A Book on Books looks into the past, present and future of book design and publishing

Featuring in-depth discussions with industry leaders, this recently published tome celebrates all things bookish for bibliophiles far and wide.

7 October 2020


As a publishing imprint specialising in design books, the Hong Kong-based Victionary is no stranger to a good book collection. Over the years it’s released tomes on branding, illustration, typography and packaging (just to name a few), but that being said, Victionary rarely has the opportunity to discuss the nature of the book itself. Now, they’ve put themselves to the test in their latest publication, aptly titled A Book on Books. Delving into the history of book design, touching on how far these beloved objects have come over the centuries, A Book on Books showcases the creativity and craftsmanship of the medium, while highlighting their importance in holding knowledge and offering up inspiration to bibliophiles all over.

It features exclusive interviews with the likes of Marlene Taschen, managing director of Taschen; Marcroy Smith, founder of People of Print; Max Schumann, executive director of Printed Matter; Christopher and Kathleen Sleboda, founders of Draw Down; and Muneaki Masuda, founder of Tsutaya Books. The new publication also documents a number of It’s Nice That favourites. With Actual Source, Craig Oldham, Design by Toto, Offshore Studio, Jean Jullien and Vrints-Kolsteren amongst the 316 pages, the task of designing the anticipated volume fell to Raphael Kwok who tells us of the project.

“It is evident that books did not die out in this digital age,” he tells us. “Quite on the contrary. We actually continue to see spectacular book design work from creatives around the world. We hope to look back at what has been done and also imagine what could be happening next.” A Book on Books expands on topics near and dear to the industry and also the lesser-known idiosyncrasies. Shining a spotlight on the differing roles that go into creating a successful book (those that host art book fairs, for example) this unique design volume additionally looks into the wider circulation of a book’s release and how this is integral to the industry’s successful future.

GalleryVictionary: A Book on Books designed by Raphael Kwok (Copyright © Victionary, 2020)

Capturing the voices of influential roles in the industry, from the publishers to the owners of book shops, A Book on Books coincides with the 20th anniversary of Victionary in a celebration of the medium that surrounds the imprint. It’s difficult for Raphael to select a favourite design featured in the book, stating that “if we REALLY had to choose,” as he puts it, Wang Zhi-Hong’s design would come out on top. A talented designer who wields the power of the viewer with his striking cover designs alone, the Taiwanese designer is just one of the many industry leaders steering the future of the discipline.

“We also like what Éditions du Livre are doing,” adds Raphael, “in that they merge elements and rationales of art books with children’s books. The results are a series of unique and inspiring books which are both elegant and beautiful and very fun to play with.” To encapsulate the broad spectrum of book design, Raphael’s own design of A Book on Books is pared back yet bold in its layout and visual systems, ultimately giving way to the content on display.

Each featured design is carefully chosen for its unique representation of the vastness of book design. Whether it’s an interesting shape or form, binding method, or simply a spectacular display of art direction, the publications within this jam-packed book encompass works of fiction, self-published zines and a host of other genres. Above all, however, each book possesses an appropriate design rationale best suited to its content. Raphael finally goes on to say, “we hope you enjoy these amazing works from more than 80 creatives around the world.”

GalleryVictionary: A Book on Books designed by Raphael Kwok (Copyright © Victionary, 2020)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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