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50 Books/50 Covers/50 Critiques

12 Dec 2009

Like most designers, I’m a touch obsessed with book covers. So while in NY I made sure to swing by the AIGA National Design Center to see its current exhibit, 50 Books/50 Covers. I wish I had spent the time grabbing a bagel…oh well.

I was not impressed by the presentation of the Cover winners: prints, cut out and mounted on foam core. The exhibition opened only on Thursday, and they were already beginning to look shabby and manhandled. The show is up through 19 February, and I imagine they’re going to look very sad come then. I don’t understand why the Cover winners were given such short shrift.

The identification labels weren’t especially memorable, but I did like the inclusion of Jurors’ Comments on them. Quite a few of the books and covers were missing labels—disappointment—and some of the comments referenced the back cover or interior to a book that I was holding only a print of—huge disappointment!

The placement and arrangement of the books in the exhibit space left something to be desired. The bookshelf in the center of the room, holding most of the books on display, seemed too small for any more than four or five people to comfortably stand around it and look at books. The books themselves were put into the bookshelf haphazardly and looked sloppy. The stools throughout the room were too short to display books—I quickly became annoyed at having to bend over repeatedly to pick books up. My back began to hurt—and I’m on the short side! Thinking over it now, maybe the stools were meant to be sat upon—take a book from the shelf, have a seat?—an arrangement that could have made for more comfortable browsing.


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