A Bookshelf of out-of-print, hard-to-find and rare books from Callin Mackintosh

6 June 2018

Callin Mackintosh, although originally from Dundee in Scotland, now co-runs Lowrie, a design studio in East London alongside Mike White. On his weekends and evenings, however, he runs Out of Print: a bookshop selling rare, hard-to-find, collectable and completely out-of-print books.

“Like a lot of designers, I’ve had the collecting bug from a young age, starting off with football stickers, Pogs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle coins, Tazos etc,” Callin explains. It was while studying graphic design at university that he began to take collecting more seriously, however. “I guess it was from searching through the dusty corners of the university library and finding books that hadn’t been checked out in around 20 years which kickstarted my passion for collecting again,” he recalls.

As Callin continued collecting books, often receiving those which had been thrown from libraries and marked as “removed from stock”, he ended up acquiring one from his own university’s library. “This gave me the idea to launch Out of Print,” he explains, “the aim being to get these books back into the right hands to inspire and educate, not just sit in some warehouse collecting dust.”

Callin’s collection has continued to grow and grow and now incorporates all sorts of weird and wonderful titles. We caught up with Callin to find out which of these would make it into his dream Bookshelf. “I found it extremely hard to pick just five books from my collection,” he tells It’s Nice That, “my favourites change quite a lot depending on my mood, what I’m working on or even because of a new subject I have only just discovered. But here goes…”

Theseus Chan: Werk and Guerillazine

From the moment I received the request to do this bookshelf review I knew straight away I wanted to include the work of Theseus Chan. I struggled to pick just one publication however, so have included a selection of Werk Magazine and Guerillazine. What makes his work so unique is the way he pushes each issue to the limit, using several techniques I’ve never seen before in the world of publishing. Some issues invite the reader to become part of the story by allowing you to break the seal to open the book in your own way. Some are heat treated by hand, some with holes drilled through them and some have been left in a print house for weeks exposed to the elements. A true inspiration when it comes to creating any print work, he really breaks down the boundaries of what a book should be.

Werner Blaser: Tempel und Teehaus in Japan, cover design by Armin Hofmann, book design by Richard Paul Lohse

This book has been at the top of my list to find since I first started seriously collecting books. The publication is about classical Japanese Architecture, compiled by Swiss architect Werner Blaser. The cover is designed by one of the great graphic designers of our time, Armin Hofmann. Such a minimal typographic cover with just the title in a bespoke display typeface makes for a timeless piece of design. I honestly think you can look at this cover and think it was created in 1955, 2005 or even 2055. This book is a favourite of mine for more than just the cover, inside are some amazing pieces of traditional Japanese architecture, including plan drawings and photographs. There is one building in particular, The Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, which I find incredibly inspiring. So much so that a few years back I began to develop my own display typeface named Katsura based on the geometric grid of this interior.

Karl Gerstner: Color Lines Leaves From the Sketchbook (signed)

A book by Swiss designer Karl Gerstner, one of the most important designers of the 20th century. Like many designers of his era, he was also an artist. This is one of his less familiar book titles; it was a random find when scouring online bookshops and was an instant purchase. The book features images from his sketchbook of workings for a series of relief artworks. A little insight into his methodical process in creating these colourful geometric works of art. Once I received the book I discovered it was an edition of 500 printed for the exhibition and this copy is signed twice by the man himself. Needless to say, it has a special place on my bookshelf.

Documenta 5 1972, cover design by Ed Ruscha, book design by Karl Oskar Blase

A catalogue for Documenta 5, a contemporary art exhibition which takes place in Kassel, Germany, every five years. A relatively recent find from Germany but slowly becoming one of my favourites. Its sheer size, ring bound format, structured typographic layout and volume of content, make this an all around great book to look through time and time again. With so much content it’s rare you ever turn to the same page twice. The use of an orange Pantone on the floorplans of each divider page shows a minimal but impactful approach to colour in what is a mostly black and white publication. Designed by German designer Karl Oskar Blase with cover artwork by American artist Ed Ruscha. A rare piece that really has to be seen up close to be fully appreciated.

Provoke: Between Protest and Performance. Photography in Japan 1960-1975, design by Pierre Hourquet

Provoke was a postwar protest magazine featuring photography, art and critical theory from 1960s–70s
 Japan. Despite only three issues ever being published, this 680-page book was created for the first exhibition 
on the magazine and its creators. The book is stacked full of dramatic, thought-provoking black and white photography by the likes of Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira, a source of constant inspiration. It also has some pretty special Japanese book covers from the era. Published by Steidl Verlag, it has now sold out of two printings. I’d highly recommend trying to track down a copy if you can. A book I always go back to.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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