Same Old, Same Old, Only Different

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In 1967-68 WESTVACO sponsored a Book Conference about how production people and designers should focus on changes in the book world. It was the same old concerns, only different than the digital issues faced today. The result were a series of panel conversations, which included Bradbury Thompson, representing book designers. As a document of the panels, WESTVACO published and Thompson designed a series of booklets devoted to different aspects, including “The Present and Future of Film Typesetting,” “Type Faces, Printing Processes and Papers,” and “The Creation and Production of Book Illustrations.”

Each booklet was designed in the classic manner that Thompson did so well, with the title panel of each cover typeset with a different face from Garamond to Univers. To say the quality of printing and paper was flawless is an underestimate. Such care and finesse afforded this topic of discussion is emblematic of how certain designers and vendors viewed their responsibility to the field. Here is an excerpt from the Preface:

In the past 25 years, virtually every facet of American industry has been affected by far-reaching changes in production methods. Faster, bigger, better, more economical: these have become the watchwords. The book industry is no exception; witness the remarkable transition from letterpress printing to offset during this decade! The phenomenal growth of offset, in turn, has necessitated many changes in those related fields which serve the book industry, notably paper manufacture.

Report on the Book Seven and Six
Report on the Book Spread
Report on the Book Spread


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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →