Beautifully Briefed 24.5: On Into Summer

This time, we welcome the start of summer with a selection of photography and book design items — with, as usual, a couple of bonuses. Oh, and a computer item with its own “bonus.” The Summer of Joy starts now.

SteerMouse

Like many who spend a ton of time mousing, my production Mac sports an aftermarket pointing device: a Logitech MX Master 3S. It’s a great mouse: ergonomic, covered in button options, and with a freewheeling scroll wheel that makes both design and surfing a joy.

Unfortunately, Logitech’s software doesn’t live up to the hardware’s promise. I’m certainly not alone in thinking this way, but like many, I’d resigned myself to living with it . . . with one glaring, continually-irksome exception: over the years, they’d actually removed a regularly-used feature.

There’s something significant missing from the available options. (Logitech.com screen capture.)

That’s right — there is no way to reprogram the two main buttons. They’re a single click (left) and a command/control click (right), whether you want ’em that way or not. Most of the time, I don’t.

It’s fine for surfing, sure, and for other applications as well. But for book design, not so much. The right button has to be a double-click. That way, word, sentence, paragraph and section selections are readily available through a combination of first- and middle-finger clicks. Sure, they could be assigned to the side buttons (4 and 5, above), but if you’ll forgive me mangling an analogy, race drivers don’t try to get their feet on the door handles when clutching.

Thankfully, while sitting in a tire shop the other day — speaking of driving — I was making the wait more palatable by listening to Accidental Tech Podcast, wherein Steven Hackett’s post on Logitech software was briefly mentioned. And the clouds parted.

Okay, sure, it was technically unrelated. But he’s trying SteerMouse — and that’s all the recommendation I needed:

It may not look as flashy, but it’s the content that counts. Kudos.

My double-click is back! Quality independent software, highly recommended.

Special Bonus #1: From another chapter of less-than-ideal software, Adobe continues to flub the landing. PetaPixel has been on their case in a significant way, with Adobe Says AI is the New Digital Camera, Adobe’s CEO is Just Not on the Same Wavelength as Artists, Adobe Throws Photographers Under the Bus Again: ‘Skip the Photoshoot’, and ASMP Calls Out Adobe for Its ‘Shocking Dismissal of Photography’. Whew.

A Couple Library of Congress Photographs

Speaking of PetaPixel, they’ve posted a story on someone retiring from what seems like a great way to spend a career: “The Prints and Photographs collection in the Library of Congress number more than 15 million images. Maintaining the archive is a big job and a retiring librarian has picked her favorite pictures after working there for 34 years. [Read] Jan Grenci’s final blog post.”

Even the cats know the refrigerators contain plenty of food at the Casa Grande Farms. Pinal County, Arizona. Photo by Russell Lee, 1940.
Two pigeons on a ledge with a view of the Chrysler Building in the background. Photo by Angelo Rizzuto. June 1957.

The LOC’s Picture This has a plethora of great posts, and 15 million photographs is a great way to pass a rainy afternoon (or two). Enjoy.

Special Bonus #2: From the archives comes another PetaPixel post on Getty’s Open Content Program, with its 87,000 free-to-use photographs: “Add a print of your favorite Dutch still life to your gallery wall or create a shower curtain using the Irises by Van Gogh — the possibilities are endless,” Getty explains.

Kirkus: 20 Books that Should Be Bestsellers

Kottke points us to a Kirkus Reviews post, 20 Books that Should be Bestsellers. Some good book design here:

Both of the above have been added to my “potential best covers” folder (without designer attribution, alas); the former for what I’d call “the quintessential 2024 style,” and the latter for the quintessential book cover purpose: fantastic type treatment and compelling imagery combined with the-question-that-has-to-be-answered. (“The seven-hundred-year-old bones of Saint Nicholas […] weep a mysterious liquid that can heal the sick,” Amazon explains.) Good stuff.

There’s also this, which isn’t quite up to the above but still interesting:

…with its box o’ quotes on Amazon:

Nice.

Special Bonus #3: Chip Kidd has been promoted: “VP and art director at Knopf and graphic editor at Pantheon.” Few are more deserving, as the long list of accomplishments on his Wiki page attests.

A couple of faves from “Good is Dead,” a selection of book covers he’s designed:

Cover design by Chip Kidd.
Cover design by Chip Kidd.

And, of course, Naked, in this post’s cover image. Kudos.

Special Bonus #4: One the subject of great designers, this film on Charles and Ray Eames was a winner. (It’s from 2011, but was new to me — and hopefully you, too.) Watch when you can:

YouTube won’t allow me to embed this, unfortunately — click the link above to view.

Special Bonus #5: The lede-of-the-day award: “Do all book covers look the same today? Euronews Culture goes under the dust cover with those that design them.”

The interesting thing here is a discussion of risk — ’cause, of course, in today’s culture, a book cover alone can result in a title getting cancelled banned — revolving around things, um, yellow:

One of my favorite covers of 2023, still without a cover designer attribution. (Darn.)

Special Bonus #6: Penguin Books reveals the Cover Design Award 2024 shortlist, a contest for non-professionals to take a crack at Penguin greatness. (Via CreativeBoom.) My favorite:

Cover design by Charlotte Gill.

Beautifully Briefed 24.3: Bloomin’ Breadth

The end of March here in Middle Georgia means flowers aplenty, and usually with that, some photography — but I’ve not yet had a chance. (Stay tuned.) I have, however, been saving up links o’ interest: fonts, books, photography, and new(ish) car logos. Let’s go!

Kottke Meets 2024

Starting with one of the very few places that is still around from Foreword’s old days, the always-interesting Jason Kottke:

2024 marks Kottke.org’s 26th year on the ’net.

Great new looks for great content, with better Quick Links — the previews are ace — and incredibly-appreciated gift links to places like The New York Times and The Atlantic. If you haven’t been in a while, click and enjoy.

Fab Spring Type

With “a plethora of captivating new typefaces,” CreativeBoom celebrates spring with 11 new faces to tempt, inspire, and bring joy:

Arillatype.Studio brings us a thousand glyphs of greatness.

Zanco, with its bell-bottom style; Seabirds, inspired by 1930s book covers; Module, a “fluke side hustle;” and Graffeur, improvised from gaffer tape and glimpsed in this post’s header image, are all great. My far-and-away favorite, though, is At Briega, “inspired by the concept of hybridisation” and shown above.

See ’em all here.

Literary Three-Fer
M.C. Escher’s Lesser-Known Works
“The Drowned Cathedral,” a 1929 woodcut.

“Unique perspective” never does justice to someone whose name defines the term. See some never-before-seen images alongside old favorites in a new Escher book highlighted at Hyperallergic.

Multidimensional Libri

“Experimental books are flourishing, [a]nd the evidence is seen” in this Daily Heller from PRINT: a traveling exhibition on three-dimensional books, all published titles.

Oh, those Italians. Read on.

Book Design Snobbery
Hoover vs. Atwood — no joke.

“Don’t get held back from the simple pleasures of reading,” argues Natalie Fear at CreativeBloq, “not everything needs to be minimalist.” Justification for commercialism or a common-sense explanation for the bookshelves’ current look? You decide.

Photography Three-Fer
Winners of Monochromatic Minimalism
“Black Pearl” by Sascha Kohne. An honorable mention for the magazine, but a winner for me.

Some incredibly good stuff here — but perhaps more importantly, did you know of Black & White Minimalism Magazine? There’s no end to today’s continued diversification, methinks.

“Traveling through Costa da Morte, Galicia. 600m above sea level where the mountains separate the Cantabria sea from the Atlantic Ocean,” explains third-place winner Alexandre Caetano.
Aging Facades of France

“Shuttered blinds, peeling paint, and aging doors don’t usually indicate an invitation, but for French photographer Thibaut Derien, the fading facades of long-closed shops are well worth a stop,” This is Colossal says.

Sony Photography Awards: Architecture
The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) in Valencia, Spain: “Hemispheric,” by Eng Tong Tan, Malaysia.

ArchDaily‘s coverage of the annual Sony awards shortlist announcement was an insta-click.

New Bull: Now Flat. (And a BMW.)

Lamborghini practically defines flamboyant. So it’s worth a link when their logo gets less interesting:

Old logo, left, new, right.

Late at following the industry trend of flat-is-better, because, well, Volkswagen. (Okay, I undersell. Perhaps.) Read the lack of news at Motor11Motor1 also has a decent roundup of new car logos, from 2016-present, which underscores the “flatness” trend. or The Drive, where they manage to convey the brand’s use of the phrase “digital touchpoints.”

I don’t know whether this will make any more sense in a few or even many months — which is relevant because of BMW. Four years ago, one of the industry’s design leaders expressed strong this new style, and I didn’t get it. But it’s worn better than most, and superlatively on occasion — check out the logo’s use on the Vision Neue Klasse X:

Rather than a standalone, plastic part sitting on the paint, it’s etched into the finish. Man, I hope that makes it into production.

Neue Klasse: do like. Bull? No so much.

Update, 2 April: BrandNew, itself sporting a new look, has weighed in on the new Lambo style, calling it “not good.” (FYI, BrandNew is a subscription, quite possibly the best $20/year someone interested in design can spend.)

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    Motor1 also has a decent roundup of new car logos, from 2016-present, which underscores the “flatness” trend.

Beautifully Briefed 24.2: February Favorites

This time, book design times two, book cutouts, album covers, and a reflection on my 2023 photographs. It’s one of those Februaries, so let’s leap into it.

Jodi Hunt’s Great British Design
Screen print by Kate Gibb, lettering by Jodi Hunt, and photograph by Adaeze Okaro.

You might recognize the above book cover from my 2023 Favorite Book Covers post, a fantastic series of choices that speak to all colors while definitively saying, “Black.” It’s Nice That has a short post talking about Jodi Hunt, who designer that cover — and more.

Design by Jodi Hunt.

The screen printing is prominent here, too, and the interaction between that and title are, to borrow a Britishism, “ace.” And the below, with its slightly haunting image treatment (and that great text, lower left), also earns kudos:

Design by Jodi Hunt.

Great design, deservedly highlighted. See the other examples here.

The original Book Design
Ernest Lefébure, Embroidery and Lace: Their Manufacture and History from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Day (1888), with binding created by May Morris

Before there was book design, or even graphic design — that is, when books and pages were thought of as art instead of design — folks were still coming up with great book covers. The Grolier Club, “America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts,” has a wonderful exhibit of cover design . . . made up exclusively of antiques.

Lynd Ward, Gods’ Man: A Novel in Woodcuts, 1929, and Madman’s Drum: A Novel in Woodcuts, 1930.

One of the most memorable artworks […] is a sumptuous but comparatively delicate volume, a 1643 book of psalms created in London. Atmospheric exposure usually turns white silk-bound editions tan and brown, but this cover is a shiny cream color. The polychrome silk and gold metallic threads, which wind around one another to form a colorful floral pattern, maintain an eye-catching vibrancy. The only sign of the book’s age is the oxidized silver “stumpwork,” a type of raised embroidery that in this case resembles beading.

Elaine Velie, Hyperallergic

The quote above refers to the book in this month’s cover image, second from left, and is but one where what you see isn’t necessarily what you think it is — it’s more complex, more interesting, made with what the artist had available in the day. Great reminders, all, that book design has a much longer history than what we think of when we hear the term.

Check out that Hyperallergic article, another on This is Colossal, or, if you’re near NYC, go to the exhibit at the Grolier, 66th and Park. If, like me, you’re not able to visit in person, give them props for also posting the exhibit online.

Books Manufacture Realities

“Meticulous incisions and methodical folding allow scenes to arise from aged books and color swatches in Thomas Allen’s paper cutouts,” This is Colossal notes — but a picture is worth a thousand words:

Timber by Thomas Allen.

The vintage paperback work happened by complete accident. I was cutting into a pulp novel one afternoon with the intent of removing the illustration completely when I noticed that if I left some areas attached, folded the parts carefully, and looked at them from a single vantage point so that everything aligned, they created the illusion of 3D pop-ups. Everything snowballed from there.

— Thomas Allen, via This is Colossal
The three-hour cutout: Shipwreck, by Thomas Allen.

Here’s his desk — whoa:

Test cutouts in Allen’s studio, via This is Colossal.

The article is a must-read. Awesome stuff.

The Article’s Great — but the Headline is the Point.

“Virality over Creativity.” Few things summarize the last few years more — it’s always about getting eyeballs, not about truth or quality. It’s satisfying the algorithm. Because, of course, these days, media is social.

Real or AI?

POV, a new series of articles from It’s Nice That examines, in this case, creativity and AI in design for the music industry. “If an artist isn’t putting a piece of themselves and their experience into the work,” it asks, “why should anyone care?”

All valid questions, yes. But it’s the headline that provides another potential word of the year: virality.

The times we live in . . . .

Some of my Favorite 2023 Photographs

I’ve updated my photography page with my favorites of 2023, including these two:

Blue Against Blue Against Blue, 943 Ellis St.

The above, taken in Augusta, is architecture that doesn’t make me feel blue, while the below, taken on the main street in Sparta, does:

Bulb Moment, 12745 Broad St.

A couple of reflections: I didn’t get out as much as I did in 2022, and regret it, and have somehow pretty much eschewed both black-and-white and effects (film grain, light leaks, etc.), and kind of regret that, too. Both things to do differently in 2024.

That said, six years after investing in a different style of photography, I’m settling in — and looking forward to the future. I hope you are, too.

University Press Design Show 2023

As I mentioned in the recent Favorite Book Covers post, I totally missed the ’23 Association of University Presses Design Show in July, 2023 — which is their best-of from 2022 — and I’d like to highlight some of the great book design. Let’s catch up.

“Our selections ended up evoking an array of responses,” said [Jayme] Yen, [Juror]. “As book designers, some books made us professionally jealous—we wish we had designed those! As designers-who-collect-books, we took notes about the books we wanted to purchase later. As readers, there were books that we lingered over for longer than absolutely necessary, the text and typography luring us in and making us forget all else.” 

Jayme Yen, AUPresses Design Show Juror

This show is a favorite because more than just the covers are brought to the fore — interior design on books is, in my opinion, the unsung hero of print and publishing. Of course, there are more than a few covers to discuss, too.

AUPresses lists designers in with their winning designs, which I’ve included in the captions below. Any errors are mine.

They also separate the awards into categories. Let’s start with a couple from Scholarly Typographic:

Duke University Press. Cover design by A. Mattson Gallagher.
Duke University Press. Interior design by A. Mattson Gallagher.

Great effect on the cover image — not an easy subject for that part of the world, handled with grace — and bonus points for a beautifully interesting contents page, an area often neglected.

Also:

Louisiana State University Press. Cover design by Andrew Shurtz.

I haven’t seen this one in person, so not sure whether the texture is in the paper or the illustration (or both), but either way, this cover design delights.

Let’s move on to Scholarly Illustrated, and this interesting title:

University of British Columbia Press. Jacket design by Michel Vrana.
University of British Columbia Press. Title page design by Michel Vrana.
University of British Columbia Press. Interior design by Michel Vrana.
University of British Columbia Press. Interior design by Michel Vrana.

Another winning contents page — this time paired with an interesting cover, great title page, and interior design up to the standards set by these pioneering women. Only question: they couldn’t get a woman to design the title?

From Trade Typographic, we have:

University of Chicago Press. Jacket design by Jill Shimabukuro.
University of Chicago Press. Title page design by Jill Shimabukuro.

That jacket is fantastic: I love a design that wraps the spine onto the front (and, in this case, back) cover. Kudos.

From Trade Illustrated, some wooden type:

University of Texas Press. Jacket design by David Shields.
University of Texas Press. Interior design by David Shields.

From Poetry and Literature, we have an all-time favorite, redone with remarkable aplomb:

Princeton University Press. Cover design by Chris Ferrante, illustrated by Alenka Sottler.
Princeton University Press. Title page design by Chris Ferrante, illustrated by Alenka Sottler.
Princeton University Press. Interior design by Chris Ferrante, illustrated by Alenka Sottler.
Princeton University Press. Illustrated by Alenka Sottler.

I can’t speak highly enough of the talent and style on display in these illustrations, complimented with great book design. Fantastic.

From the Journals category:

American Historical Association. Cover design by Paul Carlos.
American Historical Association. Interior design by Paul Carlos.

That cover photograph — wow — combined with a full-color interior that’s really well done. Great stuff.

From the Reference category, we have three, starting with a local favorite:

University of Georgia Press. Interior design by Mindy Basinger Hill.
University of Georgia Press. Interior design by Mindy Basinger Hill.
University of Georgia Press. Interior design by Mindy Basinger Hill.

The more data, the more charts, the more fuss, the harder it is to do well. Another title handled in a way that invites the reader to enjoy — nice.

University of New Mexico Press. Cover design by Mindy Basinger Hill.

The interior of this book is good, but the cover, with its natural-paper-as-sky really works for me. (I do wish the author’s name were a little more prominent.)

University of New Mexico Press. Title page design by Mindy Basinger Hill.
University of New Mexico Press. Interior design by Mindy Basinger Hill.

Killer title page with aged, map-based listings. Nice.

We round out with several selections from the big one: the Book Jackets and Covers category:

Duke University Press. Cover design by Matthew Tauch.

Great photograph complimented by fantastic use of color and geometry.

Gallaudet University. Cover design by Eric Wilder.

Next-level simple, with good typography and color.

McGill and Queen’s University Press. Cover design by David Drummond.

Next-next-level simple, with the best drop shadows I’ve seen recently. Great stuff.

McGill and Queen’s University Press. Cover design by David Drummond.

Same designer as the previous title, and perhaps similar in style, but handled well while still being distinctive.

Princeton University Press. Cover design by Kari Spurzem.

Life is short. Go though the door while you can.

University of Alabama Press. Cover design by Lori Lynch.

This could have been handled any one of a trillion ways — ’bout the number of breakfasts served — but this one is interesting and respectful. Bonus points for the phrase, “Southern Imaginary.”

University of Chicago Press. Jacket design by Rae Ganci Hammers.

Love this, from background to foreground, with bonus points for a back flap not filled to the brim. As I recall, this one was a runner-up for last year’s favorite covers list.

University of Iowa Press. Jacket design by Derek Thornton.

While we’re on the subject, this one not only made the cut for my 2022 Favorite Book Covers, but was in my top three. Great, great stuff, shown here both front and back.

University of Minnesota Press. Cover design by Catherine Casalino.

Jumping right off the top of the cover — perfect. (Great use of color, too.)

University of Pittsburgh Press. Cover design by Joel W. Coggins.

Interesting, compelling choice with the illustration. Bonus points for monospace, typewriter-style title, complimented with the callout. Nice.

University of Texas Press. Cover design by Lonny Hurley and Derek George.

A cover that’s neither cranky nor stupid. (Crafty, though….)

Yale University Press. Cover design by Jennifer Volvovski.

Face-off!

“The printed book should be both a functional and a beautiful object,” said Mindy Basinger Hill, “and every year this community finds new and innovative ways to bring that vision to our books.” I couldn’t agree more, and despite my tardiness in sharing, I’m happy to have seen these titles — and hope you are, too. Looking forward to next year!

See the entirety of the show’s winners here or read the overview. See also last year’s coverage.

My Favorite Book Covers of 2023

2023 seemed to go by with greater speed than normal, meaning the process of accumulating my favorite book covers occurred more hastily than I would have sometimes preferred — after all, perusing the best of the new releases is tremendously enjoyable. It’s just that, due to this year’s hefty undertakings, I was not able to make as much time as I’d have liked.

So I was surprised when, in early January, the tally of candidates in the favorites folder was over two hundred items. A bounty of goodness.

Narrowing those down to the list below was exceptionally difficult. I tried to get to last year’s limit of 70 titles, but failed; I managed to narrow it to 80, then 78, but just couldn’t winnow any further.

Pull up a chair. This one’s gonna take a minute.

Please remember that these are my favorites — others might say “best,” but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there’s always another title you haven’t seen or read about, and I don’t want to disrespect any of the talented book designers not on this list. I’ve tried to include design credit where I could — special thanks to the folks who answered emails with that information — and wish to stress that any mistakes in the list below are mine.

Note: If you’re on Foreword’s main page, please click on the post title, above, to view this list. You’ll get larger covers for your viewing pleasure.

My Favorite Book Covers of 2023 (three-way tie)
Design by Keith Hayes with art by Sasha Vinogradova.

“Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan,” the Amazon description starts, and it’s a sequel of magic, secret societies, and whatever else.

But never mind all that. This cover grabbed my attention in a way few do, with its combination of art, shadow, and type, all carved to perfection.

Design by Oliver Munday.

I dare say that only Oliver Munday could have done this expression of so much with so little. Enormously appropriate, then, for a memoir only 64 pages long.

Design by Adriana Tonello.

From The Illiterate‘s Hungarian refugee in Switzerland we move to a Norwegian immigrant seeking freedom in America. Alas, she turns out to be our first (known) serial killer — giving this hand a quiet, eerie yet somehow classic quality that quietly compels like few others. Outstanding.

Other 2023 Favorites, in alphabetical order:
Design by Holly Ovenden.

Impressive sense of movement from these figures, whose interplay with the title type combines with quotes-on-a-path (something of a trend this year) and great color choices to provide something memorable.

Design by Keith Hayes.

Such a simple concept. Such superlative results. No other concerns.

Design by Holly Ovenden.

There is another version of this on one of the “best of” lists, but I much prefer this one, with the circling birds and hand-done lettering. A two-color triumph.

Design by Oliver Munday.

Oooollllliiiiivvvvvveerr!

Design for the US version by Anna Weyant.

One of those examples where the art just shouts off the shelf, although the type treatment works exceptionally well, too. Better still, it’s one of the rare US versions that bests its UK treatment:

Design for the UK version by Kishan Rajani.

Not at all bad — in several “best of” lists, in fact. Just not mine.

Design by Sarah Wood.

I’m not sure whether the items on the page are models, made (or found) objects, or some extremely well-done Photoshop work, but ultimately it’s combination of the simple graphics and brilliant typographic treatment that earned this title its spot. Fantastic.

Design by Caroline Johnson.

The ’70s are hot right now, but this is 2023, aged to perfection. Very nearly made the “best of,” not just the “best of the rest.” Horrifically good.

Design by Oliver Munday.

Type, color, pattern, brilliance. Must be a Munday.

Design by Dylan C. Lathrop.

Eyes are a frequent guest on book covers. Rarely so many, though, and rarely in two-color. Winner of more than a Pulitzer.

Design by Emily Mahon, lettering by Martina Flor.

Edie O’Dare does tell, it turns out. “Cinematic” might be a cliché, but….

Design by Pete Garceau.

I’m a sucker for a great woodcut-style illustration. Great type treatment propels it into a standout book cover.

Design by Ingsu Liu.

There’s something decidedly non-emergency about this, yet once you understand, it works perfectly: simple, yet so very not.

Design by Eric C. Wilder.

This book of Native poetry ranges from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) to reverence to the natural world to “the machinations of colonialism,” a cover assignment that could border on impossible. Yet, here . . . absolutely brilliant. Expressive and so much more, including possibly my favorite type treatment of all on this list.

Design by Arsh Raziuddin.

Danger: UXB. (The pink is an inspired choice, too.)

Design by Tom Etherington.

Fear knows no bounds, only stylish hats. (On the LitHub list, someone said it has “serious 2024 vibes,” which I’m concerned may turn out to have some truth to it.)

Screen print by Kate Gibb, lettering by Jodi Hunt, and photograph by Adaeze Okaro.

Rarely have photo and type worked so well together. Fantastically well done, with plenty of room for the soon-to-be-added kudos, quotes, and awards.

Design by Beste Miray Doğan.

Who splits a four-letter word onto two lines? Someone after great results, as it turns out — with bonus points for the pattern and color in the “splash.” Nice.

Design by Alex Merto.

Smile-inducing. Sometimes simple is best.

Design by Sara Wood.

Junior theatre critic gets senior designer’s knockout hit. The audience goes wild.

Design by John Gall.

I’m at a bit of a loss to describe why I like this so much, except that every time I look at it, I like it even more.

Design by Kate Sinclair.

Perfect execution of a simple concept, from colors to art to type.

Design by Devin Grosz.

Wins the “best-placed title” award, among so many others.

Design by Greg Heinimann.

A reminder that something done often can still be done with originality — and incredibly well.

Design by Emily Mahon.

The collage-as-book-cover is another (perhaps) overused item, but when in the hands of Emily Mahon, this one looks you in the eye and won’t let go.

Design by No Ideas.

The jacket that covers The King of New York with . . . Lou Reed. “Well played” seems like an undersell.

Design by Janet Hansen.

From the textured paper to the type choices, this cover’s great. But with that photo choice, it’s vaulted into “best” category.

Design by Alex Merto.

The combination of geometric shapes and unexpected typography mean this little guy will never get painted into a corner.

Design by David Drummond.

“Type here,” someone said.

Design by Oliver Munday.

Type-as-a-border is a trend — one I’m surprised to see on a Munday — that’s actually a great counter to the purposely irreverent illustration. I dig it.

Bird-as-cat’s-eye. On a Margaret Atwood. ’Nuff said.

Design by Luke Bird.

Brilliantly, uh, substantive: a lesson in how-to.

Design by Jack Smyth.

The rooftops alone make this, but avoiding the stereotypical Irish colors is a huge bonus, too. (This title went on to win the 2023 Booker Prize, by the way.)

Design by Janet Hansen.

A triumph of the less-is-more approach, starring a headless human and superlative typography. Fantastic.

Design by Kimberly Glyder.

It’s rare to see children’s literature graced with such a great cover — this one literally flies off the shelf to grab your attention. A rare bird, indeed.

Design by Alban Fischer.

St. John called: this cover is fabulous, from evocative body parts to hand-lettering to die for. Awesome.

Design by Will Staehle.

A novel on the Korean Provisional Government — and so very much more. The split treatment, with both halves running at 11, get fantastic typography and the Korean characters (in gold, obvious in person) are a great touch.

Bonus: Read the author’s reaction at LitHub.

Design of the US version by Carlos Esparza.

Another where the US version shines, especially as cassettes are coming back into fashion. (Special points for the subtitle-as-label.) A B-side no longer.

Design by Emmily O’Connor.

Brilliant comment redacted.

Design by Will Staehle.

Mallory Viridian is an amateur detective on an extraterrestrial (and sentient!) space station — perfectly sold with this line-art-only cover. Fantastic.

Design by Anna Green.

Dead birds wouldn’t ordinarily be my go-to for cover excellence. But this one, with its painterly quality and hand lettering, perfectly hints at the haunting, slightly bizarre adventure within. Perhaps I should study more; as many will testify, it’s certainly not an obedience thing. (Read the Booker Prize listing.)

Design by Caroline Suzuki.

One of those instances where the graphic just sells the cover. Brilliant.

Design by Jaya Miceli.

The continuing stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ population in the United States is so perfectly summarized here. (I’m curious how this cover was done, too: white paint, then watercolored? Gouache? Either way, the colors serve the overall so very well.)

Design by John Gall.

This collage jumps through my psyche: sophisticated, off-kilter, and yet, somehow, completely right.

Design by Jamie Keenan.

I had to look up Charles Baudelaire, I have to admit — but didn’t need to know in order to get the disjointed, colorful appeal of this cover.

Design by Na Kim.

Leaving a trail, all right. (Also: the text colors.) This version is mercifully short of Booker notifications, too — sometimes, I wish all the callouts and clubs would just go away.

Design (and illustration) by Sarah Schulte.

Type on a path can be fraught, as can simple illustrations on off-white. Except when simple ideas are translated into compelling book design. Completely different from the above, yes, but just as accomplished.

Design by Gray318.

Crown. Asterisk. Print!

Design by Sarah Shulte.

As the risk of repeating myself: “Type on a path can be fraught, as can simple illustrations on off-white. Except when simple ideas are translated into compelling book design. Completely different from the above, yes, but just as accomplished.”

Design by Jamie Keenan.

This trick can only be pulled once, and book designers everywhere are envious downright jealous. Here’s the cover — uh, flap:

“Continued on rear flap,” it doesn’t say.

Design by Lauren Peters-Callaer.

Brilliance in titling aside, check the glint in the rabbit’s eye. Wonderful.

Design by Grace Han.

Interlocking forks, LOL. (Also, color choices.)

Design by Alex Merto.

This has gotten a bunch of well-deserved attention: from the embossed type to the gradually-increasing repetition of the artwork, Alex Merto scores and scores then repeats. Great stuff.

Design for the US version by Alicia Tatone.

Gluttonously hits a bunch of high notes, and keeps coming back for more — until:

Design for the UK version by Jo Walker.

Yeah. Score one for the UK.

Design by Kelly Winton.

Is it possible for something Escher-esque to be soothing? Yes, it turns out.

Design by Oliver Munday.

Perfectly abstract, brilliantly pulling together the remarkably disparate stories within.

Design by Kapo Ng.

“Kingdom of surfaces,” so very indeed.

Design by Beth Steidle.

“Spare, beautiful, and richly layered, the [book’s cover] is dazzling.” —Foreword

Design by Allison Saltzman.

Another of those too-simply concepts that checks out on every level. Awesome.

Design by Alex Merto.

Rarely does so much text take up so little space yet work so well — this 75th anniversary reprint stacks up. (Imagine inspiring a school-aged Stephen King, by the way. That’s “The Lottery.”)

Design by Linda Huang.

“A novel” has never played so well.

Design by Jaya Miceli.

Steppen-out: this new translation gets new meaning. (In the text, too, I understand.)

Design by John Gall.

Multi-layered shadowboxing. Nice.

Design by Steve Attardo.

A study in simple perfection. For a book examining heightening fascism, toning down the cover speaks volumes. Great choices on every level.

Design by Greg Mollica.

To collage in a way that the resulting product is of higher value than the original items: upcycling, indeed. (“The thread tying the cover together is a masterstroke,” he said.)

Design by Lauren Peters-Callaer.

“The humor of a great conversation,” one of the reviews said, and better words could not be found for the cover. Masterful.

Design by Andrew Davis.

The woodcut-style illustration is back, in two-color and aged to perfection. (The paperback kept the illustration but changed out and dulled the colors, to a much less satisfying effect. Curses.)

Design by Tom Etherington.

“Permeable boundaries,” illustrated brilliantly, with perfect texture and typography.

Design by Tyler Comrie.

“Sings,” someone said. “Seconded,” I said.

Design by Jonathan Pelham.

Stories told in a triumph of less is more. (The US version is good — another that’s one some others’ “best of” lists — but here’s another one where I think the UK slam dunks.)

Design by Laywan Kwan.

This is one of those covers that keeps giving, a three-color triumph of telling the book’s story. (Also: typographically counter-riffic.)

Design by Na Kim.

The Book of Goose was one of my top three covers last year, but high expectations are nothing when Na Kim is covering it. Storied, indeed.

UK version design by Andrew Davis.

I was going to go on for a minute, again, about how the UK gets all the good covers — and this one earned a spot in this post — but…:

US version design by Owen Gent.

…the more I look at this US version, the more I like it. The hint of cat, the red shading, the paper’s tone and texture, and the type treatment stand in direct contrast with the fabulously literal interpretation of the UK version. Given both, I literally couldn’t choose.

Design by Matt Dorfman.

“There’s a painting at the door,” in the most amazing state. (Political pun intended.)

William Morrow didn’t return a request for the cover design’s name, unfortunately.

There are so many ways to get this design wrong — but wow: someone took a cliché and literally flew in the face of it, to brilliant, memorable effect. I wish I could give appropriate credit.

• • •

Dan Wagstaff over at The Casual Optimist comments that,

[I]t’s like we’re stuck in a holding pattern, circling the same design ideas. Trends have stuck around. A lot of covers feel safe. Some of this was the books themselves. I’m not sure exactly how many celebrity memoirs is too many, but I’m pretty sure we reached that point and sailed right past it in 2023. No doubt some of it is sales and marketing departments sanding down all the edges and demanding the tried and true (see Zachary Petit’s alternative best of 2023 piece on killed covers for Fast Company). But I would not be surprised if it designers were just getting caught up in the churn — too many books, too many covers, and too much other stuff to worry about.

— Dan Wagstaff, The Casual Optimist

I think he’s right. Despite growing the number of selected covers this year over last, I feel that despite the outstanding items above, the majority of the book covers and jackets — almost certainly by publishers’ explicit direction — are playing it safe. After all, here in the Roaring Twenties, rocking the boat brings nothing short of vilification.

Thankfully, the designers on this list have battled the committees bent on mediocrity and overcome with great talent, great design, and great perseverance. Power to them, and I wish them — indeed, all of us — continued success in 2024.

’Cause, y’know, it’s gonna be a great year.

How this list was compiled

My selections stem from books I’ve seen in person; the “best of” lists from NPR, The Guardian, and the BBC (among others); and the best book cover lists from Spine, The Casual Optimist, The Book Designer, Creative ReviewKottkePRINT, The New York Times (gift link), and LitHub. See how my list compares with those, and enjoy: a great many more outstanding examples of book cover creativity await.

Please note: I somehow missed the 2023 University Press Design Show — usually linked here — so please stay tuned for that post soon (and then again in July for the ’24 Show). Apologies.

Beautifully Briefed 23.11: Considerations

A selection of diverse items for this entry in the series: a new publication from The Guardian, open source fonts for your 2023 goodness (along with more for ’24), and the Natural Landscape Photography Award winners. Also: DAK. Let’s get into it.

The Long Read

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of The Guardian, including its unusual-for-journalism payment model (that, frankly, some outlets in the US would be wise to copy). Now, they’re on newsstands with a “bookazine” called The Long Read.

The back cover. (See the front cover at the left in the header image.)

“We know that for many people, myself included, when it comes to long, immersive pieces, reading in print […] is still the most satisfying reading experience, and one that should be cherished in a climate so saturated by disturbance,” quotes It’s Nice That. With most of these more evergreen stories taking months or even years to build, hardy print felt the best way for them to live. [A] ‘bookazine’, it balances all the things we love about magazines (“the drama, the pace, the energy”) with the considered typesetting of a book. A lot of attention was given to packaging its large volume of text – clocking in at 55,000 words – to make the reading experience as relaxing as possible, from body type size to column widths.

Liz Gorny, It’s Nice That
An article title page — indeed, the best of a newspaper magazine in book form.

Read more at It’s Nice That, and give The Long Read a look at The Guardian bookstore or a newsstand near you.

Three Open Source Fonts for 2023, and 50 for ’24

As a self-confessed font junkie, I’m always interested when a new one comes across the bow — but there are so many these days, they’ve unfortunately become almost commodities. (That’s a huge shame, but also a discussion for another time.) So it’s interesting when I see ones that are not only good but also available for everyone, free and open source.

Monaspace is the first of three I want to highlight, “a monospaced type superfamily with some modern tricks up its sleeve.” Designed for code — hence the monospace — it’s a successful answer to the question, “Letters on a grid is how we see our code. Why not make those letters better?”

Get the full story or download from GitHub.

B612 is designed for — get this — the screens on Airbus commercial planes. “[T]he challenge was to improve the display of information on the cockpit screens, in particular in terms of legibility and comfort of reading, and to optimize the overall homogeneity of the cockpit.” Read the back story here.

B612 is available from Google or GitHub.

Inter is described as, “The 21st century standard,” “a workhorse of a typeface carefully crafted & designed for a wide range of applications, from detailed user interfaces to marketing & signage.” One of the world’s most-used font families, it’s perfect when readability is at the fore.

Inter is detailed and downloadable here.

But there’s more!

Brinca by In-House International. (Image via CreativeBoom.)

CreativeBoom has their annual compilation of 50 new fonts for the coming year up, “a comprehensive list of the best fonts that demand your attention in 2024. We’ve compiled this comprehensive list by asking the creative industry for their favourites, analysing work from the last 12 months, and taking on board the design trends emerging right now.”

National Museum in Gdańsk by Tofu Studio. Featuring Migra by Pangram Pangram. (Image via CreativeBoom.)

Great stuff. Creative. Boom!

Special Bonus: Simon Garfield publishes biographies on Albertus, Baskerville and Comic Sans. Seriously:

The Natural Landscape Photography Awards

For once: a contest that demands more — like the original RAW files. (Literally the raw image from the camera, before processing, for those who don’t know — think film negatives, rather than the resulting prints.) Okay, sure, it’s not perfect; there are entry fees and it doesn’t have a long track record, but the rules are solid with respect to image integrity.

Of course, the quality of the subject chosen to photograph is, if you’ll pardon the expression, subjective. The overriding theme here seems to be the perfection of dramatic subtlety — not an easy thing to get right.

Photo: Adam Gibbs
Photo: Adam Gibbs

The two photographs above are both by Adam Gibbs and reflect the judges’ desire to reward photographers who display a diverse portfolio of subjects.

Photo: Alberto Rodriguez Garcia
“Once Upon a Time.” Photo: Matt Redfern

A winner from the “abstracts and details” category for the first and a great title for the second image that does indeed tell so many stories. Rounding it out, another beautiful black-and-white:

Photo: Franka Gabler

See the contest website for the complete selection of 2023 winners. (Via PetaPixel.)

Remember the DAK catalogs?

If you’re a certain age — that is, were around in the ’80s — the DAK catalog was a regular. (Give me one, together with a JC Whitney catalog, and a weekend was gone.) A recent post by Cabel Sasser brought it all back:

The catalog from Summer 1983.

Oh, the products. The explanations. The fun.

I’m not going to spoil the effort put into the story of Drew Alan Kaplan, a.k.a. DAK, Joseph Sugarman, Products That Think, or any of it: go enjoy for yourself.

Beautifully Briefed 23.10: Shifting, Branding, and Creating

A variety of interests addressed this time: a bit on Shift Happens, a great question on branding, and Leica’s new M camera — and its content credentials. (Plus, bonuses.) Happy October!

Booking a Keyboard

We talked about this title back in January, but it’s worth the reminder:

A 3D rendering of Shift Happens.

Marcin Wichary has long been interested in keyboards. In his words,

Keyboards fascinated me for years. But it occurred to me that a good, comprehensive, and human story of keyboards — starting with typewriters and ending with modern computers and phones — has never been written. How did we get from then to now? What were the steps along the way? And how on earth does QWERTY still look the same now as it did 150 years ago? I wanted a book like this for years. So I wrote it.

Marcin Wichary, Shift Happens

This title fascinates me, partially because it’s an interesting subject — one we’ve all interacted with, often without thinking about — and partially because it’s a great, well-covered exercise in book design.

A very cool photograph of an IBM Electric. Photo by Marcin Wichary.

Further, Marcin has done a fantastic job in getting the word out. He’s designed a killer web site, written some great updates, and gotten some good press — including a recent interview with Ars Technica, in which he says:

I am a web guy, and I used to think that the web (just like typewriters, once) took away a lot of hard-won typesetting nuance and tradition. But it turns out that the web also makes it much easier to do certain things. To have a word be surrounded by a rounded rectangle—a visual representation of a key—is a few lines of CSS or a few clicks in Figma. But for the book, I had to cut my own font and then write Python scripts to do typesetting inside the font-making software, which I’m pretty sure you are not supposed to do[.]

Marcin Wichary, Shift Happens

Really looking forward this title. Copies are, as of this writing, still available.

Let’s Talk Branding.

It’s Nice That asks a great question: “Are rebrands starting to look the same? The challenges facing commercial design,” in which author Elizabeth Goodspeed discusses whether “shortened turnarounds and economic tensions” are taking a toll on originality.

Westinghouse branding guidelines from the ’60s.

The answer might seem to be, “Well, duh,” but it’s nonetheless a thoughtful and insightful article that asks the correct question: “how does one define originality in an age saturated with visual stimuli?”

[T]he digital applications more often associated with modern rebrands, while comparatively easy to update, may counter-intuitively promote less care and attention towards their making. [A]nother possible issue contributing to rebrand redundancy: lack of rollout support beyond rebrand launch. Even a unique identity may lose its spark when its primary consumer touchpoint is what a social media manager produces on Canva after skimming the brand guidelines once. Further still, many clients no longer approach design studios to harness their expertise but, instead, with preconceived notions of the result they expect; design studios may want to create original work, but sometimes clients are willing to pay more for a rebrand that mirrors their own preconceived ideas of what the work should look like.

— Elizabeth Goodspeed, It’s Nice That
The logo’s the same, but the applications vastly different.

The whole article is great (and richly illustrated) — give it a few minutes of your time.

Special Bonuses #1 & 2: Let’s look at a couple of places where branding has been in the news recently (pun intended). Also from It’s Nice That, an article on The Irish Independent rebrand. Here, as is often the case recently, it’s the custom illustrations that carry the day:

Andy Goodman is the illustrator responsible for the lively work found throughout, which toe the line between measured and playful,” It’s Nice That writes. Agreed 100%.

Less successful is England’s The Guardian, whose ongoing campaign to raise money — they don’t have a paywall, relying instead on reader contributions — perhaps could have used more work:

These ads don’t really have me on the fence: The Guardian deserves better.

Meh. (And this from a huge fan of The Guardian.) Creative Boom is more positive.

Special Bonus #3: From the wildly successful, original branding department comes, of course, the brilliantly-named Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity. They’ve been covered here twice before, but are back in the news with a new branding Manual. See why that’s capitalized at Dezeen.

The Eames Institute branding oozes positivity, class, and — you guessed it — infinite curiosity. Nice.
Leica, Adobe, and Content Authenticity

One would assume that Leica users are the epitome of content authenticity — there’s nothing like the world’s best lenses (IMHO), attached to some incredible cameras, to provide photographers with all that’s needed to make the best possible images.

Leica’s new M11-P, however, packs a world first: hardware encryption that supports a system called the “Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI).” In CAI corporate-speak, it’s “the future of photojournalism […] usher[ing] in a powerful new way for photojournalists and creatives to combat misinformation and bring authenticity to their work and consumers, while pioneering widespread adoption of Content Credentials.”

Leica’s new M11-P. A bargain at $9,195. (Lenses extra, of course.)

B&H puts it another way:

The Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) is a collaborative effort initiated by Adobe in partnership with various other organizations, including The New York Times and Leica, among others. Announced in late 2019, its primary goal is to develop a standard for digital content attribution. The rise in manipulated digital content, deep fakes, and misinformation has underlined the need for a more transparent system of content attribution, which the CAI seeks to address.

The interesting thing here is Adobe’s initiative. What’s their goal?

Adobe has been suffering a few hits recently. They’ve just raised prices — on the heels of record profits — and “monopoly” is not in any way a stretch. Photoshop? Entered the lexicon. InDesign? No credible alternatives. Illustrator? Professional standard across multiple industries. In other words, we’re stuck with ’em, and they know it.

This line of thinking is expanded at CreativeBoom: “Is Adobe Becoming the Frenemy of Creatives? But that’s not all.

Ignore’s Adobe’s unfailingly cute examples: AI + texture = exactly what some “creative director” needed. Seriously uncute.

They’re pushing hard into AI, too, and surprisingly up-front about it changing creative work in ways potentially less creative:

Firefly 2 was unveiled yesterday at the 2023 Adobe Max conference with the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tool incorporated into Lightroom’s new lens blur feature that simulates depth of field along with a host of other tools. However, it was the new “Generative Match” tool that will allow users to upload a reference image to guide the AI image generator to a specific style that prompted Adobe to comment that the new tools could mean less work for photographers. 

Adobe is appealing to companies who want a “consistent look across assets.” It is offering brands the chance to generate hundreds, if not thousands, of similar images for different uses such as websites, social media, and print advertisements.

— Matt Growcoot, PetaPixel

Or how about this example: An agency or freelancer working on a vector image in Illustrator, and need to add something that they either don’t have the time or talent to do myself. Previously, they could find either a stock item — made by a human (who is paid, by the way) — or hire it out (again, to a human, and again, one who is paid for their work). Now? Just tell the computer what you need.

Get more from Ars Technica’s Unlimited Barbarians Dept.

All of which ties nicely back to the previous section on whether branding is beginning to homogenize. Is AI going to accelerate that process? You betcha.

Value human creativity, folks. Artists, teachers, writers, thinkers: all the people pushing at the edges of the envelope will now have to push even harder, in an era when envelope-pushing is increasingly demonized.

Special Bonus #4: Ars Technica argues that the U.S. Copyright Office’s blanket ban on the copyright-ability of AI-generated images isn’t going to age well, using photography as an argument.

Special Bonus #5 (Updated 31 Oct): Via Nick Heer’s excellent Pixel Envy, we have a great explainer from Tim Bray regarding The Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), the actual implementation of CAI. Better than my brief description by a country mile.

Special Bonus #6: To round out this post, from the department of envelope-pushing: PRINT Magazine put together the book covers of the 11 most-banned books in America. Dangerous, indeed!

Beautifully Briefed 23.9: Falling into Brilliance

As summer turns to fall, let’s take a look at Type 1 fonts, a library index, revolutionary posters, posters for “get lectured,” and two different photography contests. Let’s get right into it.

Adobe discontinues a standard: The Type 1 font

Back in the early days of desktop publishing — up to about the turn of the century, give or take — everything typographic used PostScript, a programming language by Adobe. (Other stuff, too, like Adobe’s vector program, Illustrator.) PostScript fonts were the so-called “Type 1” variety, made up of a bitmapped “suitcase” that housed the standard display sizes and an outline file used by the output device to print clean, what-you-see-is-what-you-get beauty.

The Apple LaserWriter Plus and some vintage Macs: nostalgia! (Note the book — heh.) Image: YouTube.

Companies from Apple to Microsoft didn’t want Adobe to hold a monopoly on output tech, so later fonts evolved into TrueType and then OpenType, the latter of which is the standard today.

So much so that Adobe has now discontinued Type 1, and they, along with Microsoft, have stopped being supported. Which is understandable and yet a shame: some of us still have hundreds of them.

Ars Technica has the best roundup.

Meanwhile, I’m going to investigate a conversion utility. Will report back.

All the Libraries in London

It’s Nice That has a post that reminds us of a library’s central purpose: to leave knowing more than you did when you entered. “The library, in our shared public imagination, is a special place,” the author argues — reminding us of what libraries were established to do, often distinctly different from the modern reality (especially in the United States).

In the library you begin to be convinced that language matters, that words have the power to clarify, to rouse, to make us feel something, to help us understand the political and cultural features of historical and contemporary moments.

Lola Olufemi, It’s Nice That
All the Libraries in London. Cover design: unknown. Image via It’s Nice That.

All the Libraries in London does something artistic with a simple listing, elevating it, reminding us how compelling the ideal that libraries represent really is:

This is a political and artistic listing, one that invites the reader to rediscover their own memories of their local library as a site of discovery. The book’s authors invite us to reflect on our personal relationship to libraries as well as the necessity of collectively securing their future existence.

Lola Olufemi, It’s Nice That
Alan Kitching, Durning Library. Image via It’s Nice That.

We need more of this everywhere, but especially here in the States. Meanwhile, check out this great item at It’s Nice That.

Special Bonus #1: Another British treasure, via the very British Antiques Roadshow (a British original, natch): this incredible poster by Ralph Steadman.

Ralph Steadman’s Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) poster. Image via Wikipedia.

Special Bonus #2: British book designer Steve Leard has launched a new book design podcast, Cover Meeting, featuring interviews between Leard and fellow book designers on the work, the industry, and more. The Bookseller has more.

Cuban Movie Posters. No, Really.

While we’re on the subject of great posters — and It’s Nice That — let’s talk about how Cuba’s revolution-era political posters transformed their poster design for films. Appropriately enough, a new film, El Cartel Cubano, highlights these amazing (and, likely, never seen before) items.

Besos Robados, ICAIC, by Sotolongo & Carole Goodman. Image via It’s Nice That.

How come our posters in the US aren’t this beautiful? What did this say about the priorities of the revolution? What did the medium or choices in the scarcity of materials used say about the economic situation in Cuba?” It’s these questions which form the bedrock of El Cartel Cubano, a fascinating and tender tribute to the artists on the island.

Adrienne Hall, co-director, El Cartel Cubano
Sur, by Michael Myiares Holland. Image via It’s Nice That.

I have to admit: this isn’t a subject I would have leapt at, but It’s Nice That sold it. Awesome.

Get Lectured (on Architecture)

Closing out our trifecta of great posters, Archinect‘s Get Lectured series brings us these fantastic items from their Fall 2023 series:

Woodbury University School of Architecture’s Fall 2023 lecture series.
The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture’s Fall 2023 lecture series

Some real gems: see more.

Finalists of the 2023 Urban Photography Awards

Going to soapbox a little here: pay-to-enter photo contests aren’t usually something I want to spread the word about. So ArchDaily‘s basically-a-press-release, “URBAN Photo Awards 2023 has announced its list of Finalist Photographers, marking the penultimate stage of the international contest,” was guaranteed a pass.

But there’s a problem: some of the photographs are really compelling.

Untitled, by Claudia Costantino

This one’s my fave:

Back to the 70s, by Stephane Navailles

See the contest website, or ArchDaily‘s post.

Winners of the 2023 Black and White Photography Awards

Another contest, yes. They’re everywhere. But … wow.

Street Lights – Ottawa, by Gareth Jones, category winner, architecture
Another mushroom? By Hector Ballester Ballester. Silver mention, architecture.
Alamillo bridge, by Manuel Ponce Luque. Finalist.
The concert, by Helena García Huertas. Finalist.
Reflections on the stairwell, by Max Dobens. Finalist.

And that’s just the buildings/architecture — there are portraits, street photography, landscapes, and more. A reminder to aspire, every day, with every image.

The Black and White Photo Awards (2023). (Via PetaPixel.)

Updated Gallery: Automotive (Details)

Two different photographic opportunities have meant additions to the Automotive gallery recently: some motorcycles in Columbus, and some BMWs at an event in Hampton, a suburb of Atlanta and home to the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

All of these were taken with Leica’s superlative APO 90mm macro (yes, I know, I go on and on about this lens — it’s that good), and almost all are just details — a lens that long in a crowd means leaving the big picture aside in favor of the minutiae. Luckily, that’s a strength of the camera system, and one of my favorite ways to use it.

Retro BMW (Motorrad) Roundel
Harley Davidson Star Logo (Detail)

The Harley logo wasn’t one I was familiar with — and it’s great — but the BMW is fantastic in its retro glory, complete with copper screws.

Meanwhile, speaking of BMWs, they hold their Ultimate Drive Experience yearly in the Atlanta area, and Gerald and I are in regular attendance. It was my first time seeing a number of new models, including the new M2:

M2 (Headlight Detail)

Didn’t like this until I saw it there; it’s a shortened M4 but wide and swollen in all the right ways. However, the undisputed star of the show was the new XM. Like many modern BMWs, it’s better in person — exuding presence:

XM (Charging)

I wish I’d somehow been able to better convey its stance, its proportions, and what I imagine it would look like coming up behind you. Then again, $160k and 664 horsepower will do that. Speaking of horsepower:

XM (M Power V8 Hybrid)

Nuthin’ like a carbon fiber engine cover in a three-ton machine. That said, for both Gerald and I the far-and-away favorite wasn’t the XM but rather the iX:

iX (Badge Detail)

The iX is a little ungainly from some angles, but its battery-powered, carbon fiber goodness is both fast and efficient. Plus, it sports one of the best BMW interiors going right now, and that’s saying something. (Ventilated wool seats for the win, folks.)

These events usually boast parking lots filled with classics, but either the late Sunday afternoon or thunderstorms kept the older items safely garaged. However, there was a sweet and very bright red i8 gracing the scene:

i8 Swoop

If you’re at all into cars, there are 150 photographs in the automotive gallery waiting for you to enjoy. (As the note says, “some bias may be shown.”)

Have a great weekend!

Update: Gerald had already posted on this, but I didn’t see it in time to link above. Thanks, man!

50 Books | 50 Covers, 2022 Edition

AIGA once again surprises and delights in their annual competition of book design.

Since its inception in 1923 as the Fifty Books of the Year competition, this annual event highlights AIGA’s continued commitment to uplifting powerful and compelling design in a familiar format we know and love. As book jackets became more prevalent, the competition evolved with the field to acknowledge excellence in cover design. Beginning in 1995, the competition became known as 50 Books | 50 Covers. 

AIGA Press Release

The jury and I were very impressed with both the quantity and quality of the entries this year, which made choosing only 50 extremely difficult. Among the trending techniques this year were use of exposed bindings and elaborate page sequencing and mixed paper choices. For me, there was a greater overall sophistication in book design, with a mix of aesthetically beautiful and graphically brash approaches in the final choices.

Andrew Satake Blauvelt, Director, Cranbrook Art Museum (Chair)

As usual, there’s some overlap with various lists of “best of 2022” — here’s Forewords — but, as LitHub puts it, these are the best book [designs] of 2022 that you (probably) haven’t seen.

A selection of my favorites, in alphabetical order:

Cover design by Mary Austin Speaker

Simplicity itself — along with some awesome block type — add up to a great cover. (Love the angled blurb, too.)

Book design by Zack Robbins and Bentzion Goldman

One of the great things about this post is the “50 Books” part; this cover’s okay, and the spine more than okay, but it’s the interior design that really wins in my book (pardon the expression):

Book design by Zack Robbins and Bentzion Goldman
Book design by Zack Robbins and Bentzion Goldman

Kudos: the photography is great, but the spread above is artistic in wonderful way.

Book design by Kimberly Varella.

The trend, mentioned above, to mix paper stocks and styles is shown to full effect here. This book has too many great examples to post; see more.

Meanwhile, Uncovering Singapore’s Traditional Chinese Puppets may not be a title you’d automatically reach for, but…:

Book design by Alvin Ng and Jesvin Yeo.
Book design by Alvin Ng and Jesvin Yeo.

More mixed papers (sizes, too), more great stuff. (See additional examples.)

Cover and jacket design by Lindsay Starr.

This is an interesting, compelling cover and jacket design as shown above. However, once again, rather than post it all here, I’m just hoping to whet your appetite — you need to see this one unfold (literally).

Cover design by Raúl Aguayo.

Great colors, great combinations, great cover.

Cover design by Vi An Nguyen.

I’m always a sucker for photographs of practical items used in ways that make book covers great, and this one’s a shining (pink) example.

Book design by Maria Elias.

There’s so much great design work done in the children’s book market it’s not even funny. The first of two great examples. (See more from this title.)

Book design by Mỹ Linh Triệu Nguyễn.

A book’s edges are so often a canvas left unexplored. Not with this book, Pacita Abad. (See examples from this title’s wonderful interior, too.)

Cover design by Christopher Sergio.

I’ve highlighted this design before, but every time I see it I like it more. Glad to see it as an AIGA 50 Covers winner.

Book design by Brian Johnson, Michelle Lamb and SilasMunro.

Typographic Messages of Protest, indeed — done in an appropriately powerful way. The suggestion of motion is a great touch.

Cover design by Chris Allen.

“Block party,” defined. Excellent.

Book design by Jay Marvel.

The second children’s title on this list, including an interesting and distinctive style. (See the interior of this book.)

Again, these are only some of my favorites — there are many more, all of which deserve a look. Congrats to all the designers who made these title happen and thanks to the AIGA for this annual delight.

See also: Last year’s winners. Via: It’s Nice That.

Beautifully Briefed 23.7: Items of Independence (Day)

The mission for these posts is simple: independent, unrelated items which add up to something interesting. This time, it’s nifty type, aka NFTy.pe, photographic AI (or not), the 2023 Logo Trends Report, great London Review of Books illustrations, and a worthy art book list hijacked for a rant on stickers. Boom!

Better Than it Sounds: NFTy.pe

Typefaces have become, from this designer’s point of view, become commodities — perhaps even part of a broken system. Most clients don’t have a budget for unique type, there are too many spread across too many different sites, and, as Creative Boom puts it, “ownership has become poorly policed, if not non-existent.”

NFType really flips the script on all of that and attempts to reimagine the industry from creation to sale. In a nutshell, NFTy.pe uses a combination of modular type design and generative scripts to create fonts with unique visual attributes. The upshot is that no two character sets are exactly the same. And thanks to smart contracts and embedded metadata, ownership is quick and easy to verify.

— Craig Ward, NFTy.pe creator, via Creative Boom
Create a unique typeface that rewards, in more ways than one.

As pointed out, it’s not just for type users:

There’s a lot of work to be done to put some distance between the dumpster fire that represents much of the NFT space and projects – like this one – with actual utility. I wouldn’t vouch for the worth of a lot of what I’ve seen out there, but the underlying tech – the smart contracts themselves – [is] actually genius and will be a game changer for any industry where provenance is a key factor – agriculture, property, fashion etc.

— Craig Ward

The whole article is worth a read, or go straight to the source.

Photographic AI

This year has been centered around AI, it seems — and, as illustrations go, some of the results are indeed a new form of art. Take this one posted by Dezeen as part of their AItopia competition:

Created by Midjourney for Daniel Riopel.

Fantastic. Its creator, a production technician in the prefabricated housing industry, deserves major kudos for describing something to the Midjourney engine that’s intricate and, if I dare use the term with AI, creative. (Several of the images there are excellent — check ’em out.)

That said, I’m not a fan of articles like PetaPixel‘s recently-posted “Photographers May Have to Embrace AI, Whether They Want To or Not.” Simply put: no. I don’t have to embrace it, because nothing has changed — either I can get the photograph I want using the cameras and lenses I have or I can’t. I’m not going to “generate the fill,” pure and simple. (I don’t control the computational photography my phone produces, but Apple isn’t prone to creating what isn’t there.)

I’ve been trying to write on this subject for a while, without success. Possibly because I don’t need a longer version of the above paragraph, possibly because it’s something else I haven’t been able to articulate yet — even to myself.

The 2023 Logo Trends Report

It’s back! BrandNew points us to the latest in styles and, as advertised on the tin, trends:

“Sonics,” part of the 2023 Logo Trends Report.
“Ritz,” as in the cracker, part of the 2023 Logo Trends Report.

Always an interesting read, including this fantastic tidbit directly related to the previous section:

“Don’t worry about AI stealing your job. To replace graphic designers with AI, clients will need to accurately describe what they want. We’re safe.”

— Bill Gardner, LogoLounge

Read the full report, “a whirlwind of ideas, symbols, and AI, evolving how creators like us create,” at LogoLounge.

Illustrations at the London Review of Books

Because we cover books here often (pun intended), an article on Jon McNaught’s awesome illustrations for the London Review of Books absolutely caught my eye. “A collaborative relationship,” it’s called — and the results produced not only illustrate a huge variety of subjects in a consistent style, but do so in a way that delights:

A great illustration by Jon McNaught.
Of the examples posted, there’s not a single one I don’t like. Copyright Jon McNaught.

Since 2011, Jon has been collaborating with the renowned literary journal, creating works that have a quietly mesmerising quality. His scenes breed comfort with their universality, but also their ability to evoke specific memories and feelings in the individual viewer. Through his covers, Jon artfully captures the essence of everyday life by representing the vastly contrasting nature of British weather, plus the uniqueness of London’s architecture, green spaces and public transport.

— Olivia Hingley, It’s Nice That

See many more illustration examples and read the article at It’s Nice That.

Hyperallergic‘s Art Books to Read this summer

Hyperallergic‘s coverage of art, despite the annoying pop-ups, is worth its bookmark — illustrated by this list of 11 Art Books to Add to Your Reading List This Summer. Some, like the Philip Guston I recently saw highlighted on Perspective, are as relevant as ever. It’s a great list.

As usual, whenever I see something like this, I’m going to do something else at the same time: mine it for potentially great book design. Which, if you’ll indulge, leads to this short rant: I hate good covers marred by stickers.

“Read with Jenna?” Seriously?

Solid cover. Soooo, who’s Jenna? Is she important enough to mar the cover with? (I DuckDuckGo’d the answer: maybe … if you watch television. Not sure that’s the audience publishers should want to cater to.)

This time, the “sticker” is National Book Award Finalist. Better, but still.

Another solid cover — perhaps even really good, something that’s appropriate for a title up for the National Book Award. Real shame, then, that the sticker gets in the way, winding up completely distracting from the very nice circular title treatment (I’m sorry I don’t know either book designer to list here.)

I understand that it’s a little like trying to hold back the tide with a shovel, but it’s something I needed to express. [/rant]

Bonus #1 (awful): From the disturbing trends department: TikTok may start publishing books. Barf.

Bonus #2 (amazing): Via Kottke, a fantastic poster and perhaps better question:

Poster for the 2023 International Book Arsenal Festival, by Art Studio Agrafka

A book festival. During a war. In a city under martial law. While schools and legislatures here in the US ban books about Black and LGBTQ+ experiences based on bad faith complaints of tiny fundamentalist parent groups. Tell me, who’s doing democracy better right now?

— Jason Kottke, Kottke.org

That’s all for early July, folks. Go forth and make your summer a better place.

Beautifully Briefed 23.6 Follow-up: New Automotive Logos

Within literal days of my writing that we should be done with the automobile companies’ logo updates, we got three. (Well, two and a preview.) Details follow.

Infinity

Back in the early ’90s, Nissan introduced a premium brand called Infiniti. Following the likes of Lexus (Toyota) and Acura (Honda), Nissan wanted a piece of the upscale action and knew that a public that still remembered Datsun would need convincing.

So they embraced the home country: Japan. They leaned heavily into the distinctive style and craftsmanship; their initial products were different and put up an interesting argument when compared to (especially) Lexus.

Awesome original emblem from the 1991 Q45’s “grille.” Photo by Ben Hsu.

Alas, they lost the cachet almost immediately — to a point where today, I almost always get out of an Infiniti’s way due to their being the official representative of the poorest-quality drivers on the road. (And I say that as a BMW driver.) It’s also, unfortunately, one of the most-likely brands to wear a coffee-can-sized exhaust finisher, heavily-tinted windows, and/or dubious lowering springs.

Enhancing customer connection and delivering thoughtful hospitality across all touch points underpins INFINITI’s comprehensive refresh. Central to the update is a new global retail architecture design, along with an evolved logo and new multisensory experience.

Infiniti Press Release

So to hear them recommit to the “Japaneseness” of their brand is, well, interesting. Perhaps the signature scent will help.

Infiniti’s logo evolution, with the oldest at the left.
Note the available illumination.

Brand New, as usual, has the best coverage, but as it’s a subscription, alternatively see this story from Motor1.

Opel
Forgive the color banding — it’s in the original.

Opel earned a brief mention here on Foreword in December 2020, when they joined were sold to PSA — Peugeot, Citroen, and company — which a month later (!) merged with Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis. They’re back with an unfortunate update to embrace their 2028 switch to all-electric.

The “increased sharpness,” as Motor1 puts it, is appreciated, I suppose — but the break in the middle goes against everything the lightning bolt its meant to represent. In fact, I’d argue that the mark now doesn’t resemble lightning at all. (Perhaps clouds?)

Sigh.

Preview: Alpina

So, on to more interesting things: Alpina. Established in 1962 as a tuner and racer of BMWs, it’s had more or less the same logo since 1967 and was established as an actual manufacturer in 1983: they do more than just tune BMWs, they reengineer them. These days, they stand for the ultimate Grand Tour cars, simultaneously more comfortable, more powerful, and more stylish than the cars they’re based on. (See the lovely Alpina Z8 at the top of this post, for instance.)

Aplina’s 1962 logo: exhaust and crankshaft, sir. Nuthin’ like it.

Naturally, that means most of them aren’t available here in the US.

The ultimate unobtanium machine: a 2022 Alpina B3 touring. Drool.

In any case, they’ve recently entered into an agreement to be purchased by BMW itself, not unlike AMG becoming part of Mercedes-Benz, and, starting in 2025, are scheduled to represent the middle ground between BMW and Rolls-Royce — hopefully continuing the comfort, power, and style. It seems that the new ground will be the upmarket models only (that is, no 3-series-based items, and possibly even no 5-series), so think of items $200,000 and up.

Now, an eagle-eyed I5 Talk forum poster noted a filing with the German government:

The proposed wordmark, horizontal.
A close-up of the Alpina “A.” Note that it’s the trailing one; hopefully, not a sign of things to come.

BMW Blog has the details.

Bonus #1: Motor1 has updated their roundup of every automaker logo refresh from recent years.

Bonus #2: All of the automotive — and carmaker logo — stories here on Foreword, from newest to oldest.

Beautifully Briefed 23.6: Welcome to Summer

This time, several items related to books and bookstores; two more — possibly the last two — from the automotive logo category; and PRINT Magazine’s 2023 roundup of great design.

Book Four-For
AI book covers? Here, now.

Creative Bloq, which I wasn’t familiar with, has a post up that’s only here because it’s the first I’ve seen of what is sure to be a trend: AI imagery on a book cover.

Image: Bloomsbury UK (Also: Where’s the body to go with the head?)

“Causing controversy,” they say, in that…:

[F]or a while now, with concerns over copyright and ethics plaguing text-to-image generators. Perhaps the most existential worry of all is the idea that AI could put human artists out of work – and while many still find the idea fanciful, we’re already seeing examples of AI-generated art being used commercially.

— Daniel Piper, Creative Bloq

The article itself has a hint of click-bait about it, what with Twitter users spotting a NY Times bestseller but complaining about the UK version of the cover design . . . but the larger question of AI coming for the book designers everywhere is valid.

Then again, AI imagery has the potential to reshape much of the creative landscape. Let’s hope — hope! — that it’s deployed ethically.

B&N’s Market Repositioning
Image: NYTimes (modified)

BookRiot asks whether Barnes & Noble’s new presentation as “a local bookstore” — something that’s part of the community in a way that Amazon can never be —is genuine, let alone successful. (We have a B&N here in Macon, which I visit infrequently, and which doesn’t feel “local.”)

Background: The BookRiot article (and the image) above ultimately stem, I believe, from a NY Times option piece from 2018.

Temples of Books

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of combining books and photography. Naturally, great photographs of great libraries strike just the right chord:

Cuypersbibliotheek, Amsterdam, Netherlands

As This is Colossal puts it, “Written by Marianne Julia StraussTemples of Books: Magnificent Libraries Around the World celebrates the stunning architecture and quietude associated with wandering the stacks.”

Phillips Exeter Academy Library, Exeter, New Hampshire

Positioning these spaces as intellectual havens, Temples of Books highlights their wide array of offerings, including botanic gardens, archival repositories, and of course, room to read. “As an institution that can curate knowledge, scrutinize the status quo, and encourage education, the library is more important today than ever,” a statement says. “This responsibility is only growing as the freedom to publish on all manner of channels increases.”

— Grace Ebert, This is Colossal

Instant wishlist item!

Take Action for Libraries
Image: everylibrary.org

Simple brilliance: a handy step-by-step guide on what to do if you don’t like a book at your local library.

Carmaker Logo Updates: Porsche and JLR
Jaguar Land Rover > JLR
No, that’s really it.

Formerly Jaguar Land Rover, but generally known in the industry as JLR, the British company1Technically, it’s an Indian company, as JLR is a subsidiary of the TATA conglomerate. decided to have a FedEx moment and rebranded. Alas, Paul Rand was unavailable, so there’s no brilliance in the execution. (We’ll absolutely leave whether walking away from Land Rover as a brand is a smart move for another, longer discussion.) Motor1 has the details.

Porsche > Almost all other mainstream car brands

There’s a new Porsche logo!

The new 2023 version of the Porsche logo. (Image: Porsche)

That’s right: it’s a very subtle change. But it’s a significant one, perhaps because it’s only the fifth in the company’s 75-year history:

All five Porsche badges. (Image: Porsche)

The biggest changes are the backgrounds and the prancing horse in the middle, which is completely redrawn. (And, yes, has more than a passing — heh — resemblance to Ferrari’s.)

Not-at-all-staged photograph by Porsche.

Wallpaper* has the best coverage I’ve seen.

Bonus: Motor1 has a roundup of every recent (2015+) automotive change in branding. Of course, I’ve covered most of ’em here, too.

Update: Nissan, already on the updated list above, might be up to something.

PRINT‘s Best of 2023

PRINT reminds us that not everything is digital these days — so much of the work still goes on paper or packaging — in their 2023 roundup of great stuff:

The 2023 PRINT Awards celebrated outstanding design in every shape and form, from the delicate texture and exquisite form of print to digital design that married technical skill with precise craftsmanship.

— PRINT Magazine

The best in show is a brilliant environmental design, the annual reports category is oddly satisfying (I didn’t know that Land O’ Lakes is a cooperative that owns Purina, for instance), the editorial category contains brilliance, and many, many more worthy of a design lover’s attention.

Sadly, their book design category is a bust. I like “The Every,” but pretty much any of my Best of 2022 picks run circles around it (and the other two choices):

The Every as photographed by PRINT.

But there are gems. I really like Bakemono, for instance, a winner in the fonts category and the best monospaced font I’ve seen:

Italian foundry Zetafonts brings us Bake Mono.

It’s a long article (they call it a 74-minute read!), but when you have a moment, grab a drink and an iPad and enjoy — hopefully as much as I did.

And that’s it! Settle into summer, and stay tuned for more soon.

Beautifully Briefed 23.5: Spring Mix

Lettuce first apologize for not having an update in a minute, but I’m going to try to make up for it with this word salad delicious selection of items I’ve been setting aside: ABCD book design, impossible book design, some thoughts on DPReview, Architecture in Music, Hoefler’s typographic illusions, and, because you deserve it, the Great Wave in 1-bit. Enjoy.

Book Design #1: ABCD

“Winner of All Winners,” says The Academy of British Cover Design (ABCD):

Cover design by David Pearson.

“Pearson’s design was judged to be the best book design to have won an ABCD award in its decade-long history,” says The Bookseller.

Meanwhile, their “Best of 2022” list included several I named as well, along with a few I hadn’t seen. The illustration that is the cover design for this young adult title, for instance:

Cover design by Michelle Brackenborough.

Out There fills its “wonderfully weird” billing incredibly well, too:

Cover design by Lydia Blagden.

Alas, the US version:

Cover designer unknown. (Probably just as well.)

I often discuss UK covers when they’re pointed out somewhere, but as a general rule, my book design coverage, for lack of a better term, is US-based. Some other time, I do want to discuss why the UK covers are, generally, better than their US counterparts — as the above illustrates.

Anyway, read Design Week‘s excellent article on those and all the Academy of British Cover Design winners of 2022.

Bonus: I ran across Penguin Galaxy’s 2016 version of an Ursula Le Guin title I’ve got on my read-that-someday list — and love the cover design:

Cover designer unknown — I’ll look into it and update this post if possible.

The whole series is awesome, in fact. Check it out.

Book Design #2: The Impossible Bamboo Hardback

The Eyes & the Impossible the first-ever book to be published in two editions, for two readerships, and from two publishers: Knopf has one, in standard form, for the young adult audience.

The other one, however…:

Cover design concept by the author.

Yes, that’s an illustration showing through laser-cut bamboo, with a glimpse at the red cloth spine. There’s no way to summarize this design story in a way that does it justice, so just go to PRINT and read the whole article. Great stuff.

Photography #1: DPReview Shuttering

Digital Photography Review, long known as just DPReview, is being shut down. Started in 1998 by Phil Askey, it’s currently part of Amazon and is arguably the internet’s leading camera database — with over a thousand reviews of cameras, lenses, and related items, 24,000 articles, some 2.7 million comments, and more.

Perhaps most valuable, and something that will be missed by many, is their large selection of galleries: lenses and cameras, all in a way that can be compared side-by-side, an invaluable tool for those looking to purchase a new toy essential item for their photography bag.

Askey, who left in 2010 (three years after the Amazon acquisition) blasted Amazon’s short-sightedness:

I meant to write about this long before now, but there’s an interesting thing commenting more than a month later: they’re still there. Like many corporate decisions these days (ahem, Twitter), something changed — but it doesn’t matter. The damage has been done, foot shot, whatever. The reporters have moved on, the articles have slowed to a trickle, and updates have been greeted with skepticism.

What a shame.

Photography #2: Architecture in Music

I somehow didn’t write on this one last time I saw it — so when a new series was covered by This is Colossal, there’s no way it wasn’t going to be celebrated here:

“1995 Low C Prestige Bass Clarinet,” by Charles Brooks

Recognize it? No? How about this one:

“The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 8,” Steinway Spirio R piano, by Charles Brooks

Charles Brooks, a twenty-plus-year overran of orchestras around the world and a cellist since childhood, has taken a probe lens and put it inside some of the world’s amazing instruments. The results are magical:

“St. Marks Pipe Organ, Part 1,” by Charles Brooks

See many more here (2023) and here (2022). (See also this post’s header image, “Siete Lunas’ Guitar by Roberto Hernandez.”)

Typographic Illusions

Hoefler & Co. points us at necessary illusions in typography:

Highlighted on Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design, these “cheats” show us that letterforms are so much more than just shapes drawn to stylize characters.

Since a number of people who teach design have suggested that we manufacture these for use in the classroom, I thought I’d take the more direct approach, and make them available as a free download, as a PDF that can be printed on transparencies. Whether you’re teaching typography, studying it, or just giving letters a closer look for the first time, I hope you’ll find these useful.

—Hoefler & Co.

Absolutely. Check ’em out.

One-Bit Wave

Last but not least this Monday morning, let’s please celebrate Great Wave Off Kanagawa — in glorious 1-bit greatness:

I usually use either my Quadra 700 or PowerBook 100, mostly because those are my reliable and easy to access computers (that run System 7, my favourite and most familiar OS of that era).

Software-wise I use Aldus SuperPaint 3.0, which is what my family had when I was a kid. Yes, I’d say that all of this is 99% nostalgia-driven…

—James Weiner

Incredible. There’s more info at his fantastic web site (done, naturally, in the style of a classic Mac system). Thanks to Kottke for the link.

Bonus: As I was writing this, he was posting 1-bit emoji. Sweet!

Have a great week!

Beautifully Briefed 23.3: Kottke’s 25, The Book Cover Review, B&N Back to its Roots, The End of Type 1 Fonts, and I Don’t Want to Log In

This time, the twenty-fifth anniversary of one of my favorite websites, a new book cover review site, an interview with B&N’s CEO, the end of Type 1 fonts, and a world-class rant.

Kottke Turns 25
“Fine Hypertext Products,” indeed.

Jason Kottke has been publishing a blog continuously for twenty-five years — more than half his life — and along the way, earned many an eye. (It’s been a full-time job since 2005.) Some of his thoughts from the anniversary post:

My love for the web has ebbed and flowed, but mainly it’s persisted — so much so that as of today, I’ve been writing kottke.org for 25 years. A little context for just how long that is: kottke.org is older than Google. 25 years is more than half of my life, spanning four decades (the 90s, 00s, 10s, and 20s) and around 40,000 posts — almost cartoonishly long for a medium optimized for impermanence.

I had a personal realization recently: kottke.org isn’t so much a thing I’m making but a process I’m going through. A journey. A journey towards knowledge, discovery, empathy, connection, and a better way of seeing the world. Along the way, I’ve found myself and all of you. I feel so so so lucky to have had this opportunity.

— Jason Kottke, Kottke.org

Cited here often, always brimming with interesting items, and a regular source of learning, Jason deserves massive congratulations. Happy 25! Here’s to many more.

Bonus: Kottke was a guest on Daring Fireball’s The Talk Show. Check the links — Textism! — and enjoy a trip down blogging’s memory lane.

The Book Cover Review
NYT? No, English, actually.

FastCompany points us to a new and interesting cover review site: mostly classic titles, covered in ~500 words “from a range of voices around the world.” Good stuff, with a NYT Book Review look and feel, updated regularly. Give it a try.

The Verge interviews B&N’s CEO
Decode B&N with James Daunt

I’m not a regular listener of The Verge’s Decoder — it’s usually business-centric, going so far as to describe itself as secretly about org charts — but this one’s interesting: an interview between Nilay Patel and Barnes and Noble CEO James Daunt. They cover changes at B&N (with emphasis on why) and, of course, the elephant in any room:

[Amazon is] really terrible at putting a book in front of you that you never thought you’d want to read, that you have no reason to read and no tether to at all. Whereas a bookstore is precisely the place that does that. You pick up the book that you never thought you would want to read, might read, or could even think about reading, by an author you’ve never even heard of until that moment. When a bookseller says, “Look at that,” “Read that when you next come in,” or “I love that,” or whatever it is, all those small, little recommendations are personal and able to attach themselves to books that otherwise have nothing going for them at all.

James Daunt, CEO, B&N

Props to The Verge for providing a full transcript, especially helpful for folks who would rather read the interview than listen to it. Whether you want to read or listen, though, book lovers in the US should take in this interview.

Adobe Discontinues Type 1 Support
Flying Suitcases.

Back in the old days, Type 1 fonts were the backbone of desktop publishing. They were multi-part, often incomplete or corrupted, and always getting in the way of perfect print output — and yet beautiful and opening never-before-appreciated horizons of possibility for your projects.

Now, in these days of OpenType, Google Fonts, and digital output, Adobe has taken the decision to discontinue support for the legacy Type 1 format. TypeNetwork has the full story, along with some options, and there are other converters if you need ’em.

Bonus: TypeNetwork also has all of the Adobe Originals, from back when Adobe was your go-to instead of the corporate behemoth. Classy classics: see the list.

The end of an era. (Via BrandNew.)

The Perfect Rant: Solved
There’s a park calling your name.

One more from The Verge: “I don’t want to log in to your website.” The surge of login and email requests before being allowed to read “free” content is addressed brilliantly:

So what we’re looking at here is creating a worse user experience in order to pursue a variety of scummy money-making schemes. And that sucks because there are no real public spaces on the internet. Here in reality, I can fuck off to a park and hug a tree and sit on a bench and do stuff without ads, without anyone trying to track me, and without having to pay a dime. There was a time within my memory when people tried to make websites feel like semipublic places — you could hang out on someone’s cool blog and enjoy yourself. 

Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge

Read the whole thing, nod in agreement, and go enjoy that park.