BOOKS SELECTED BY KATI KRAUSE

By Kati Krause | Intro: Teresa de Andrés. July 20, 2012

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Kati Krause is an editor, writer and curator. She has left her mark in magazines such as Ling and Colophon, in books such as A Smart Guide to Utopia and A Weird & Wonderful Guide to Barcelona and in festivals such as Art Brut and Art Battles.

In October 2011 she created, together with Olivier Talbot, Tinta de la Casa, a quarterly exhibition of independent magazines from around the world. She is passionate about publishing and the effervescent combination of offline and online media. 



“A book is a sensory experience,” a bookseller says in the documentary The Future of Print, and I agree: I believe that, not being the only game in publishing town anymore, books are having to reaffirm their value as desirable physical objects, and that’s a good thing because it means they’ll become more creative and beautiful. Therefore my selection consists of books that exist because of print, not in spite of it, and that you would not want any other way.
 

Everything We Miss | Luke Pearson, Nobrow Press

Everything We Miss, Luke Pearson, Nobrow Press 2011

Nobrow Press is a small London publisher of art and illustration books using spot-colour and screen-printing technique, and as a new company they understand today’s importance of quality in print and paper stock. But apart from being beautifully printed, Pearson’s graphic novel is a masterpiece: the story of a failing relationship shows us how much we miss, around us and about each other, due to unfortunate coincidences or because we simply don’t look properly, busy as we are. It’s something very hard to express in words, and Pearson manages to capture the sentiment so perfectly without them that it hurts a little bit. What I took away from the book is that the world and human relations are much more complex and stranger than we tend to think.

 

McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern | McSweeney’s Publishing

McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, McSweeney’s Publishing

This is a quarterly literary magazine in book form rather than a book, but it teaches a lot of valuable lessons to book publishing: namely, how book design can respond to and add to the content (which in the case of McSweeney’s is always outstanding). Every edition is completely different – different size, format, paper stock and design – depending on the theme or the publishers’ whims. The Fables issue was eight little books packed into one box, one recent cover was done in disappearing ink, and once they decided to scrap the book altogether and publish a sample newspaper, the San Francisco Panorama, to show newspaper publishers what changes they must undertake to remain relevant. I warmly recommend a subscription.
 

Great Ideas Series | Penguin Books

Great Ideas Series, Penguin Books

Penguin have long mastered the art of the great book cover, but the Great Ideas series stands out even by their standards. The two-colour embossed covers, designed in retro typefaces by David Pearson, make the series so attractive that you want to have them all – and this is philosophy that we’re talking about, much of it by obscure writers that Penguin was struggling to keep in print! The beautiful design, together with the small format and stripped-down content (and the cheap price) made them so attractive that tens of thousands of people suddenly started reading Epictetus and Kierkegaard. Quite a feat.
 

A Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona | LE COOL Publishing

The Weird & Wonderful Guides, Le Cool Publishing

In this case, I’m biassed: I edited the second edition of the Barcelona guide in 2011. But I still believe – or rather, I learned, and the hard way – that these are a special kind of books. The idea behind them is that they are like a good friend taking you by the hand and showing you around the city, and the entire storytelling experience and design should reflect that concept. That means they’re very different from other guide books in both look and content – the quirkier, the better. That means they’re hardly practical (the new Barcelona guide is ordered as a 24-hour day, with recommendations fitting the time of the day) but they encourage serendipity and personal experiences, which I find makes for the best kind of travel.
 

Beyroutes, A Guide to Beirut | Studio Beirut, Archis

Beyroutes: A Guide to Beirut, Studio Beirut, Archis

I’m a fan of guide books and the different ways you can approach a place and tell stories about it. Beyroutes, which came with the Guide issue of Volume magazine, is an attempt to explain a very complex place not in a detached, academic way, but in an emotional one. Basically they simulate familiarity by telling many small stories from a subjective angle, which results in this effect of “a thousand glimpses” that you have when travelling. After reading the book, you feel both that you know Beirut and that you urgently want to see what you’ve read for yourself. I haven’t yet done the second part, but it’s top of my list.
 

A Tree of Codes | Jonathan Safran Froer, Visual Editions

Tree of Codes, Jonathan Safran Foer, Visual Editions

In a storytelling experiment, Safran Foer took Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles (his favourite book, apparently) and, using die-cut technique, created a new book by carving out words and letters. The idea isn’t completely new, but what makes this one special is, one, that is is that the book is actually printed as the original with missing bits, turning it into something of an artwork, and, two, that the “new” book is actually a really good read (even though [one] means that reading requires the aid of a sheet of paper to separate the pages). It provides food for thought for academia about what constitutes original writing, and for writers and book publishers about where else they could go with today’s printing possibilities. Because possibilities there are plenty.

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