The Understated Ebook Cover

The bookshelf for an ebook is a screen: a smaller world where design elements, images, and small type are lost. Here are some striking, text-only covers, as well as one wild card, with only an image and a logo. Click-through for the book in its marketplace.

Lemon-lime, with a dash of blue agave.

Seen, Written by Klaus Kertess (Gregory R. Miller & Co.)

n+1’s Kindle Singles look. This one intimates some kind of scrolling canvas.

Argentinidad by Benjamin Kunkel (n+1 singles)

The series look for all 5 “Hybrid” books titled “The Duel,” from Melville House.

The Duel, Giacomo Casanova (Melville House "Hybrid" Books)

The series look chosen by Hatje Cantz for their list of Documenta Notebooks, showing only the author’s name and a title-specific color.

Reading, Rewriting Poe's "The Oval Portrait" - Angelically, by Jalal Toufic (Hatje Cantz)

The Domino Project series look, with one exception, consists only of an image and a logo.

Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness (Domino Project)



Here are a few quick hits on my experience with the social media startup Percolate in beta, which I’ve been using for just over 24 hours on the web and iPad thanks to the awesome generosity of Noah (Brier, co-founder), who was super-accommodating with setting things up.

Percolate screenshot

You can read about Percolate and see some screenshots on Mashable, What’s Next Marketing, as well as on Percolate’s own blog.

It sounds like one of the passions behind Percolate is to make publishing more comfortable. Kudos to that – you can feel it. I didn’t want to lurk here, and it’s simple to use. Instead, I jumped into “My Brew,” which is culled from my Twitter and Google Reader streams, and allows my to rate and comment on them, “percolating” them into a different stream that I can share with others (as well as read what they’re percolating, too).

Here are my initial, somewhat impulsive, first thoughts. And, of course, Percolate is just in beta, and being updated.

So what else would I want to see?

a manual “new brew” button — mixes up my brew and gives me a fresh set of sources to read.

more enabled discovery – posting and voting could open up other possibilities for me to follow. One way that Percolate would stay in rotation is that it shows me what I might have missed on other social media.

a shared brew – a brew that changes based on the people I follow, and mixes in some of their sources and also their posts, so that I comment on other posts, too.

connections – I think My Brew either needs to contain everything from my connections, or be an almost completely new set based on them. I’m still going to be on Twitter or Flipboard, and want to go to Percolate to mix it up, but don’t want to see the same sources on Percolate as well. I also don’t want to feel like I’m “missing something,” like when my RSS feed doesn’t sync right.

a functional search box for new sources based on keywords I choose.

a messaging system, so that I can communicate with others within Percolate.

a third column – one for my percolating stream, one for people I am following, one for my brew. I like to see what I’ve posted and have it front and center.

smaller brew elements – I found myself scrolling down quite a bit in order to review a just a few more sources.

Looking forward to using Percolate more and seeing how it develops. Seems like there’s a lot of passion and thought behind it.


Listening to this casually professorial interview with guitarist Johnny Marr (from BBC’s Imagine: The Story of the Guitar) got me thinking about how underrated the idea of “theme and variation” is. Not only in music, but elsewhere.

Take the three “punk” chords, which, after hearing the alternative, are actually kind of boring. “Going inside the chord” like Marr does makes for more compelling music. (While that phrase will never roll off the tongue as nicely/banally as “thinking outside the box,” it’s a musical version of the metaphor.)

Combining this kind of knowledge of technique with a personal history of how it’s been done gives you authenticity. In this case, Marr knows the list of “songs that have a tremolo guitar that sounds like x.” He owns a knowledge of the history, so he can make powerful variations.

What do these ideas have to say about other kinds of technique? Say, in business?

Store Lighting

Is the light changing this summer?

What kind of fantasy/cultural narrative can be spun to explain why the book jacket and its subjects are being flashed out with a blinding light that bleaches out their colors, their words?

Glenn Carle, The Interrogator: An Education, Nation Books, 2011

Bob Mould, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, Little, Brown, 2011

What Does Digital Feel Like?

“Digital” is an exciting, rampant adjective. Let’s face it, it gives things a sheen of futurism, surrounds them with whiffs of dinosaur repellent.

Can you feel it? What are some examples of describing media experiences in terms of the body: feelings, states of mind, states of consciousness?

Digital technologies are successful tools in contemporary design. Their ascent, however, is a continuation of well-tried and reliable analog processes. No matter whether paper or digital approach — the designer organizes elements by hand.

(abstract for

When I look at the paintings of Christopher Wool, I know that they have been manipulated in Photoshop. But again, they conjure emotions and perspectives that are more bodily. Take for example some new Untitled works from 2011.

Mark Godfrey, in “Stain Resistance”, Artforum, Summer 2011, writing about new works by Christopher Wool gets at how the paintings are about having a body in the city, about coming to terms with what images are, and how they look different now.

Each central blotch is an outsize monument to the material residue of the density of urban life as well as witness to a morcellated subjectivity assailed by the technologies that cut it down the middle or split it apart.

Other discussions of “digital” where a kind of “humanness” is re-realized?

Phrase Scanner 7/14/11

cultural diabetes: idea that media production and consumption behaviors are out of equilibrium. I don’t know if the headliner came up with that phrase, but the article is in New Scientist by Peter Lunenfeld.

sensorium: Total sense environment. Word is from the 17th century. Also the title of an MIT Press book on the “techno-human interface.” Book is from the 2006 century, which feels just as long ago.

Feltron: “Nicholas Felton is a leader in the field of information visualization and personal data-tracking.” The Feltron, then, is like his own personal data presence/pseudonym.

bitcoin: a person-to-person digital currency.