Who wants to read an unreadable book?,
This review is from: Graphic Desigh - Now in Production (Paperback)
The title is based on a touring exhibition of print design originally held at the Minneapolis based Walker Art Museum. The 224 pages are really in two parts: twenty essays by various industry commentators, educators and designers are in self-contained pages and I found some these quite thought-provoking, especially the one by Michael Rock and the three from Ellen Lupton. Perhaps it's unfortunate that several essays fall short of their allotted page space and columns are just left empty at the end.
The second part is where I think it all comes unstuck. These are the image pages that follow each essay. They have hundreds of printed examples crowbarred into each page (it's meant to follow the style of a Paris salon of many decades ago) with their captions set in five point and chunky blocks of copy set in 6.5 on 8 point type. These text blocks, some of which contain hundreds of words, have no paragraphs instead a pilcrow is used to tell the reader where a new par starts. There is no common line-length throughout the book for these blocks of tiny type, it just slots into whatever space is available and amazingly lots of them are set sideways (page 206 has six lines over 10.5 inches). To expect readers to put up with this is a nonsense in a book on communication.
Perhaps a clue to this sloppy editorial can be found on the colophon page part of which says: 'This premodern style of arrangement, which attempts to impose an order and sensibility on an often incoherent assemblage of objects, speaks to our contemporary condition of information overload in an increasingly fragmented search-based culture'. As an attempt I think it fails dismally.
If only the contents of this book had been presented in a format based on clarity and ease of reading it would have got five stars from me.