Sunday, 13 May 2012

I bought a new book.

As the title would suggest, I did indeed get a new book the other day. It's Claude Lauzmann's memoir The Patagonian Hare. I'm very excited to read this, he's had quite an interesting life. Lauzmann, for most, is known as the director of the nine and a half hour documentary Shoah (Hebrew term for Holocaust). Very full on subject, and very long documentary. What many people don't know is he was also great friends with Jean-Paul Sartre, a lover of Simone de Beauvoir, and a member of the French Resistance at 16. I heard about the book from this article with him by The Guardian. Any who, this is about the design of this book, which I think is beautiful and traditional. 

I'm not sure if anyone's read my previous posts, but I've mentioned before that I love auto/biographies/memoirs. There's just something about a person letting you in to their life that gets me.
Clothed, Farrar, Straus and Giroux NY, 2012,
designed by Jennifer Carrow.
Click on the images for a better view.
The yellow spine with black writing would definitely strike the eye if this was stuck on a bookshelf - which would be a tragedy (I special ordered it, I'm not sure how many book stores will have it in stock). The picture comes from Lanzmann's own collection, and uses his writing for his name and the title. He's even drawn FSG's logo by hand on the spine. So we have yellow, black and white, and a dark grey on the back, where white text tells us of the praise for The Patagonian Hare, which is high and why I wanted it. The layout is simple and not crowded, making it easy on the eye. Also having the title in the yellow circle is an easy way for the designer to get around having text on an image, and draws the eye to find out what this book is.

The naked version of the book is so simple, I find it just as striking as the dust jacket. On a light grey, we again have Lanzmann's handwriting telling us the name, and nothing else. I enjoy the layout of this also, keeping the text running down the spine changes is up nicely from the dust jacket, and means we lazy readers don't need to move our head or book to read it. Win, win.

Text block. Taken with my phone, the black marks on the left aren't on the book.
So I might be biased because I can't wait to get stuck into this book, but I really think it's beautifully designed in every way. The chapters have no titles, and are indicated by very simple headings as seen to the left.  I'm a fan of spacing on a page (white space is not evil people!), and the layout of this is great. The text block sits closer to the centre of the book and slightly higher on the page, giving it a more traditional feel with wider margins. I think the text is simple and easy to read, the running headers give the title and author's name, and each chapter starts with a two line drop cap. The typeface in a nice and easy to read serif, nothing too fancy. The simplicity is beautiful.

Image, just one. Lonely, you might say.
Now to pictures. This whole book only has one picture inside, which is shown here. This surprised me, but I'll survive. The image is black and white, sits in the same place the text block does, and is explained in the text on the facing page. The text finishes about halfway down the page and says "This is it:", guiding you to the picture. The thing I enjoy the most about this is there's no attempt to keep the text running on that page, or to cram the image on to it to save room. The image is important, clearly, and the author and designer wanted to make it stand out. The story does carry on from that point, and probably could have had the text run on; the choice not to is a great one in my opinion.

I'm excited for this book, and have no doubt you'll read all about the content when I've finished it.

More scrapbooking to come soon.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Book Design Scrapbook

An assignment for my course this year is keeping a scrapbook of book designs. This includes everything from the cover image to the binding to running headers to the use of images. In an effort to not print off copious amounts of colour images, I've chosen the digital format for my scrapbook - obviously. I'll be nice to some books, and slightly mean to others, but only if I really don't like them. Apologies in advance if anyone takes great offence to what I write. Hopefully I don't bore you all to death, and feel free to comment on any of them!
I figured the best way to start any scrapbook about books is to start with my favourite one. And yes, it is The Catcher in the Rye. Don't be mean. Holden helped me through some tough times in 7th form.
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Little, Brown, 1951. Cover design by E. Michael Mitchell, author photo by Lotte Jacobi.
\Click on the images for a better view.
This is the first Book Club Edition of Catcher. Apparently Salinger asked for the photo to be removed from the back, and subsequent printing does indeed lack this. I like the idea of a picture of the author being somewhere in the book, and this photo of Salinger is a really nice one. However, considering his actions towards the public throughout his life it's not surprising he did.
I'm a big fan of this design. The cover image and spine easily catch the eye with the bright red and yellow, and anyone that has read the book will understand the significance of the carousal horseThe red and yellow are a theme in other editions - one of mine (published 1984) is a very plain red cover with the title in yellow. The use of a serif font for the text makes it easy to read, as well stand out.
The edition in most book shops around town at the moment is shown below.
Published by Penguin, 1994. Thanks to Mum for her excellent holding of the book.
I enjoy this design too. I feel it reflects the original design with the colours, and the faint lines reflect on the narrative style of the book. The very basic serif typeface that's used is perfect, just like in the top example. It mirrors the inside content as a narrative, and makes it so easy to read and follow. The more simple design of this (and other editions) of Catcher are a note on the popularity of the book, I feel. People will pick up this book not only because it has a simple yet eye-catching design, but also because of the title. Most people know of Catcher, whether they've read it or not.
The other edition I own of it is plain silver. Just silver. This was the first copy I read after Dad gave it to me, and the plain cover didn't bother me - I just wanted to read the book that supposedly killed John Lennon.

This post is slightly longer than most will be, but it will feature good and not so good designs. Feel free to give me any suggestions!