Arts publishing versus the e-reader

The graphics magazine, Eye, looks at how high-quality art and design publishers have stemmed the digital attrition
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A spread from our new Sottsass book
A spread from our new Sottsass book

At Phaidon, we regard our digital products as equal and complementary to our print offerings. Nevertheless, it's worth questioning why art and design books have resisted the kind of decline in print sales common in other areas of publishing. This is subject of a thoughtful article in the Autumn issue of the international quarterly review of graphic design, Eye. Surveying the market, the magazine’s Robert Hanks argues that, while paper sales of novels have dropped precipitously, the slope for titles such as our own is much shallower. 

Hanks and his interviewees point towards the difficulties in reproducing images on e-readers with the same degree of beauty and fidelity as a well-printed edition, while also revelling in the design attributes of well-turned editions such as our own.

 

A Work in Progress by Rene Redzepi
A Work in Progress by Rene Redzepi

Of course,  Nevertheless, it’s reassuring to see Hanks place emphasis on two of our recent titles: Sottsass, our ‘Brobdingnagian’ three-kilogram monograph dedicated to the late Italian designer, and A Work In Progress, our tripartite, journal-cum-recipe book from the great Danish chef, René Redzepi.

In the case of Sottsass, Hanks praises Phaidon’s design director Julia Hasting, who helped produce a book that was “an appropriately playful, colourful survey of the celebrated designer, with an abundance of sketches and holiday snaps.”

 

A page from Sottsass
A page from Sottsass

With A Work In Progress, the article cites Phaidon’s publisher Emilia Terragni’s work in making cook books so visually appetising. Redzepi’s book – or rather three books: a diary, a volume of recipes and a photo album – is bound with a “fetish-friendly thick rubber band,” Hanks remarks. “You could cook with it. Or you could just stroke it while dreaming of glazed sweatbreads.”

 

 

A wild garlic leaf, as reproduced in A Work In Progress
A wild garlic leaf, as reproduced in A Work In Progress

You could indeed. Read the full article in the September edition of Eye; find out more about Sottsass here; for more on A Work In Progress, go here; and for more on our great new titles, both print and digital, go here.

 



ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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