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Book Design

The New York Times Reveals Best Book Covers of 2014

agirlThe New York Times has chosen their favorite book covers giving some much deserved praise to book designers.

Among the books that earned the honor are: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, which was designed by Chip KiddA Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride with a design by W. H. Chong; and Your Face in Mine by Jess Row with a design by Oliver Munday.

Here is more from The Times:

What is the value of a book cover if fewer and fewer people shop at bookstores? I used to browse St. Mark’s Bookshop looking for covers that caught my eye. It was an exciting way to discover new authors, and design played a huge role. Now, one increasingly encounters books through social media or online recommendations, and the role of the designer might, at first glance, seem diminished.

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Jeff Koons Designs Cover For New Brian Grazer Book

briangrazerSimon & Schuster has revealed the cover image for Brian Grazer’s new book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. Artist Jeff Koons created the design for the Academy Award–winning producer’s book.

“When we began discussing a design for the jacket of my book, Jeff Koons was the first person I thought of,” said Grazer in a statement. “His pieces have always spoken to me – they are suffused with positivity. My curiosity conversation with him was one of the earliest and most memorable I’ve had, and I remember being especially struck by how generous and genuinely interested he was, in everything. Curiosity is a very natural thing for him – it is the foundation of his work, and his energy as a human being.”

The book, which was written in collaboration with business journalist Charles Fishman, features Grazer’s weekly “curiosity conversations” which have inspired his filmmaking.

Designing Denis Johnson’s ‘The Laughing Monsters’ Cover

Denis Johnson's manuscript binder inspired the cover design

Denis Johnson’s manuscript binder inspired the cover design

In the Huffington Post series “Rejected Covers,” Rodrigo Corral–the designer behind a slew of recognizable covers for books by Gary Shteyngart, Chuck Palahniuk and Junot Díaz—shares the creation process behind the cover for Denis Johnson’s new book, The Laughing Monsters.

Johnson, a National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, had created a manuscript cover that served as inspiration. Corral described it:

“His sketch is what I like to think of as three-quarters Basquiat, one-quarter ninth grade geometry class. I love the two joyful skulls–violent and rapturous somehow with their grins and sharpened teeth. Denis also suggested that we take a look at the paintings of Ronald Sloan, an outsider artist who creates macabre, almost Goya-esque paintings. These images were menacing in a lot of ways, but there was almost a childlike regard to that danger, a joy in the face of it.”

The designers experimented with Basquiat’s work and more traditional African imagery for contrast, in the end going with Johnson’s skulls because they captured the duality of humor tinged by death. Gold was used to reference the “get rich quick” aspects of the plot.

Corral told HuffPo, “The final cover is one that I hope conveys just how unsettling this book is and that nothing that transpires is ever black and white. Denis said it best to his editor here: ‘I’m not trying to be Graham Greene. I think I actually am Graham Greene.’”

 

The final cover design for "The Laughing Monsters"

The final cover design for “The Laughing Monsters”

3D Printed Storybooks For Visually Impaired Children

3dprintedbookResearchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have designed a series of children’s books for the visually impaired.

U-Boulder’s Tactile Picture Books Project uses 3D printing technology to turn classic children’s books including Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and Harold and Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon into books with three dimensional tactile experiences.

Colorado.edu has more: “The main idea is to represent 2D graphics in a 3D, tactile way on a scale appropriate for the cognitive abilities and interests of young children, said Yeh. The team combines this information with computational algorithms — essentially step-by-step instructions for mathematical calculations — providing an interface that allows parents, teachers and supporters to print their own customized picture books using 3D computers.” (Via Electric Literature).

NY Artist Carves Books Into Beautiful Sculptures

dettmerNew York-based artist Brian Dettmer uses old books to create beautiful sculptures. Dettmer uses knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve up the pages of a book. He does not add or move around content from the book, he only removes items to create new meanings with the page.

Here is more about the book from his artist’s statement: “The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge.”

Dettmer is not alone is using books as a medium for art. Julia Strand and Mike Stillkey also work with old books in their creations.

Penguin UK Reveals New Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Cover Design

charlie-the-chocolate-factory-pmc-667x1024bPenguin UK has redesigned the cover of Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the book.

Here is more about the redesign from the publisher’s blog: “This new image for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life, ready for Charlie’s debut amongst the adult titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series.”

Some people responded negatively to the new cover on Twitter. Read more

Harvard Experts Confirm That Book Really Was Bound With Human Skin

harvardlibraryExperts at Harvard have confirmed that Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de lame is bound in human skin. They are 99 percent sure that their tests are correct.

Here is more about the tests from the Harvard blog: “Microscopic samples were taken from various locations on the binding, and were analyzed by peptide mass fingerprinting, which identifies proteins to create a “peptide mass fingerprint” (PMF) allowing analysts to identify the source.”

The university also concluded that two other books which were suspected to be made of human skin were actually bound in sheepskin.

Water is Life Designs Book That Can Filter Water

Nonprofit Water is Life has a new book available that not only educates readers on safe water drinking tips, but also acts as a tool to purify water and kill deadly waterborne diseases.

The Drinkable Book” is designed to educate people who are unaware of the risks of contaminated water and at the same time serve as a functional object that can help readers do something about it. The book uses technology invented by chemists at Carnegie Mellon University.

We’ve embedded a video with more details above.

Harvard Discovers Old Library Books Bound in Human Skin

harvardlibraryHarvard University has discovered three books in its collection are bound in human hide.

The details make it sound more like the elements of a novel than of real life. One book was found in the Langdell Law Library, another in the Countway Library of Medicine, and yet another in the Houghton Collection. One book deals with medieval law, another Roman poetry and the other French philosophy. The book Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… doesn’t jump out as bound in human flesh, as The Harvard Crimson reports. Check it out:

The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’

(Via Reddit)

J.R.R Tolkien in Modern Advertising

oneringtoruleValerio Amaro, a student at Miami Ad School Berlin, has created a Tumblr blog that combines her two passions: advertising and The Lord of the Rings.

She has taken text from J.R.R. Tolkien novels and adapted them into ads for consumers products including cars, mouth wash and condoms. She explains her idea on the site, “I wanted to find a way to combine them, so i asked myself ‘What would happen if J.R.R Tolkien worked in advertising?’”

Follow this link to explore her creations.

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