Do We Need Design Annuals as Books?

Posted inDesign Books

Google “graphic design annuals” and up pops a list of design-related magazines (with Print and How high atop the list), publishers, organizations, and online outlets that sponsor competitions for the year’s best design, divvied up into all sorts of categories and classifications, from regional and age-related rubrics to various disciplines: posters, books, book covers, packaging, products, commercial, digital, etc.

Evaluating the output of a multifaceted field like “design,” with its astounding range of talent and originality, and lack thereof, makes sense. Companies can use these lists and competitions to find individuals and agencies to create a new campaign or visual identity; the individuals and agencies can revel in the approval of their peers, while also checking out the rest of the field for inspiration; the sponsors of these juried reviews also benefit, establishing relationships with all sorts of designers while, in some cases, also generating a little cash to cover the costs of running the competitions.

I have no issue with any of this. And I think I’ve made it clear here that I love books, the ones made up of ink printed on paper, stitched together and glued. That said, I am so over big books of the year’s best (kind of) design, or best of (your nationality here) design. I see so many pitches for these sorts of books. I’ll tell you. They all pretty much look the same in terms of what they present, and with so many online design resources, it seems to me that it is time to put these sorts of books to rest.

We all spend so much time in front of our computers, working true, but also checking the latest post on Core77, It’s Nice That, Design *Sponge, FFFFound, perhaps even Imprint. These and oh so many more websites bring the entire world of design right to us. Does such a resource really need to be printed as a big expensive book in this day and age? I don’t think so.

Before Print never lets me write another word for them, I should say that my appreciation to printed matter extends to magazines that dedicate issues to the year’s best design. I take no issue with the fact that some of these issues have more pages and might cost a little more. But there is a big difference between paying $20 or $65 for something you page through from time to time but otherwise sits on a shelf.

So what say you readers? Do you still buy big design annuals or do you find that the internet provides enough resources for you to stay caught up with the year’s best?