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Digital Publishing Worrying You? Read This . . .

W. A. Dwiggins (1880–1956), the man who more or less gave us the term “graphic design,” had a biting wit, best expressed through his writing. He slyly and directly advocated the marked improvement in book design during the 1920s and 1930s and wrote much on the graphic arts, notably essays collected in MSS by WAD (1949) and his Layout in Advertising (1928; revised edition, 1949). Dwig’s wit had teeth, and much of his bite was reserved for the “graphic design” field, especially the quality and standards of book design and manufacture.

Here is one of his most famous satires-cum-white-papers: Extracts from an Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books as They Are at Present Published. As this chart reveals, Dwig did not mince fever lines . . .

I offer here, some excerpts from “the extracts” that Dwig had so pitch-perfectly recorded, with his characteristic wink and nod. For those of you who want more, check your local libraries. Copies have been known to be hidden away.


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