I almost admire the confidence of these covers; they certainly know who their target market is!

Non fiction:

Again we’re seeing this scatchy pattern on the sans serif typography. Poor ol’ Joel Selvin, he is almost camouflaged into the hip, angular red text in the background. And since rockstars aren’t always known for their articulation, I suspect he had his work cut out for him.


“The one with the most toys … dies” Huh? Seriously, you’re using the “….” thing? It tagline sounds like an old Goosebumps book .

The Plague, destroyed

Most of the time I don’t like when book covers get ruined or destroyed, but there is something eerily beautiful about this cover of ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus. There’s such a huge amount of fake “worn” book covers, usually created with photoshop filters to make it look more smudged, worn or scratched, but this is the real deal and it’d be hard to fake. This worn quality of the book makes it look even more interesting, textural and exciting: “a perfect achievement” indeed.

This book has been used over and over again to the point of near-destruction, but at least it’s been loved, hated and used. I like it more than a pristine design coffee table book that nobody ever opens for fear or ruining it.

book art object review

This recent acquisition to the SVA library collection has been catching my eye everywhere recently including at the Whitney Museum book shop and the Strand. As a lover of art books and book design in general, I found it hard not to look inside. But I promise that I didn’t.

I have no doubt in my mind that this is a book made by designers for designers. From the title, I’m guessing it’ll purely be a picture book of art books – beautiful embossed covers, unusual folds and bindings. I suspect it will be fascinating for anyone who loves book design, and completely uninteresting for anyone who does not. There’s an sense of knowingness from the title and cover, verging on pretentious. The designer has used a purely typographic cover but the ligature of the ct adds a nice visual element.

Unfortunately, the matte cover seems to wear easily..