Designer, academic and writer Andy Polaine has set up The Designer’s Review of Books, a blog dedicated solely to examining both the content and production values of some of the design publications vying for your attention (and hard earned cash)…
“I started The Designer’s Review of Books for a few reasons,” says Polaine. “I’d been thinking of a decent niche website/blog idea that would extend my design journalism and, whilst I was trying to research something online, I noticed that there wasn’t really a website dedicated to design book reviews.”
Also, Polaine is based in Offenburg, a small town in Germany, and so conducts much of his design and teaching work remotely. While the benefits of moving out of the city are numerous, one problem he found was the lack of nearby bookshops geared towards creative titles.
“Amazon makes it easy to shop online,” he says, “but a lot of the reviews are unreliable, or you have no idea who the person is doing the review.” In response to this, he hopes that his critical take on design books will become a trusted resource for the creative industry.
“Design books are a mixed bag,” he says. “Some look great but the text is really shabby (I have a review of one such book coming up soon). Others promise a lot and are terribly produced. And there are some books that designers should read that are not strictly design books. It depends on the book, but sometimes it’s about the book as an object in its own right, and that is hard to judge online.
“I try and write about the production values of the book as well as the content so that others who are in my position – and there must be many – can take a punt on buying a book they have never had in their hands.”
Polaine also plans to post guest reviews by designers and possibly include some author interviews further down the line.
“It seems like a dream to have a stack of design books on your desk until you have to read them all and write reviews (and photograph them),” he says. “I read the books thoroughly rather than just skimming through, otherwise it’s pointless. But that takes a lot of time.
“It is a labour of love at the moment, so of course, I also hope design firms and publishers will want to advertise on the DRB so I can keep it going.”
Check out Polaine’s first few posts at designersreviewofbooks.com.