Book People | November 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Book Art at Barnes & Noble


Tonight at my local Barnes & Noble, book artist, author, and FB&C columnist Richard Minsky did a talk/signing for his new book, The Book Art of Richard Minsky. As one of the five books we highlighted in our holiday gift guide this year, you may already be aware of this stunning new retrospective of Minsky's book art, which is available in a trade edition from your local bookseller or a limited slipcase edition direct from Richard. But those were not the only books on display while Richard shared some stories of his bookmaking. There was also the Barnes & Noble 2012 Desk Diary (day planner, calendar, whatever you call it) featuring the American decorated bindings that Richard has been researching, collecting, cataloguing, selling, and celebrating for years. (He chronicled many of them in his 2010 book, The Art of American Book Covers: 1875-1930.) There is a hardcover version of the Desk Diary, which comes in its own box, and two faux leather softcover versions, all of which are beautiful for those of you who, like me, still keep a written calendar. And, at under $20, the price is perfect for gift giving.

Richard showed some images from each of his books, read a short entry on how he designed his first unique binding, and talked about what he looks for in great book art, or fine art to be more broad. "Material, image, and metaphor," must all be in balance, he said. When asked about what he finds interesting in commercial publishing, he cited the ingenuity of pop-ups and moveable books and a revival of stamped covers, such as can be seen in B&N's redesigned "classics." Some new Penguin hardcover classics also have stamped cloth covers (designed by the awesome Coralie Bickford-Smith) as do recent bestselling children's books like The Dangerous Book for Boys (U.S., 2007). If we are trending away from jackets and back to decorated cloth, we'll have Richard Minsky to thank.