The design of the book as object
Steel, Jeremy Charles
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The book is an important cultural product that, as well as being a site in which text and image can be found, is first and foremost a physical object. To access a text there must always be a physical support through which the text is embodied. When this physical support takes the form of a book, it becomes a designed and coercive space. It also becomes a contributor to the ‘polyvocality’ of the text such that rather than the text being a multiplicity, the book as a whole becomes a multiplicity. This habitation of the text by the materiality of the book occurs because the physicality and visuality of the book helps determine readership. It also contributes to the interpretation and meaning that the reader believes the text possesses. The aim of this thesis is to explore and articulate questions as to how the materiality of the book comes to inhabit the text and what the designer’s response should be. It will be argued that designers should declare their presence in their work, that they should design the whole book and not just the cover, and also that they should seek a design that respects cultural diversity and historical change. The core of this thesis is the nine books I have designed. As such, they are my response to the semiotic and semantic load that the materiality of the book brings to the text.