At their simplest, books are bound pages of Times New Roman drivel, at their most elaborate, they are rich creative explorations at the heart of the graphic medium. In the main, authors get paid a pittance writing them and graphic designers over-indulge their time creating them. What for? Well, for the love of books.
Here at Detank, we tend to focus our attentions on three-dimensional design and objects so it might come as a surprise that we review a book that focuses on its two-dimensional self, the book. However, one thing we do have a particular affinity for is anything we deem collectible and, indeed, books are just that.
It was a quotation within one of the essays published in Fully Booked that inspired us to look at publications on a similar playing field as design objects.
“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.” – Henry Ward Beecher
How utterly true. Books are an intellectual accessory and necessity to life. In the best way possible, they are self-indulgent for both the author and the reader yet the easiest and most practical object to share and exchange. Books are fully recyclable but have you ever thrown one away? They are the most cumbersome object to move en masse yet somehow we insist on taking them from home to home as we move throughout our lives. So many other objects just come and go.
Full bookcases reflect our interests at various moments in the past, going some way to portraying who we are to any visiting browser. The smorgasbord of differently coloured spines quite often contains a lifetime of reading. As Schopenhauer said: “It would be great if you could buy with the books the time to read them.” Well, one thing that you can enjoy more fluidly is the graphic design of these bound objects.
And it is within Fully Booked that such cover art and book design is celebrated. It is hard to believe that we ever thought the internet would spell the end of printed publications. This book proves the opposite – the medium has flourished as artists and designers have continued to exploit the tactile appeal of holding a book, while pushing the capabilities of materials, paper stocks, cutting and folding techniques, embossing, bindings, and special finishes. The variety of graphic styles featured within this book spans from recognisable mass-market titles to handcrafted or limited edition artist books. I’m not going to dwell on specific examples within this book as this is a publication that works as a visual treat in its entirety, and one that deserves a thorough thumbing.
Edited by R. Klanten & M. Hübner
Price: £35; $75; €49.90