Old Media, and New
I’m Alan, and I edit the art and design books here at Chronicle. It often sounds confessional to say that, perhaps because it’s a pleasure and honor to make our books come to light. Within our diverse offerings, there are a few books in particular that break boundaries and become true cultural events. We were so pleased to hear recently that Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation won the prestigious Theatre Library Association Award for the best book about film, television and radio in 2006.
This is a great honor, and one that a Chronicle book has won twice in the past few years (The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting won in ’02). Amid will receive the award in New York at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on June 1—so the Book Expo will not be the only game in town that night.
Cartoon Modern was significant in a few ways, from concept to completion. Its author, Amid Amidi, is cofounder and host of the most thoroughgoing animation blog around: cartoonbrew.com. As an animator and industry insider himself, Amid is a rare author: articulate, upbeat, totally engaged with and deeply knowledgeable of his subject, and respected by his peers.
The online buzz around the making of this book was unique in my experience, and attested to the convergence of the fusty old industry that is illustrated book publishing (read: slow) and the hypercatchy medium of blogs (fast). When Amid conducted an inclusive, non-binding poll of his readers to vote on the various jacket designs that had been proffered so far, the results were eye-opening.
What we had pragmatically hoped for—clear consensus—was not achieved. Instead, the big ideas behind the internet came to life: divergent, informed, impassioned opinions that represented the wide spectrum of the audience for this book. No cover direction was clearly favored, but the community around the book was invested in the process, pointing to potential new models of how we announce and make books.
So congratulations to Amid and the readers of Cartoon Modern and cartoonbrew. You all helped make this book a success and taught a small but significant lesson to an “old media” company and editor.
From now until June 15th, use redemption code “cartoon” at checkout and receive free shipping when you buy Cartoon Modern on-line.
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