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Friday, October 19, 2007

The James Madison Library in American Politics

I found the Goldwater cover while looking at the design of Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal (believe me, it's not worth posting) and quickly discovered it was part of a series from Princeton University Press. I like these, but can't stop thinking that Goldwater and Schlesinger are flying in on their magic saucers to save the souls of their fellow believers, and that both are riding goofy foot.


Ian Shimkoviak said...

That's funny man.
And to think that this was considered very modern at the time—look at the array of typefaces!

Greg said...

Hey, nothing wrong with goofy foot riders.
Really though, these almost look like something done recently, toungue-in-cheek.

Dean said...

Actually, they are recent: 2007 from Princeton University Press, according to the website.

The cool thing about the Goldwater cover is how elegant the typography is. It's slightly unusual in the setup, but unusual in a way that harkens back to pre-computer days, unusual in a way that places a high importance on typography, unusual in a way that works.

Unfortunately, the same attention to detail isn't carried out in the other covers. The Schlesinger cover is good, although I would have preferred the type FL as it is on the Goldwater cover; it's one of those "unusual" things that makes the cover work. But the other two covers leave me wondering what went wrong. The lines could have worked, but they are so random. And the huge space between John Kenneth and Galbraith is sadly attention-getting.

As for the flying saucers, they help make the covers shine. They remind the viewer of past printing styles while also pointing you toward the typography. I don't think I would have thought to try something so odd, but it works. Well done!

Ian Shimkoviak said...

I guess I don't understand the pun here. There is an obvious degradation in consistency for all of these. The type faces and over all grid is appreciated, but the lack of carry through is lost on me. I don't understand the logic behind emulating the very things that drove designers and printers nuts in those days: Lack of control over the end product. Why would this be played up or hinted to. It look sloppy. And again, I get the whole simulation of the past—just not in application and relation to these titles. They almost look like repros of the original covers. Is that possible???

I do like the appeal of these though. The naivety of these covers and the almost silly juxtaposing of the stark halftone with the red saucers is classic and reflective of the time period. Above all it's an interesting solution to say the least. Don't know if they'll send the test of time this time around anymore than they did the first time around.

Maria Lindenfeldar said...

As the designer of this series, I'm glad to see that it's getting some attention, even if it is to mixed reviews.

Just to settle any dispute, these are new covers done tongue-in-cheek with an affected naivete. Years ago, I saw a cover by Paul Rand (or someone of his ilk--couldn't dig up the source this morning) that used a red disk in a similar way. That idea was a jumping off point for the whole series. The reference to twentieth-century book design seemed appropriate as the collection was to be reissues of works by iconic twentieth century figures.

I especially appreciate Dean's criticisms. The Lippmann and Galbraith covers (and the Schlesinger cover to a lesser extent) were on a particularly tight schedule, and I gave in to the temptation to plug type into a format. I made the mistake of thinking that no one would notice!! Thanks for the wakeup call.