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Signature Strengths
de Boy Vereecken
La Loge et Sternberg Press
2016
19,5 x 26,5 cm
108 pages avec 92 pages sur papier blanc non-couché et 16 pages sur papier glacé dont 12 pages couleurs.
Reliure à l’agrafe
Couverture souple

Cette édition parue en 2016 résulte d’une recherche sur les « No-frills books » menée par Boy Vereecken. Dans ce recueil, il fait ressurgir la littérature pulp en y faisant reparaitre quatre nouvelles aux genres emblématiques : Western, Mystery, Romance, Science fiction. Chacune de ces histoires est introduite et close dans l’édition par une reproduction originale de la première et quatrième de couverture, auxquelles s’ajoute une image qui illustre certains points caractéristiques du genre de la nouvelle. Les histoires sont d’autant plus circonscrites par des manifestations plastiques à savoir une alternance des supports papier : tantôt glacés et épais pour les images et reproductions graphiques, tantôt fins pour les textes.

« No-frills books » : à l’image de la grande distribution née dans les années 1950 et l’apparition des produits « no frills », littéralement « sans fioritures », qui se démocratisaient dans les supermarchés canadiens et américains dans les années 70, Terry Bisson et Frank Kozelek, éditeurs de Berckley, décidèrent en 1981 de produire des livres peu couteux, sans superflu. Selon le système des produits « no frills » ils invitèrent quatre auteurs à écrire quatre courtes histoires qui répondraient aux codes de quatre grands genres de la littérature populaire. Les livres ainsi réduits aux nécessités imposées par le genre choisi, tous semblables dans leur forme, nettoyés du superflu développaient l’espoir de pouvoir synthétiser un certain nombre de codes de ce type de littérature. Les « No-frills books » annonçaient en quatrième de couverture : « After you’ve read one, you won’t mind the others. »

Nous avons interviewé Boy Vereecken qui répond à plusieurs de nos questions sur l’édition :

The colophon page gives credits to the Saint Lucas school where you’ve been student and explain that Signature Strengths takes place in a largest theoretical project of research. What was your interest and is Signature Strengths a part of a series ? Are you working on another book you would like to republish ?

Saint Lucas, is together with the University of Antwerp partners in facilitating a PHD in the arts. This publication is an outcome from that period.

How did you discover the « No-Frills books » ?

In a second hand book market.

What did you think about those texts before and after reading them ?

I found it peculiar that there was no credits, no indication of who’s idea this initially was. It took a while before I had all four, but Mystery was the first copy found, there is quote some mystique in that copy, so I was triggered to know more of the why and how.

How did you choose the title Signature Strengths and what does it mean to you ?

It means you core strengths, elements that people, clients, peers, etc. can distinguish from your product or work. “Produit Blanc” was the economy to play on this.

On the internet, those four « No-frills books » are quite difficult to find but not that expensive to buy so why do you think they had to be republish today in that new format ? Why do you think those four books are importants ?

As you can read in the introduction text, mass paper back books that didn’t sell got pulped or burned, not so many are in circulation is it was pulp fiction. To reprint them in the way I did is a documentary methodology, the reprint is big enough to read, but not necessary for the understanding of the book, if I would reprint in the same size, it would mean I give attention to the quality of the text, which is thus not the case.

Why did you choose the font « Courier » for the introduction and the page numbers but not for the ending text ?

Why not, it is different content, with a different tone.

What was the most complicated step during the project’s development ? Wasn’t it the complex association of glossy and mat pages to compose the opening and the end of each book inside a simple two staples saddle stitch binding ?

No it wasn’t, to find the original initiator and interview him was pretty difficult.

Where does the four pictures comes from and why did you choose to illustrate those texts that, if we’re not wrong, were not illustrated in their 1981 publication ?

They are bought on image banks. Those four images, the intro text, the back matter, and cover logo, are all things I have added to the reprint, as it is my aim to introduce this publishing event, as a documentary, not merely focusing on design matter, nor the text of the genre novels. The pictures are in a way a chance to make the topic contemporary.

Why did you choose to credit in the colophon page of Signature Strengths the names of the four authors that where not given in the originals « No-frills books » but you’ve already revealed in the introduction ? Do you think the four « No-frills books » in 1981 have found a way to achieve the translation of the No-frills concept in editions ? Do you think the graphic solutions that Jove Book chose were right ? And so do you think that in this conception of condensation and reduction of a product to it’s necessities, do you think that the result is a success from a graphic design point of view ?

The two lines on the cover come from a tilted bar-code, they chose this as the No Frills lines was a registered brand mark.
Lots of No-Frills interpretations happend since then, in art as well in music ; like Public Image Ltd, Album: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Album_(Public_Image_Ltd_album)