The Alcuin Society

Alcuin Society Book Design Awards24th Annual Awards for
Excellence in Book Design
in Canada

for books published in
2005

Franšais | This Year's Judges

 

Pictorial

The production values are generally quite high in the submissions in this category. The entries as a whole fall into two groups. There is a large group in which the typography is really very sloppy, even though the images are interesting and well-placed, and in general well printed. In these, it appears as if the designer or the publisher concluded that only the images matter, and the typography is secondary. In the other group, also fairly large, the typography is good, in general, but is not always coordinated with the images in a meaningful or interesting way.

Pictorial 1st Prize back to general winners

Title

Wild Prairie : a Photographer's Personal Journey

Designer

Peter Cocking

Author

James R. Page

Publisher

Greystone Books

Photographer

James R. Page

Printer

C & C Offset

Trim Size

22 × 26cm

Wild Prairie

Comments

This book has a lovely jacket. Inside, spread after spread is very well balanced. There is an excellent balance between the text and the images, and the book is a model of its kind, except for the printed case, which is fortunately hidden by the dust jacket. The case resembles a cheap blank book and bears no relation to the book that it contains, or to the jacket by which it is contained. The title spread is also undistinguished. The other spreads, from the copyright page to the final photograph, look very carefully considered, and many of the photographs in this book are in themselves very impressive work.

Pictorial 2nd Prize back to general winners

Title

Saskatchewan : Uncommon Views

Designer

Alan Brownoff

Author

John Conway

Publisher

The University of Alberta Press

Photographer

John Conway

Printer

Priesens

Trim Size

28 × 25cm

Saskatchewan : Uncommon Views

Comments

This book seems to us very sensitive to its subject matter. The sparseness of the page spreads, the small sans serif type, the very considerable white space, allow the images to breathe. The colour has an excellent lightheartedness; so do the title spreads; and all of this suits the subject. So does the overall format and scale of the book. The spreads are refreshingly asymmetrical; the photographs are often very funny, and, at the same time, quite poignant. It is difficult for typography to keep up with images like this. The designer has dealt with the problem by making the type as unobtrusive as possible.

Pictorial Hon. Mention back to general winners

Title

Arborealis

Designer

Robert Tombs & Thaddeus Holownia

Author

Peter Sanger & Thaddeus Holownia

Publisher

Anchorage Press

Photographer

Thaddeus Holownia

Illustrator

Robert Tombs (map)

Printer

Hemlock Printers

Trim Size

49 × 26cm

Arborealis

Comments

This book has a very impressive slipcase. It is an extravagant work, with beautiful photographs beautifully printed. We are disturbed by the positioning of the poems on most of the spreads. The pages are extremely wide, as they must be to suit the photographs. The poems that accompany the photographs, however, are written in very short lines, and these poems are almost invariably positioned so close to the gutter that even when it is wide open, the book seems to swallow the text. The book would be greatly improved by the simple expedient of repositioning the text block on every spread where a poem and image are combined. While this is an unusual book of unusual dimensions, the problem from which it suffers is one that is actually very common in book design. It appears that the book was designed without any consideration for the fact that it would ultimately be bound. A bound book is a three-dimensional object, quite different from the perfectly flat spreads the designer works on as he sits at a drafting table or a computer screen. It is necessary to envision the book as the bound three-dimensional object that it will become.

Pictorial Hon. Mention back to general winners

Title

Cape Dorset Sculpture

Designer

Peter Cocking

Author

Derek Norton & Nigel Reading

Publisher

Douglas & McIntyre

Photographer

Kenji Nagai

Printer

Priesens

Trim Size

21 × 27cm

Cape Dorset Sculpture

Comments

The book is handsomely printed, the typography very spare, an allusion, perhaps, to the Arctic landscape. But in this book, as in many exhibition catalogues nowadays, there is a fundamental inconsistency between the illustrations and the typography of the captions and other bits of text. By and large, the works of art reproduced in this book are free of any artistic pretension or arrogance. They emerge from a world that has more to do with television than it has with the classic rigour of museum culture. The typography, however, remains as cold and formal as one would expect in a catalogue of classical Greek sculpture. What we have in the illustrations is, in effect, a kind of soapstone soap opera: polar bears playing accordions, wolverines posing for journalists, and so on. The typography, however, never cracks a smile.

Pictorial Hon. Mention back to general winners

Title

Takao Tanabe

Designer

Jessica Sullivan & Peter Cocking

Author

Ian M. Thorn, Roald Nasgaard, Nancy Tousley, Jeffrey Spalding

Publisher

Douglas & McIntyre

Photographer

various

Printer

Friesens

Trim Size

23 × 28cm

Takao Tanabe

Comments

This is a book we all wanted to like. It has one serious flaw, and that is the vertical skew of the text spreads. Over and over again, there is a jarring disjunction between the recto and verso pages. If this bore any relation to the images or the underlying character of Tanabe's painting, it could be welcome, but there is no such relation that we are aware of. The spreads that are dominated by illustrations are in general very successful; the dust jacket is handsome; but the spreads where there is nothing but type always have an arbitrary character. The type itself is well set, the typeface well chosen. The captions are unobtrusive and comfortable to read.

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