Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Penguin Australian Classics

As my country stumbles dickheadedly into the shitbin, a population of bigots and morons led by a government of mendacious and vindictive arseholes, it's nice to have one small positive to note: the design of the Penguin Australian Classics series. This (supposedly ongoing) series of smallish hardbacks have their cover designs printed directly onto the boards.

Designed by Adam Laszczuk, with illustration by Josh Durham, they make use of fields of flat (yet lightly weathered or textured) colour and sharp-edged illustrative elements. Click on each image for much, much bigger versions.

Note that all of these books were already in print from Penguin Australia, some as Penguin Modern Classics: I hope future entries in the series will rescue out-of-print titles from oblivion, as does the sterling Text Classics series.

Broadview Shakespeare

Canadian academic publisher Broadview has a strong line of classics, including a number not available elsewhere. It's just a shame that their books, while usually featuring well-chosen images, have a slightly fusty, clunky style to the designs:

So it was a positive pleasure to come across the redesign of their Shakespeare series. In a style reminiscent of Melville House's Neversink Library (single-colour background, well-chosen silhouettes), they also deploy well-chosen quotes from the plays in nice, big text.

The choice of silhouettes that that are metaphorical (lion) or even jokey (the pursuing bear) add to the cleverness.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Small Publisher Specials #1: Readux

Being the first in a series of posts focusing on the splendid work of small publishers in this small-publisher-unfiendly age.


Readux is a small publisher in both senses of the word--they are a small Berlin-based outfit, but they also publish small (32, 48 or 64-page) books: novellas, short stories and essays, either in the original English or else translated from Swedish or German. These are not little stapled booklets, either: they're proper, perfect-bound books.

Usually published in batches of four, three times a year, each Readux series has a specific look, unified by the overall design of Susann Stefanizen.

Series 1 makes use of surrealistic illustrations by André Gottschalk, full of flat colour and strange elements.

Series 2, all Stefanizen's work, are more abstract, with coloured polygons on textured backdrops.

The most recent series, #3, uses delicate pencil sketches by Lisa Schweizer against worn paper backgrounds.

And then there's the imminent series 4, all eye-warping patterns and neon colours, designed by André Gottschalk and Susanne Stahl, based on their 'See Before Reading' system...

Returning to Susann Stefanizen, here are her beautifully simple geometrical designs for a series of German-published books on music...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Never Any End to Hemingway

The newest English translation of Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas's work is Never Any End to Paris, his thoroughly enjoyable and funny story of a Hemingway-obsessed young Spaniard trying to be a writer in 1970s Paris, with Marguerite Duras, of all people, as his landlady. Published by Harvill Secker, the cover illustration of the pretentious narrator and his hero at a cafe table is by Jörn Kaspuhl... 

..and it rather cleverly plays off the original dustjacket for Hemingway's own A Farewell to Arms

Some of Kaspuhl's more unsettling illustrations, which are derived from casual photos and show people turning into strange cross-species hybrids, were collected in his now sadly out-of-print Humanimal.