The Printed Book

The publication The Printed Book: A Visual History will be launched on Tuesday 7 February in the University of Amsterdam library’s Special Collections department. The richly illustrated volume provides a broad historical overview of western book design. The presentation will take place at the opening of the exhibition of the same name.

Book launch
Guest speakers will include Alice Rawsthorn, a design critic and writer for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Cees W. de Jong will present the first copies of The Printed Book to designers Derek Birdsall, Helmut Brade, Irma Boom and Joost Grootens, whose work appears in the book and exhibition.

The Printed Book
surveys the history of well-designed books from the Middle Ages to the present. Compiled by the Special Collections graphic design curator Mathieu Lommen, it shows the western book in all its guises, taking in cheap paperbacks, "coffee-table books", reading machines, picture books, reference works and art books. The Printed Book is a publication of Amsterdam University Press.

The show features famous works from past centuries produced by printers such as Nicolas Jenson, Aldus Manutius, Christoffel Plantijn and Giambattista Bodoni. Printers' manuals illustrate how the production process has changed over the years, and calligraphy books and type specimens give a wide-ranging view of the evolution of letters. The exhibition also devotes plenty of attention to the modern industrially manufactured book and its designers and artists, such as Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, AM Cassandre, Jan Tschichold and Irma Boom. The newest works show how the printed book is increasingly taking on the status of a statement against ebooks.

This unique display is made up entirely of objects from the Special Collections. The Amsterdam agency Experimental Jetset designed the exhibition. The show and book have been made possible in part by Premsela.

Invitation by Experimental Jetset.
The Printed Book

Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Editor: Mathieu Lommen
Format: 455 pages, full colour
ISBN: 978-90-8148-923-2
Cover price: €49.50