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Christmas list 2

Christmas list 2

Some new/newish books about magazines for your Amazon wishlist to Santa:

100 Years of Magazine Covers is a big, fat but rather confused book. In fact it feels like two books shoe-horned together. The text by Steve Taylor (editor of The Face in its heyday and now an editorial and brand consultant) attempts to be very academic, while the design, by Neville Brody's Research Studios, is over-complex. The result is that the text and images head off in different directions, with little interaction between the two. The text is strong in history and fact but made hard by its language, the images vary in scale too much, and the captioning is sparse in information. And no index! This aside, though, there are some great covers displayed so while flawed in the broader sense it remains a strong sourcebook, with material ranging from early Victorian publications through the fifties movis mags, the sixties underground press, punk fanzines, the eighties style mags and todays independents (Modern Toss, Little White Lies). And it's not scared to include the likes of Heat. Compared to the similar-sounding Magazine Covers (David Crowley, Mitchell Beazley) this is a far wider-reaching book that unearths some surprises. Crowley's book is much more the straight, historical run down of covers over the years. (Steve Taylor, Black Dog Publishing)

Mag-art: Innovation in Magazine Design and Packaging is a visual survey of recent magazines concentrating on special formats and the more out of the ordinary. Primarily a picture book, it contains lots of small projects from the experimental/independent end of the scale (The Believer, Blag, SoDa and Ei8ht) plus a few more mainstream examples (Jalousse, Grafik and GQ Style). Also a series of brief interviews with people behind titles including +Rosebud, Gum and Amelia's Magazine. Instead of the more usual flat reproductions, the book features photography of the publications as objects, necessary given the type of project it covers but a pleasant change from endless flat covers. (Charlotte Rivers, RotoVision)

The Last Magazine should be published by now but I haven't seen a copy yet. This sounds like the a very interesting book, the best of this bunch. Author David Rennard runs a US magazine distribution consultancy specialising in international independent titles. Designed by Vince Frost and featuring contributions from the ubiquitous Steven Heller and i-D's Terry Jones, this claims to describe the future of publishing. More when I see a copy (David Renard, Universe)

SPD Solid Gold: 40 Years of Award-Winning Magazines is compiled by the US Society of Publication Designers as an overview of their awards programme since it began in the sixties. As such it's a strong visual history of that particularly American editorial design style exemplified by Rolling Stone
, GQ and Esquire. It's a strangely small-format book for such a large subject, and the reproduction quality lets it down. But it's a good place to find images from titles you've heard of but never seen, and includes some brief interviews with some of the award-winners. (SPD/Rockport)

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