Last week book designer Irma Boom won the Johannes Vermeer Prijs, the Dutch state prize for the arts. In an interview with De Volkskrant Boom says that she sees the prize as an appreciation for the graphic arts industry in The Netherlands. This industry can use some encouragement, because fewer and fewer books are printed and bound.
Luckily Irma Boom believes that the book has a future, even in this digital century. She thinks that a book is more necessary than ever, to bring slowness and deepening in people’s lives. A book slows, it makes you choose another rhythm. Boom sees a book as ‘frozen information’, with a fixed order, so that the reader can reflect and derive meaning from the design choices of the compiler. In contrast, internet is chaotic, without focus and temporary.
Boom says it is not only the order that gives a book extra value, but also the touch of the pages and the book edges. Her Chanel book is all white with blind printing, so you can see the content at floodlight, or you can feel it with your fingertips. The book edge of the Sheila Hicks book is frayed and feels like cotton.
The juryrapport about why they granted Irma Boom this big prize:
‘In the world of the internet and virtual communication, Irma Boom’s greatest achievement is that she has made the book a physical experience once more. She continues to impress with her ambition to push the boundaries with each and every book, her unbridled desire to reach beyond the original wishes of her clients, and her ability — maintained for decades — to deliver work of the highest artistic quality. For all these reasons, the jury has chosen her as the deserving winner of the Johannes Vermeer Award 2014.’
Just like Irma Boom, I believe that books have the future. I love to read and of course I own a e-reader and a tablet with hundreds of e-books … but reading a real book remains the best! It is not only reading which is special, writing is as special as well. Making plans in your notebook, write down your most brilliant thoughts or dreams in your diary … the hand bound book certainly has a future 🙂