I

I love books. Yet I’ve never bought one just to own it. What fascinates me is their utility value: books can teach us things. It’s not only the writer that speaks to us. If we listen more closely, we can hear the voice of the designer or eavesdrop on the concert of materials. Books appeal not only to our eyes and ears: some we fall in love with the moment we take them in our hands. Many books also communicate non-verbally – they can flirt and seduce.

The studio
Building a cloud library of distributed algorithms –
A project by Bernd Kuchenbeiser

I’m not an obsessive collector, but I find my books taking up more and more shelf space. My growing library and my work as a designer have increasingly raised a nagging question in my mind: what’s ‘A Good Book’?

I’m sure that a consensus can be found for the special quality of a ‘good book’, but I have a hard time nailing down solid criteria. My arguments are often self-contradictory: I can love details in one book and dislike them in another. I forgive the sloppy design or production in one book because I’m held spellbound by its contents; another book I’d like only to feel but never to read. Sometimes the design, a sensual aspect, brings contents to life that I’d otherwise never have discovered.

Books have personalities. They can be our companions and friends. A good book doesn’t deserve to languish on a bookshelf; it wants to be opened, read, savoured, displayed, recommended. That’s why this website exists.

 

II

I launched this project on Twitter in 2011. My idea back then was to use Twitter’s image upload function as a visual book diary, giving something back to the Internet and trying to counteract its oft-decried ‘cultural diabetes’. The concept is simple: every day I take my iPhone and photograph a book, old or new, that has caught my attention and that I consider relevant. The books I choose stand out with their contents, design or tactile quality. They bear witness to lasting value in the evanescent and super­ficial world of Twitter. It’s just as if the virtual universe were holding them like a sturdy bookshelf, making them accessible to everyone.

When Twitter discontinued its gallery function and the books could no longer be traced back to the first entry, I decided to move the contents to its own domain. Together with Simon Zirkunow, I began to develop this site.

After the move, my plan is to further expand the index – without the pressure of daily uploads, but on a regular basis at irregular intervals. From time to time, friends, acquaintances and website visitors will add guest entries to the collection. They’re invited to submit a good book that adds new aspects to the holdings.

This site is like a message in a bottle hoping to be discovered. It will work only if it manages to generate communication. So I look forward to your entries, messages, discussion or critique. Your feedback is my reward. Treat me to it, please!

Bernd Kuchenbeiser

 

Design: Bernd Kuchenbeiser
Programming: Simon Zirkunow
Thanks to: Madlen Göhring, Ramona Reimann
Running on: Expression Engine
All materials on A Good Book are being made available
for noncommercial and educational use only.
All rights belong to the authors.

(c) 2011 – 2017
Bernd Kuchenbeiser Projects, Schwanthalerstraße 77
80336 München (Germany) +49 89 2710874
projects (at) kuchenbeiser.de