What is “A Good Book“?
A hard question? A trick question? Yes and no. Since 2011, Bernd Kuchenbeiser, the Munich-based book designer, has been attempting an answer. He began by posting entries to a database on Twitter. With the demise of Twitter’s gallery function, Kuchenbeiser migrated the diary-like collection of photos and comments to A Good Book site with help from Simon Zirkunow. Below is a screenshot of part of the 232nd entry.
Until recently, the entries were Kuchenbeiser’s alone. The entries started on a daily basis, but as with many diary projects, the execution flagged. With 349 entries of his own (plus 3 from friends), he is now inviting entries from far and wide. Notice “Submit” in the upper righthand corner of the screenshot. Behind it lie the instructions and requirements for submission. Kuchenbeiser’s own entries are often brief, but his choices and comments are interesting because Kuchenbeiser and his oeuvre are interesting. See Michael Cina’s interview with him in The New Graphic (15 August 2011). For this venture to reward constant revisiting beyond that interest, however, Kuchenbeiser wisely holds potential contributors to the following standard:
Here’s what you need in order to submit a book:
– A short description of your book or the aspect that makes it ‘good’. From 140 characters to a maximum of 560, including spaces.
– The bibliographic details: author, title, year of publication, publisher, designer (if known). A questionnaire is already set up within the email that opens when you click ‘Submit now’.
– One to five photos of your book (at least 1400 pixels wide for landscape format and 1200 pixels high for portrait format).
Think of Pinterest or Flickr with serious feeling and intellectual rigor behind them. Kuchenbeiser’s design work and his own words exude that feeling:
Books have personalities. They can be our companions and friends. A good book doesn’t deserve to languish on a bookshelf; it wants to be opened, read, savoured, displayed, recommended. That’s why this website exists.
This site is like a message in a bottle hoping to be discovered. It will work only if it manages to generate communication.
The London Centre for Book Arts must have picked up the bottle from one of the Thames overswellings last week and placed a notice on its home page about the website. Although Kuchenbeiser does not promote it as such, if A Good Book thrives, it could generate a rich database worth semantic analysis for the book art and book arts community. All materials on A Good Book are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only.