The first Thursday of every month features an “art walk” in downtown Seattle, when galleries throw open their doors and stay open through the evening. On the first Thursday of this month, I dropped by the newly opened storefront space of Marquand Books, on Second Avenue near the Seattle Art Museum, to see an exhibition of notable books from the 90-year history of the University of Washington Press. UW Press has been taking prizes for book design for decades, especially under its long-time art director Audrey Meyer, who retired several years ago. The range of books on display at Marquand reminded me of both the longevity and the quality of UW Press’s publishing program – and of course many of the books themselves were old friends. The way the books were displayed emphasized their covers, but you could pick them up and thumb through them to appreciate the interior design as well. (I looked to see whether the one book I’ve designed for UW Press was included – Answering Chief Seattle by Albert Furtwangler (1997) – but it didn’t make the cut.)
University presses are suffering, like all publishing ventures, from the disastrous economy and the competition of newer publishing technologies, and I’m sure UW Press is no exception. It’s well worth being reminded that a serious and creative approach to publishing, teamed with a sensitivity to book production and design, can produce volumes that we want to keep on our shelves for many years to come.
[Photo: from Marquand Books’ invitation to their “Tribute to University of Washington Press.”]