Irma Boom
Introduction by Rem Koolhaas
Text by Mathieu Lommen
Lecturis, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 2013 (2nd ed.), English
Nonfiction, Graphic Design
15.2 x 11.4 x 3.2 cm, paperback, 800 pages, 515 illustrations
ISBN: 9789462260351
Suggested Retail Price: $45.50

From The University of Amsterdam, Special Collections. A revised and updated reprint of the Irma Boom miniature monograph Biography in Books (2010) in two formats: a miniature book and an XXL edition. In partnership with the University of Amsterdam’s Special Collections, Lecturis is now publishing a significantly revised and updated reprint of the 2010 work. Two different formats are being printed, containing identical content: a miniature book (41.4 x 54.0 mm) and an XXL edition, measuring 345 x 455 mm and weighing in at 7.5 kg. Both books (in English) have a stitched softcover binding and colored edges and are packed in (different) boxes.

Maria Popova, in a review for Designers & Books, called the mini edition “a micro-manifesto for the printed book at its most alive.”

Also See Irma Boom: Biography in Books.

On 1 book list
Maria Popova

“A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic,” Carl Sagan memorably asserted, and nowhere is the physical making of a book more akin to the making of magic than in the work of Dutch book designer and artist Irma Boom—the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious Gutenberg Prize and a denizen of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which includes more than 50 of her books. The Architecture of the Book is a design memoir of sorts that offers a complete overview of her work in 800 tiny pages that measure 1.75 inches by 2.15 inches.

Observing the rise of digital text and e-books, Boom defies the typical dystopian narrative of print-traditionalists and instead argues that the competition between these two media “encourages us to explore the intrinsic characteristics of the printed book more intensely.” Rather than a challenge, she sees in this an opportunity for a kind of Renaissance and argues that “we stand on the verge of a new flourishing of the classic book.”

And, indeed, what Boom has created here is a micro-manifesto for the printed book at its most alive. In an era when e-books boast interactivity and responsiveness as an advantage over the static printed page, Boom reverses this proposition. Her books, while physical, are highly interactive—they offer a reason for reflection and bear a responsive relationship between the content and the empathic form, the former always dictating the latter. For, as Susan Sontag wrote in her diary, “all great art contains at its center contemplation, a dynamic contemplation”—and what Boom brings to the book is precisely this: a dynamic contemplation.

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