Jonathan Gibbs reviews books for The Independent and elsewhere. His novel Randall, about the contemporary art world and the fate of the YBAs, is published by Galley Beggar Press in June 2014.
He blogs on this aspect of his writing at tinycamels.wordpress.com and tweets at @Tiny_Camels
The first thing to note about this book – picked up in a charity shop for 95p – is what good condition it is in, ripped dust jacket aside (worse on the back than on the front – and ignore the dark vertical stripe: dodgy scan), for one printed in 1956. The paper hardly faded, [...]
I’ve been sunk a bit deep in Elena Ferrante over the summer, reading the third volume in her ‘Neapolitan novels’ for review in this newspaper, and then taking part in a discussion with other critics at Foxed Books last week to mark the book’s publication – in preparation for which I read the two of [...]
So we have the shortlist, which leads me naturally to rack up the six books in the running for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and judge them on the purely cosmetic basis of their good looks. In alphabetical order of the authors, then:
First up, Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again At A Decent Hour (links to [...]
Here’s a book that earns its place in the Book Design Blog not so much for its own formal design (though that is clear and pleasing enough) but for its contents: it’s a book by Stuart Tolley celebrating the ‘innovative packing and graphics’ of the best of recent collector’s editions – not just of books, [...]
This appeared on my doormat this week, along with various other books, and I reached for it with a lurch of surprise and – not delight exactly – but expectation. If literature is, as Pound said, news that stay news, then it can be equally thrilling when literature turns its usually eternal, or at least [...]
Series redesigns are the bread and butter of the publishing world – the decent, honourable job of keeping a backlist visible and afloat. Link an author’s books together in their visual style and, you hope, you will fix their ‘brand’ in the reading public’s mind. Make them beautiful – ‘collectable’, that marvellously meaningless word – [...]
It takes a moment for the cover art of Nikesh Shukla’s new novel, Meatspace, to make itself fully understood. It shows a simple one-two of aviator shades and red bow tie, on a white background, with title, author name and quote discretely set in a narrow Helvetica.
You’ll see straight away that the shades and tie [...]
This is the second year I’ve covered the Penguin Design Awards (now, of course, the Penguin Random House Design Awards), in which design students are asked to come up with covers for one adult and/or one children’s book in the Penguin and Puffin ranges – in this case Jonathan Coe’s 1980s social satire, and SE [...]
I love the new cover for Eimear McBride’s Bailey’s-winning – and Goldsmith’s-winning and Kerry Group Irish Novel-winning – A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. This is the mass market paperback, from Faber, following its first publication by tiny Norwich indie Galley Beggar Press (who are, full disclosure, my publisher also). But I think it does [...]
Bethan Roberts’ fourth novel is what you’d call high-concept – it’s got a tagline, there under the title, that seems to tell you everything you need to know about it in one tight, emotive phrase: How does it feel to find your two-year-old gone?
Of course there’s probably more to it than that, and I haven’t [...]