Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Pelican Project

This digital collection focuses on scans of book covers from Pelican Books, which was an offshoot of Penguin Books that was started in 1937.  Selection decisions aren’t listed, but looking through the collection, you can see that they made the choice to scan only front covers, which are in varying conditions.  Investigating further, I found out that it's not a complete collection, so it may be made up just of books they had access to, or perhaps just covers they liked.  There's no way to know, and the lack of information about selection decisions could be a missed opportunity.  If they let users know what books they were still looking for they could possibly elicit the help of other Pelican Book enthusiasts to lend books or send in scans to help complete the collection.  It’d also be interesting to know why the scans stopped in 1985.  Did the series end, or did they just not like the cover design styles of the late 1980’s?

Rights management isn't talked about, but I think it'd be safe to assume that they didn't get permission to post these.  Covers were scanned at 200ppi, which seems like a decent balance between not having high enough resolution that it would make rights owners feel threatened, but still displaying a quality image (though who knows really?).  At first glance, I thought they had added shadows around the books, which seems like it would be a bad choice for preservation.  On closer inspection, it looks like erasing the outer border of the scan is what gives the illusion of shadows.  This decision gives the collection a cohesive visual look, and displays great against the white background.   

The layout of the site is really clean.  Items are arranged by year, which is really the only metadata.  It's confusing that some books appear in two different years, and it would be helpful to know why that decision was made.  It would also be nice to know more about the graphic designers, although I don't know if that information was in the books.  Because of the emphasis on the visual design of the collection, I would say the collection is targeted towards fans of modernist design, or graphic design history.  The collection is a great representation of the changing eras of graphic design, but with even a little information about their selection decisions and collection, it could be a much better resource.

No comments:

Post a Comment