A thing to hold: The visual language of the book form

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article considers the book form itself as an ornamental object. The binding, paper and ink appeal to the senses and all add to experience of the reader. The future is a place of e-books, online publications and Instagram posts, and yet this arguably makes the carefully considered design of the book form even more important in the physical books that we do chose to view. The study examines a series of examples, drawing from artists’ books, pop-up books and mainstream publishing. The work draws strongly on the collection of pop-up books at the National Library of Scotland and the artists’ book collection at Edinburgh College of Art, looking at both historical and contemporary works. Initially exploring how the form of the book itself can visually communicate a narrative, the study goes on reflect on the emotion associated with opening a pop-up book, as if in the presence of a theatrical production, made more extreme by the embellishments employed. The place of the book form within a digital world is considered and, finally, the emergence of decorative books in the form of colouring books related to mindfulness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-98
JournalJournal of Illustration
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • book art
  • illustration
  • bookbinding
  • visual communication
  • artist publishing


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  • Frankenstein

    Roscoe, L., 17 Sept 2018

    Research output: Non-textual formArtefact

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