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Martin Em

Bookshapes - July 1982

July 1982, no. 42 18 October 2022
In a spirit of optimistic support for the APBA’s Book Design Awards, publishers entered 233 books for the 1981 competition, the thirtieth to be held. The judges made short work of their hopes. ‘Best book’ awards were made in only two of seven categories – children’s books and the section for best jacket or cover, won by The Frog and the Pelican (Methuen) and Homesickness (Penguin) respec ... (read more)

Martin Em on the APBA Design Awards 1979

May 1980, no. 20 18 October 2022
A revolt! Well, that is a welcome change, even if the awards produced some inconsistent results. Arthur Leydin, the chairman of the judges, has reacted violently against ‘good taste’ and ‘Englishness’ this year, and books which in other years might have carried off first prize, such as MUP’s Ludwig Becker (designed by Len Trenkner, printed by Wilke, and a 2½-pica book by my reckoning), ... (read more)

Bookshapes - November 1979

November 1979, no. 16 18 October 2022
Notes of an Australian Vine Grower, by Hubert de Castella. Mast Gully Press, Melbourne. Printed and bound by Griffin Press. The first book of yet another publisher of limited editions deserves our close attention. The cult of the limited edition has many followers in Australian publishing today. Some of them work on the principle that if you limit the edition, you can delimit the price, and that ... (read more)

Bookshapes - August 1979

August 1979, no. 13 18 October 2022
Northam, an Avon Valley History, by Donald S. Garden. Oxford University Press. Designed by Alison Forbes. Printed by Brown Prior Anderson. A letterpress book, one of the last of the tribe! I picked it up with pleasure. A clean design (title-page a bit subdued, perhaps?); very consistent and even printing, with the pages beautifully backed up; the creamy Burnie MF a pleasant change from the white ... (read more)

Bookshapes - July 1979

July 1979, no. 12 18 October 2022
The New South Wales Prices Commission has been listening to complaints that books are overpriced. I meanwhile have been looking at some of the award-winning and commended books in the Children’s Book Council 1978-79 competition, and I am here to say that whatever may be claimed about some kinds of book, children’s books are cheap. It is amazing. In front of me is Ruth Manley’s Book of the Y ... (read more)

Bookshapes - May 1979

May 1979, no. 10 18 October 2022
It has been suggested that ‘picas’ should again be awarded to books discussed in this column, on the scale of excellence of nought to three established by my predecessor, Peter Pica. Well, I will try; but I point out that what I am looking at is the success or otherwise of books in their own field; I am not trying to relate different kinds of books to one immutable standard of design and produ ... (read more)

Bookshapes - April 1980

April 1980, no. 19 18 October 2022
I hope to write about the ABPA’s 1979–80 design awards in this issue, but my deadline has arrived and news of the winners has not. From the eligible titles that I have seen, my own choice as Book of the Year is Emily Hope’s The Queen of the Nágas, published in an edition of 500 copies by Nomad Press, of Melbourne, and distributed by William Collins. This story of ancient Asia, illustrated ... (read more)

Bookshapes - February/March 1979

February–March 1979, no. 8 11 October 2022
The Australian book is by and large a good-looking piece of merchandise. Surveying the pile of Christmas titles that thudded onto my desk right till the end of the year, I am struck by the air of careful grooming that most of them possess. Could one have said that of the Christmas books of 1968? Sophistication and confidence have advanced hand in hand and taken Australian publishing over. However, ... (read more)

Bookshapes - January 1979

December 1978–January 1979, no. 7 11 October 2022
At the presentation of the Australian Book Publishers Association design awards for 1977–8 in Sydney last April, during a cocktail party at the association’s annual conference, I was struck by the inattentiveness of the gathering. A representative of the P&O Company, awarding for the first time a prize of $1000 for the book of the year (The Birds of Paradise and Bower Birds, published by W ... (read more)

Bookshapes - June 1979

June 1979, no. 11 09 September 2022
1915 By Roger McDonald. University of Queensland Press The dustjacket designer Christopher McVinish has given the title of this novel an unforgettable identity, with the figure of a soldier superimposed in red on the second one of 1915, which is in black. It is a powerful image that immediately announces the subject of the novel. Most of what follows is disappointing, and apparently not due to ... (read more)