Perhaps due to their location far from the publishing epicenter of New York City, the San Francisco institution Chronicle Books has never been afraid to experiment with the form of the printed book. From Nick Bantock’s Griffin & Sabine—an innovative release told through removable letters—to Kelli Anderson’s This Book is a Planetarium, which literally unfolds to be one’s personal planetarium, Chronicle has pushed boundaries. The publishing house also notes that they were the first to release paperback cookbooks with full-bleed photography, and were the first to produce art books in paperback format for lower costs and greater public access to such titles.
All the while, they have pursued a standard of design excellence, with a steady stream of covers reflecting the aesthetic of their times—and often perhaps exceeding or establishing it.
This month, Chronicle turns 50. To celebrate, the San Francisco Center for the Book is hosting Chronicle Books: Born in the Summer of Love, curated by Chronicle creative director Michael Carabetta.
Carabetta selected 50 adult titles (arranged chronologically by year of release), 30 children’s books and 25 gift items for the exhibition, chosen for their impact on the field and in the company’s history.
The show will kick off with an opening reception June 23 and will run through Sept. 24, with an artist talk featuring Chronicle’s in-house team on Aug. 18. Anyone who makes a $20 donation to the Center for the Book can also snag a limited-edition hardcover of Chronicle Books: The First 50 Years.
And if you can’t make it out, here are 25 pieces from the exhibition—from Chronicle’s very first book to its most current.
2000—Chronicle’s first book to debut at No. 1 on The New York Times’ bestseller list.
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