The Work


I sit across the aisle from a designer and he’s working on logos these days. I heard him saying something about wanting to have a book in the logo, or being attached to having books in the logo. And – this was a Friday afternoon, post-ISBNhour – my brain was off and running in sundry directions all at once.

I began trying to visualize what Brian O’Leary refers to as books without containers. Which is like visualizing thought itself. What is the icon for thought? And I began thinking about other media that’s become container-less – streaming movies and music, for example.

When you see this

you know it’s a movie even if you’ve never seen actual film in your life (neither of my kids have). This image has been associated with movies for so long, you just know what it is.

Apple’s iMovie logo has gone one better – a star, like what’s on a dressing room door, and a camera. But movie cameras don’t look like that anymore.

Visual reference to music generally includes musical notation of some sort – notes, staffs – even though most of us don’t read music. Still, we’ve been trained over time to associate symbols like this

with music, even though most of us would be hard-pressed to tell you what any of them actually mean. But we do know where our music is stored, and that place looks like this:

So…books. I suspect the image of the book, regardless of how that book is actually delivered, will remain quintessentially bookish. Just as Serious Writing is frequently represented by a quill pen and inkwell. It’s funny how these images outlive their containers.

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