An unrepentant bookstore browser–I am fascinated by the variety of design contained within my preferred section. Given the predilections of the LS community, I thought I might offer the beginnings of an open-ended cultcrit/tHEORY/osophy bookdesign awards list; seeing as how something as inane and omnipresent as design can only be properly approached by something equally anodyne and saturated. Also, we like lists.
Fellow fetishists are encouraged to add their own accolades or critique as needed:
Lifetime achievement award for general excellence – Verso – pretty much all good here, wo es war, Phronesis, cosmetically enhancing Baudrillard’s late hackery (Screened Out, anyone?) …. but
Most notable exception to said excellence: The fauxtidian radical thinkers series, I was really embarrassed when I saw this, luckily their selections have been solid, and the second round wisely went Futuristic – still hideous, but less offensive.
Most consistent offender: Continuum – esp. the 101 ‘impacts’ shit with the block letters
Most unforgivable effort: Being and Event – Continuum – just a massive disappointment – looks like an overwrought beach novel.
Janus award – Stanford –
(Archetypal ugly: LL's Typography – two colors locked in a gruesome deathmatch, but who will win? My money is on ‘corpse grey’)
Most unfortunate redesign –
Best Use of Artificial Color: Zone Books
Unclear on the Concept:
Most delightful exception to a largely comedic history: The October series from MIT – not that that crowd would expect any less, but still, very nice.
Most forgivably over-designed readers: Routledge
Most unforgivably over-dramatic readers: Blackwell
Most readable typeface: MIT, Stanford
Most absurdly small typeface:
Most elegant layout of text/chapters: MIT, Continuum
Box-of-chocolates typeface: Verso