Subtext: some thoughts on the book
Shortlisted for the 2018 Australian Book Design Awards—Best Designed Independent Book
Subtext: some thoughts on the book brings together a collection of essays, statements and reflections on the book itself. Occasionally contradictory, sometimes personal, often critical, the writings presented within this collection seek to explore and understand the multiplicity of meanings, activities, practices, rituals, conventions, and parts, that surround and make up the printed book and the space it inhabits in the world.
As a medium of physically transmitted and handled communication, the printed book has the unique advantages of aesthetic, tactile, spatial and temporal qualities, and a long tradition and complexity as a communicative form. But it is also an intimate object in a public space. It is an object produced, disseminated, and circulated; the tangible outcome of a multiplicity of practices—of writing, editing, curating, designing, printing, and publishing—and a received object endowed with personal associations, social functions and rituals. A book is the visible, material form of its text, but it is also an object to read, and to own, borrow, share, browse, collect, shelve, discuss, and to display.
Whilst at first glance a seemingly straightforward reader on critical theory, book design and typography, the design of Subtext: some thoughts on the book engages with many of the ideas explored within its collected essays—texts that seek to understand the many meanings of the printed book, its past, its present, and its possible futures, as well as our relationship to the book’s lasting form.
A proposed alternative title and excessive notes and footnotes contextualise and reframe critical and reflective passages, whilst text and visual responses interspersed throughout draw attention to the book’s construction, and allude to the availability, circulation and use of books. These many and varied (gently) subversive interventions within the designed spaces of Subtext’s form, explore what it means to design as well as to read a book, drawing on the familiar and innately understood conventions, parts of the book, and paratextual elements that structure and frame our reception and encounter with the book and its texts.
480pp 5 x 8 inch trade book
Printed on demand
Risograph printed dust jacket + 3 loose inserts