Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interview Magazine's New Style

I've been getting Interview magazine for about a year now, and I've enjoyed most every issue. One of the magazine's major premise is that the interviewers are just about as famous as the person they're talking to: Jonah Hill by Edward Norton, Danny McBride by Seth Rogan, John Waters by Gary Indiana. With the September 2008 issue, Interview has relaunched with a new style:

Flipping through the featured interviews in the magazine, I was a little disappointed; the number of celebrity interviews was smaller, and fewer recognizable names at either end of the interview. Hopefully this will improve, or else I'll probably get bored with the magazine. September is traditionally the 'fall fashion' issue, so the greater focus on looking pretty may be an anomaly. As long as I've read it, Interview has been weighed down with a Cosmopolitan-degree of fashion advertisements. That, sadly, continues, but a magazine has to print itself, right?

Unlike Rolling Stone's upcoming destruction of all things holy, Interview is actually larger than it was before, by a good inch. I've always like the tabloid-sized feel of Interview, so I'm glad they didn't go smaller. This 'premiere redesign' issue has a glued spine, instead of the more common saddle-stich, but last year's fashion issue was also glue instead of staples, so it's no indicator of what will come. The paper is also glossier, and although it feels heavier I noticed more bleed-through of text than in my older issues.

A subtle change I didn't notice at first is the logo:

Previous Logo

New Logo
The new logo is sharper, but fails with readability. The original title had a nice space around the R and V in the middle, to help readability, but this new one mushes it all together; even with the dot on the 'i', it looks like Interrew.

The biggest change, it seems, is in font usage.

Before -- Serifs banned:

Now -- Serifs everywhere:
I've always found sans-serif fonts hard to read, but Interview used them in everything -- captions, titles, text were pretty much all Helvetica. The addition of serifs in the readable text will definitely help. The serif font they use in titles and captions looks like the beautiful child of Caslon and Bodoni, which has a nice sharp style about it, and the article text (thankfully for everyone's eyes) looks like Garamond. My first thought was that this looked older, more Rolling Stone-ish and classic-fashion-mag-ish. It could be a good thing; the all-Helvetica look had the feel of a badly-designed blog at times.

A few things I noticed, that I hadn't seen in the magazine before:
  • Capture, a section of cellphone-camera photos that had been sent to the magazine. They don't say how best to send them to the magazine, which I'm sure is to avoid having their email boxes filled with pictures of readers' penises. I mean, more pictures of readers' penises.
  • Nominations, and interesting turn on "fame's reaction to fame," where established artists recommend an up-and-coming artist for future fame.
  • Blogs, which focuses on, um...blogs. It's nice to see the art and literature of the amateur internet get some attention, so I'm curious to see where it goes. Interview has long been at the fringes and cutting edges of art, and it is excellent to see them acknowledging what there is online without trying to shoehorn it in as an author/blogger or artist/blogger who's promoting their new marketable product and (by the way) they got started in blogging. Their premiere entry in this category is The Affected Provincial's Almanack, which I had never heard of before.
These three additions to their standard fare really make me look forward to the next issue -- they're things that aren't seen everywhere. One-page looks at new musicians aren't uncommon, four-page interviews of movie stars are everywhere, but a page or two of reader-submitted photos and interviews with bloggers have a lot of potential. Hopefully next month the magazine will have less fashion, and be back to more interviews of famous people talking to famous people.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Automatically Created Unique Bookcovers

Publisher Faber & Faber is using POD to their artistic advantage: every individual book is printed with a unique cover design, originating from the book's genre, but randomly assembling beyond that point.
While I consider them rather bland, compared to other mass-reprinter who does generic, crappy covers for everything (I'm looking at you Kessinger), it's unique and eye-catching without the publisher having to put a lot of effort into it. (via)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


After yesterday's beautifully simple cover, here's a muddledly amusing cover from this past weekend's thrift shop excursion:

While I find the cover amusing in its strangeness -- "he's a robot: but with human lips!" -- the cover taught me something. G Harry Stine wasn't just an author: he was instrumental in the popularity of model rocketry as a hobby.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Literature of the United States

Found by photographer Paul Octavious, at a library book sale for fifty cents: a simple, effective 1940s cover illustration.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dear Lulu...

Dear Lulu is a book, but a very special book -- it's a test of printing quality, intended to push the "print on demand" high-speed Xerography/laser printing that Lulu uses to produce its books. Verdict: They do quite good for a new technology competing against the offset equipment that's been perfected over the past fifty years. Want to see the book itself? You can own a copy.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Typography Tabletop

I was, at first, worried that this was a lame reproduction, but it turns out these are one-of-a-kind tables made by a craftsman with a huge collection of old poster-sized wooden type. It's called an Alpha Coffee Table -- here's a detail of the top:

I don't much like the steel base, though; the beauty in the wood type should be augmented with a nice cherry structure. I would like to have one, but its pricetag is (deservedly) high. I guess one of these days I'll have to get crafty and build something out of the wooden type I've got in my basement!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Spelling Errors In Paradise

Two men who have devoted their spare time to fixing grammatical errors are now banned from the national park system after pleading guilty to defacing public property. The pair's vigilante group, the Typo Eradication Advancement League, have gotten attention from NPR for their noble cause, but once you've defaced a 60-year-old irreplacable work of art by Mary Coulter, you should expect to feel wrath upon your picky endeavor. via.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Library Patrons In Need

A librarian in Ludington, MI, penned a book about various strange and pitiful library patrons she had encountered while behind the desk, but her literary aspirations have gotten her fired. Painting readers in a bad light is a serious issue to her library, but readers are rarely a problem -- it's the homeless and mentally ill who have nowhere else to go, and end up at the library with its comfy chairs, quiet bathrooms, and unlikeliness of getting arrested. It's serious enough that the ALA addresses the issue, but the problem is mostly homelessness, not the libraries themselves...unless a librarian starts documenting them for her novel. I haven't read the book (or even any excerpts) -- if it's written well, good for her; if it's written humorously, treating people in need as clowns, then I'll have a problem with the book.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reading Esquire In Prison

Inmates do well to spend their time reading, when they've got nothing much else to do. As a publisher, I'd say about once every three months we get a letter from a prison inmate asking for a catalog, or at least more information on the kind of books we publish. The letters rarely contain any useful information (is this for personal use, library-stocking, profit-making resale?), and some clearly have no idea what kind of a publisher we are. However, Wifey and I were talking about this on the drive to Wisconsin a few weeks ago, and noted that one out of every 140 Americans are in prison (source: 1 2 ) is a significant portion of society for whom having access to books would be a greater benefit than most recreational readers. It made us wonder if there's publishers or distributors catering to this, ahem, "captive" market, providing non-contraband books that would provide a value to an incarcerated person, possibly with funding from non-profits or federal grants due to the beneficial nature of the business. As a small niche business goes, we know crime and prisons aren't going away anytime soon, and that's the market to get into according to most entrepeneurial advice.

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Grapes of Wrath: Director's Cut

You've read Grapes of Wrath: if you're American, a high-school graduate, and somewhere between 20 and 50, I can pretty much guarantee you were assigned to read it during your teen years, grown-adult-breastfeeding and all. Thing is, Steinbeck had a fouler mouth than you got to read in most recent editions. Keith Phipps has the 'restored' edition, which has notes on which obscene words were replaced in earlier editions, and it seems "Joan Crawford" was a euphemism for something unholy once upon a time, as near as I can tell.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Kailyard School of Literature

Tonight, I learned about, and wrote about for CQ, an obscure, narrow literary genre (and what's better than an obscure, narrow literary genre?) The Kailyard School is a genre focusing on the lower-class Scottish family. The books are easily identified by their extensive use of the approximation of the Scottish accent and dialect, which makes them harder to read than A Clockwork Orange. I bought two books in thie genre last week, and I hope to read them soon, now that I've learned something about what to expect.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Babes With Books

I wouldn't have linked if it was NSFW, but it seems clean enough -- Babes With Books:

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