art 2002/1
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On the Basics of the Book...

by Bronius Leonavičius

Book is a complex phenomenon of social and cultural life. Dual by nature, book is a source and vehicle of information. Expressive use of graphic characters (letters), handwritten books of the Middle Ages, the 15th c. discovery of press, all the history of book is a part of precious cultural heritage, the study of which enables continuous perfection of contemporary publishing.
Investigations into the art of book demonstrate how critical in construction of a book is the relative page height and the width of an open book; the canons for these proportions seem to have existed since the times of the manuscripts. Investigators into the field have established methods for achieving an ideal book design through adequate manipulation of different typographic elements.
Even in the era of computers, book design does not become an effortless task. Today, even more so, book design should be innovative, but also rooted in tradition. Book illustrator and design editor have different missions for a book. The first one emphasizes the visual aspect of the text and seeks self-expression. The person constructing or designing a book has to be anonymous. He has to consider the content of the text and illustrations, and based on that, create a certain functional image of a book using typographical means.
The essence of the book is in harmony of all visual elements, which start with paper, functional layout, quality of typographic works and binding.
The modern computer technology enables a publishing house to perform all the stages of book preparation, and the printers only do printing and binding. Deplorably, some publishers not always well organize their work, and the deadlines are often met at the expense of the artistic design of the book.
It is also obvious that the number of books illustrated by Lithuanian artists has shrunk, especially books for children, though Lithuanian artists have always been stronger in book illustration versus design. The artists are not encouraged to create book illustrations, as currently the funding for the preparation of a book for publishing is, as rule, miserable (though the production process is financed sufficiently). It is not acceptable, that the Culture Ministry almost does not finance art publications, as they are so important if we want to keep the pace with the world publishing rate. The quality of publishing also suffers from the absence of overall state publishing policy.

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