A few months ago we visited the London Book Fair for the first time. It was a mixed bag, as you can imagine – you can’t fill Olympia with book stalls and like everything you see. However, we found the stalls that were dedicated to specific countries the most interesting. We spent a long time rummaging around the Bulgarian, Chinese, Italian and French stands, enjoying the output from their respective countries, remarking on the difference in style and content to that of British publishing and wondering, in many cases, what the books were about and if there were English translations of them we could acquire.
One stand we took particular interest in was that of the Czech Republic, I even picked up a rather lovely badge with their flag on, along with a pocket full of delicious Czech sweets. As well as the freebies, it was a specific book that really drew us in. Titled ‘Jaderná Puma’ and written entirely in Czech, we could only hazard a guess that it must be about nuclear energy, due to the imagery.
When we returned home, we contacted the publishers, asking what the story was with the book, if we could obtain some copies for the site and so on. The explanation that came back regarding the book was so strange that we thought we should share a little of it’s flavour with you here, in our News section.
To start with, 'Jaderná Puma' is basically a fictitious book. The actual content of the book provides a helping hand to those with a deep interest in physics and chemistry and presents them with an educational experiment, that they can safely perform, even in domestic conditions. However, it was designed in an elaborate attempt to win ‘The Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year’ competition – and it nearly did. From what I can gather, the design company took stock content and designed this beautiful book, with the aim to draw attention to the fact that beauty lies in the unity of content and form and to highlight the importance to the jurors of getting acquainted with the content of the books under consideration.
Here's the design team's check list for obtaining, (at least) a bronze medal in The Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year competition:
1. Select the least occupied category of the competition (which Textbook category tends to be) and enter the title.
2. Use content that seems to be educative. If you do not have enough time, steal it from the internet.
3. The competition committee has no time to read the book, so the text can be totally stupid. No one will notice.
4. On the contrary, the form is what matters the most. If possible, find a graphic designer that won the competition in the past.
5. If you have longer than six days to produce your book, choose an unusual format. The chances are either the smallest or the largest books will be awarded.
Alternatively, try making your book round.
6. If, for some reason, you do not want to publish your names, think of funny pseudonyms.
7. The colophon could be totally made up, too.
8. A friend who pretends to be a publisher must be real. Give your friend one copy of the book, a filled-in application form, registration fee and the address of the Museum of Czech Literature, competition organiser.
9. Your bank account number should also be a real one – in case you happen to win your category and money prize associated with it.
10. Be prepared that not everybody will wish you success.Authors:
Aleš Palán, Kateřina Šedá, Adam MacháčekDesigner:
Adam Macháček (2016 Designers)Illustrations:
Ondřej Basjuk, Adam Macháček