It has been a bookish winter and spring here at Chronicle Books beginning with the “Defined Bindings” show of custom-bound limited editions of John Carrera’s Pictorial Webster’s Dictionary and now the AIGA’s 50 Books/50 Covers exhibition.
After a year’s hiatus due to a schedule snag, we’ve resumed playing host to the longest running (90 years) juried book and cover exhibition in North America. However, beginning this year, the competition and show will run under the auspices of Design Observer and Designers & Books.
As I mentioned in my remarks at the opening reception, Chronicle has brought the 50/50 show to San Francisco (at first to the San Francisco Center for the Book gallery and, since our move in 2007, to our building lobby) for the last ten years.
That ten years has been one of the more momentous decades in modern history: the rise of the cell–and now smart–phone, the iPad, Kindle, Nook and like-devices that have all vied for readers’ attention and pocketbooks. Despite the disruption caused by those technologies, or maybe because of them, the book is enjoying a moment of resurgent popularity.
Nowhere is that more clear than in this edition of the 50 Books/50 Covers show. While our eyes grow fatigued from hours of staring at screens, our other senses yearn for something real we can touch. Books can satisfy that yen. Cloth, foil, stampings, laser and die cuts, paper: coated and uncoated, smooth and textured, hardcover and paperback, these are the physical features that engage all our senses.
From the smallest (La Présence, 6.75” tall) that fits in the palm of your hand to the largest (LA Day, 16.5”) that more than fills your lap, the selected books and covers, led by jury chair and book designer extraordinaire, Chip Kidd, encompass an array of topics and production techniques for which only paper, printing and binding can do to captivate us.
And captivate they did. While we didn’t conduct a head-count, I think it’s fair to say several hundred people came and went over the course of the opening. Teachers from our two local art schools, CCA and the Academy of Art, their students, designers, representatives of the design community and technology firms that surround our old media company plus Chronicle employees past and present were all on hand to celebrate the book.
Some highlights of the show:
Email design by Kelsey Jones, Tina Hardison, Chronicle Books MarCom
Bookmark design by Kelsey Jones, Tina Hardison
Bibliophiles gather in Chronicle Books lobby
Dispatches and Directions: On Artist-Run Organizations in Los Angeles
Interior of Dispatches showing its ad hoc assembly of materials
Teacher and student open Dispatches to view contents
Destroy This Memory by Richard Misrach
Interior, Destroy This Memory
Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space by Alma Ruiz
Interior of Suprasensorial with red gel overlay that reveals text in second language
Interior from Stop the Violence : Character Studies by Francois Robert
Dutch Heights 1: Highlights of the Arts and Cultural Prizes
1st Fl. 111 N State St. by HeyJ Min
Chump Change and Mooch by Dan Fante
Themes of Psychoanalysis series
McSweeney’s 36th Issue
Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam
And I would be remiss if I did not mention that six Chronicle books were selected for inclusion in the 50/50 show: