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The Book of Books: 500 Years of Graphic Innovationby Michael Lommen
Synopses & Reviews
Since the fifteenth century, the printed book has been an essential carrier of information. And, for more than five hundred years, there have been designers, printers, and publishers who have extended the boundaries of their professions aesthetically and technically, producing books that are masterpieces of graphic art.
This sumptuous collection tells the history of the printed book through milestone publications and little-known treasures of the art of the book. The noted originators range from Jenson and Bellaert in the fifteenth century through Piranesi, Bodoni, and Bewick to Morris, Gill, Tschichold, and Birdsall in the modern age. The featured publications include The Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493—a masterpiece of integrated text and illustration; Maria Sibylla Merian’s book of insects from 1719; Muybridge’s 1887 Animal Locomotion; a photomontage book by John Heartfield published in 1929; and a 1937 edition of The Frogs by Aristophanes, produced by the Limited Editions Club of New York.
"Described in the introduction as a 'visual history' of 'Western book design,' this volume, edited by Lommen, a curator at the Special Collections department of the Amsterdam University Library, is actually a chronological exhibition of beautiful and innovative editions published between 1471 and 2010. Brief text accompanies each example, but neither the introduction nor the postscript provides an overview of printing, book design, or book production history. Also missing is a glossary. Even bibliophiles would appreciate definitions for punchcutter, roman, die, copperplate, or offset technique. But the book's raison d'etre is its glorious reproductions, like a 1729 natural history book in which Mark Catesby created astonishing etchings of a blue bird, a crab, and a magnolia, among other species. By occasionally matching its illustrated works' gutters with the gutter of this book, the publisher reproduces the effect of turning the pages of the original. It is a fun effect, and one suited to a book honoring book design. The specter of the e-book haunts any project related to print books, and this is no exception. However, the print book takes the day here. Illus. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A profusely illustrated visual history of the printed book, from bibles to children’s books to modern photography collections, that will delight and inform bibliophiles everywhere.
About the Author
Mathieu Lommen has published several books on type and book design. He is a curator and teacher of graphic design history at the University of Amsterdam.
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