May 16, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Some readers will appreciate their typographic form, while others will see further strategies at work — informational, strategic, philosophical, literary. There are odd, even anachronistic cultural references, gestures that date these books in a manner oddly soothing.
The Next Page: Thirty Tables of Contents

I found the Design Observer setup to be a tad cumbersome, so here's one of the editors' flickr photoset.
Bonus link from the same user: 33 Covers from Poetry Magazine
posted by carsonb (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
They forgot my favorite.
posted by carsonb at 12:10 PM on May 16, 2008

Your fave, carsonb, has that resounding tone of majesty, like the TOC for Nabokov's Pale Fire, given in this post. Check it out, if you haven't already (can't remember it's number). So blunt, so authoritative.
posted by yazi at 12:25 PM on May 16, 2008

Oh, I just like it for the irony.
posted by carsonb at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2008

I have noted your literary insight. Yikes, I haven't looked at Tristram in decades. I'm tempted to get a copy and see why the TOC exudes irony. Or else, if you want to say more about that, pls. do. I have nothing against peope instructing about things they know. Shoot away.
posted by yazi at 12:36 PM on May 16, 2008

Well, the title, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, hints at a biographical chronology, an easy and natural informational scheme. The first indication that this is a faulty assumption (in the extreme) is the ToC—instead of early life, school days, etc. delineation, the reader is awarded only a page location for each numericalBOOK. The plot lines for the novel (handily included deep within the text) also offer some insight on why the ToC is so obtuse. Why even bother trying to map that insanity?
posted by carsonb at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2008

One of my favorites
posted by empath at 12:55 PM on May 16, 2008

posted by empath at 12:56 PM on May 16, 2008

I love explorations of small, specific pieces of design. They give me a sense of the importance of that element vis-a-vis the whole. Since I'm not terribly well read, I can't see the literary relevance of the various designs, unfortunately.

This photoset helped me come up with my own priorities for what I value in a TOC in the event that I end up designing one:

A table of contents' purpose is to give the reader a sense of what lies ahead, so to that end:

1. It should be very clear, with plenty of whitespace (this is too cluttered).

2. The prominent headings should be the most important divisions in the book.

3. Page numbers packed together and far away from the chapter titles decreases ease of use.

4. Simple titles beat long ones, for an instructive book.

Anyone else come up with some principles?
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2008

Is anyone else finding that in Safari the slideshow popup doesn't include a scrollbar, and as such one can't view the images in their entirety?
posted by djgh at 1:16 PM on May 16, 2008

djgh...Grab the lower-right corner of the popup window and drag it until everything fits in the window.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:21 PM on May 16, 2008

House Of Leaves and Pale Fire are easily two of the funnest things I have ever read. Very cool post, very cool tables.
posted by everichon at 1:31 PM on May 16, 2008

Thanks. That set of Poetry Magazine covers is great.
posted by Kabanos at 2:42 PM on May 16, 2008

Half of those are crap.
posted by mazola at 3:49 PM on May 16, 2008

Half of those are crap.

Which is why this is such a good list.
posted by D.C. at 7:36 PM on May 16, 2008

Love-Goddess Assembly Line, 93.
The Mechanical Bride, 98.

I came here today to post this and here it already was. Thanks carsonb.
posted by jessamyn at 4:27 PM on May 18, 2008

I too came here to post this. A little late to the party as ever. However, I was going to add Alisdair Gray's Book of Prefaces.
posted by johnny novak at 10:14 AM on May 28, 2008

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