Ending the year on a decorative note

[Alyson Kuhn] To thematically end my second year of posts for Felt & Wire, here is an array of enticing endpapers, courtesy of Chronicle Books.

Inside The Little Book of Letterpress, by Charlotte Rivers. It is little: 6-3/4 x 7-1/4 in.

In the early days of book production, printers used marbled paper to embellish the interior of their books, and this look is still popular for limited editions. Michael Carabetta, creative director at Chronicle Books, comments, “While we don’t have a crew here at Chronicle Books hand-marbling endpapers, we line up on the side of using endpapers to enhance the design of our books. Unlike some publishers, we consider the entire design of the book from cover to cover and everything in between.”

Rex Ray Art + Design by Douglas Coupland opens with type on texture.

The term endpapers is somewhat misleading, since they appear at the very beginning as well as at the end. Carabetta observes, “After the cover, the endpapers are the next component in the book a reader sees when the cover is flipped open.”

Beauty Rules by Bobbi Brown with Rebecca Paley opens to a gallery of smiling faces.

Technically, endpapers secure the book block (the trimmed pages) to the cover boards and are usually, but not always, of a different or contrasting paper stock. Carabetta continues, “The design of our endpapers is anything but gratuitous. If, for example, the cover has been treated with printed flourishes such as embossing, stamping, varnish, etc., we might be more discreet with ‘the ends’ as we call them. Or, if we’ve got a topic that suggests a more graphic treatment, we will explore that. We approach the design of endpapers as we do our books: We are not doctrinaire or formulaic.” [Ed. note: See the elegant and amusing endpapers from The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotations in Ilene Strizer’s recent Felt & Wire guest post.]

The endpapers of Alexandria, the fifth book in Nick Bantock’s epistolary saga of Griffin and Sabine, offer a sense of time, place and mystery.

Looking forward, Carabetta concludes, “The advent of the e-book may spell the end of endpapers, at least as a tactile experience. However, e-books can include elements that are exclusive to the app, not found in the printed book. The true e-book — as distinguished from a digital representation of an analog book — may incorporate a wealth of material: video clips, audio voice-over sound effects, links to related websites, additional written commentary, photographs and other interactive features. It’s a whole new ‘reading experience.’”

I can’t help but reflect on how interactive Griffin & Sabine seemed back in the early ’90s, with tipped-in envelopes to be opened and pieces of correspondence to be touched.

The endpapers of Griffin & Sabine cleverly foreshadow the exchange of correspondence between Griffin Moss in London and Sabine Strohem in the South Pacific.

This post is my last of the year. I now kuhntemplate spending several days trying to end the tyranny of unorganized papers in my office, and look forward to reporting on the success of that resolution early in January. My toastiest wishes to everyone for an Optimistic New Year. As always, thank you for reading!

All images © Chronicle Books

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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by Mick on 12.21.10 at 10:57 am

    “The term endpapers is somewhat misleading, since they appear at the very beginning as well as at the end.”
    Could one say the end is just the beginning? Another wonderful post. Happy end of 2010 and beginning to 2011 Alyson, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed your kuhntributions and are lookhung forward to many muhr.

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