Category Archives: Book Design

Books with Psychedelic Covers

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Picking up a book in the 1960s and 70s was a real groovy trip, and that was before cracking it open. Harlan Ellisonand Philip K. Dick were at the height of their game, and far out science fiction was as popular as ever. Imaginative stories set in fantastical universes opened the door to creative book design, resulting in mind-bending covers depicting beautiful supernatural women and optical illusions bursting with every color in the spectrum.

While most of our selection is indeed vintage sci-fi, a gallery of psychedelic book covers isn’t complete without the quintessential tale of the decade that gave birth to The Yellow Submarine and the Summer of Love.  The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe chronicles Ken Kesey‘s iconic drug-fueled bus trip across America in the 1960s. The Milton Glase cover depicts Kesey’s band of Merry Pranksters – the ragtag crew that adopted the author as their pyschedelic leader.

Magazines and paperbacks weren’t built to last, and as a result many of these editions are hard to find today. Take a trip back in time with these psychedelic book covers, and tell us about your favorites in the comment section below.

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The Folio Society: A Conversation with Joe Whitlock Blundell

The Folio Society, based in London, has been producing special editions of classic books since 1947. Joe Whitlock Blundell, design and production director of The Folio Society, answered some questions for us about the enduring allure of the beautifully crafted book and walked us through a Society book’s typical design process.

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Let’s talk about margins

We’re making a book.
The margins are important.
Do you know how important?

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The most beautiful typefaces from June 2014

As another month comes to an end, here’s a look back at all the beautiful typefaces released during the month of June.

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The Magical Illustration of Arthur Rackham

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustration by Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham was an illustrator in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was born in London in 1867. He began studying at the Lambeth School of Art at the age of 18, and soon found his passion and calling. The first of Rackham’s illustrations to be published in a book were in 1893, in The Dolly Dialogues. Rackham never looked back. From that first publication, illustration was his career until the day he died at age 72, of cancer.

In 1905, when Rackham was 38 years old, he created 51 color pieces to accompany Washington Irving’s Rip Van WinkleThe technological advancements necessary to produce color-separated printing was new, and Rackham’s vibrant, lavish style of sumptuous illustration helped propel the edition to the status of instant classic, while simultaneously bringing attention to Rackham and his work, and making a name for him.

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A Wonder Book, illustration by Arthur Rackham

Rackham’s pieces were known for their luxurious use of color and keen attention to detail. His styles ranged easily from vivid, bright splashes of color to more muted, subtle tones. He became a member of the Royal Watercolour Society and mastered the watercolor method of painting, seen in many of his works. Many of the books Rackham illustrated include both his black and white, and color plates. Some, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Wonder Book, include Rackham’s experimentation with partially colored prints, similar to the effect seen with Japanese woodblock art.

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Peer Gynt, illustration by Arthur Rackham

Much of Rackham’s work depicts gnomes, fairies, goblins or other creatures from mythology, folklore or fable. His work has been an inspiration to many, including film director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) and modern illustrator Brian Froud. Beyond the fantastical natural world, Rackham also found inspiration in unusual places, creating his own artistic interpretations of pieces from music and theater, such as Wagner’s operas, or Shakespeare plays.

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Self Portrait, illustration by Arthur Rackham

Whether illustrating whimsical books for children or darker matter for adults, Rackham’s imaginative, brilliant illustration style was highly sought after and enhanced any text it accompanied. Rackham died in 1939, and now, more than 70 years after his death, his work is collectible and beloved. Children and adults alike take pleasure in the unique, beautiful art he provided for some of the world’s greatest stories.

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30 Novels Worth Buying For the Cover Alone

Let’s hear it for the book designers. For every Milan Kundera, Jeffrey Eugenides and Aldous Huxley, there is a Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, a Leah Carlson-Stanisic and a Gregg Kulick – all designers of memorable cover art. They give a visual perspective to somebody else’s written art, find balance in color and shape, simplicity and uniqueness. A book must stand out on the bookstore bookshelf yet cover designers rarely receive the recognition that authors do. In appreciation of these unsung artists, here are 30 of my favorite fiction covers – all worth buying for the cover alone.

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22 Absolutely Stunning Victorian Book Covers

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