Most beautiful books in print?
July 25, 2010 3:20 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the most beautiful books, as physical objects, currently in print? I mean simply the best production values and aesthetics: graphic design, typesetting, photography, etc.?
posted by shivohum to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

I'll throw my votes to Ann Carson's Nox (192 pages on once "piece" of paper) or anything published by Taschen.
posted by dobbs at 3:31 PM on July 25, 2010

And if you're cool with magazines, Ride Journal is gorgeous. First two issues as large PDFs.
posted by dobbs at 3:36 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Carl Jung's Red Book. I was lucky enough to see the exhibit at the Library of Congress 3 weeks ago.
posted by lukemeister at 3:42 PM on July 25, 2010

Arion Press (warning: don't look at the prices.)
posted by ecurtz at 3:44 PM on July 25, 2010

PIG 05049. (Author's presentation at TED here.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:45 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible is freaking gorgeous, especially in hardcover.*

Actually most of the books Barry Moser is involved with illustrating and/or designing are pretty awesome.

*And doubly mind-blowingly especially amazing in the limited edition version that is like $10k. I worked in a library that had one, and I was seriously concerned I might drool on it.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:46 PM on July 25, 2010

Mommy? is a work of paper engineering genius.
posted by zizzle at 3:53 PM on July 25, 2010

For those of us with the budget of mortals, I am partial to the series Pharmako Poeia, Pharmako Dynamis, and Pharmako Gnosis by Dale Pendell, Mercury House Press, San Francisco CA.

These are great and gorgeous books.
posted by bukvich at 3:53 PM on July 25, 2010

Peter Beard
posted by pianomover at 4:14 PM on July 25, 2010

If graphic novels are okay, the recently released Beasts of Burden hardcover is a very nicely produced book.
posted by fearthehat at 4:15 PM on July 25, 2010

The Codex Seraphinianus is pretty amazing. There was a smallish reprinting in 2006, but looks like the price has gone back up to ridiculous.
posted by St. Sorryass at 4:15 PM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

I shelled an ENORMOUS amout of money out for this one when I was a poor university student and have never regretted it. Such a beautiful, beautiful book - all my friends ask to look at it whenever they come over.
posted by Wantok at 4:16 PM on July 25, 2010

I've been lusting after this one for a long time.

Taschen books in general are amazing.
posted by electroboy at 4:19 PM on July 25, 2010

Facsimile Editions makes ridiculously true-to-form reproductions of well-known Hebrew texts. Personally I don't find the subject matter interesting, but the books themselves—perfect copies of original texts down to aging, gilding, and the materials used to create them—evoke this lust I know so well. They also cost thousands of dollars, so.

On the other end of the spectrum, On Bullshit is a simple, small book that is perfectly bound for its size and subject matter.
posted by carsonb at 4:32 PM on July 25, 2010

Any pop-up book by David Carter (One Red Dot is a good example). The Griffin and Sabine series is great, as well. Here is an example, but there are many books in the series.
posted by TrarNoir at 4:38 PM on July 25, 2010

The hardcover edition of A day at ElBulli is beautifully done.
posted by cog_nate at 4:59 PM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

in nyc, a trip to printed matter will reveal scores of artists' books. the store's focus is on artwork created for the page (i.e., on the art itself, not on the books themselves), but many of the books have strong production values as well. they're not put out by major publishers, but they are certainly "in print," and i believe the shop requires them to be produced in an edition of 100 or more.

the center for book arts often has exhibitions of books created as art objects (the printed matter web site describes such things as "unique or limited edition craft-objects that formally resemble books, but that are actually closer to sculpture"). see also the san francisco center for the book.
posted by nevers at 7:26 PM on July 25, 2010

Edward Tufte's Beautiful Evidence is stunningly well-produced in every respect - typography, graphics, writing, printing and binding.
posted by impluvium at 7:42 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jen Bervin's The Desert, also other stuff from Granary. Not sure if you're near a major university library, but you might see if they have a collection of artists books.
posted by drobot at 8:05 PM on July 25, 2010

Came here to recommend Codex Seraphinianus, but St. Sorryass beat me to it. I heartily second it; a friend owns a copy and I pored over it time and time again while visiting. It's immensely more pleasing in person, but in case that's not possible, here it is in digital form.
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:45 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Edward Tufte's other books are similarly gorgeous.

House of Leaves also has some interesting/bizarre typography in it.

The Voynich Manuscript is as fascinating as it is beautiful. Nobody really knows what it is -- even the explanation that it's an elaborate hoax is unconvincing.
posted by schmod at 7:57 AM on July 26, 2010

Extraordinary Exhibitions by Ricky Jay is really well done.
posted by cnanderson at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2010

The Humument (slideshow of pages)
posted by juv3nal at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2010

Recording the beatles
posted by Lanark at 12:52 PM on July 26, 2010

Nthing Edward Tufte books.

But I make books, and the ones that make me say "how did they do that" over and over are the McSweeney's Quarterly Concern issues. $55 a year for four issues and never the same thing twice. For every issue that's pages bound between two covers, there are two that ... aren't.
posted by kostia at 9:36 PM on July 26, 2010

If you are interested in fine facsimile editions, you should definitely check out Adeva, Faksimile Verlag, and Moleiro.
posted by sadmarvin at 5:18 AM on July 27, 2010

I immediately thought of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan and his Acme Novelty books. Each book is an art object in itself.

I am a fan of Maira Kalman

ABCD by Marion Bataille
Trail by David Pelham
posted by cross_impact at 12:37 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, also budgeted for mere mortals.
posted by blazingunicorn at 4:10 PM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!
posted by shivohum at 8:30 PM on July 28, 2010

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