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7/30/2016

ChipKidd:Designingbooksisnolaughingmatter.OK,itis.|TEDTalk|TED.com

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Hi.(Laughter)
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Ididthatfortworeasons.Firstofall,Iwantedtogiveyouagoodvisualfirstimpression.ButthemainreasonI
diditisthatthat'swhathappenstomewhenI'mforcedtowearaLadyGagaskankymic.
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(Laughter)
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I'musedtoastationarymic.It'sthesensibleshoeofpublicaddress.
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(Laughter)
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Butyouclampthisthingonmyhead,andsomethinghappens.Ijustbecomeskanky.(Laughter)SoI'msorry
aboutthat.AndI'malreadyoffmessage.
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(Laughter)
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Ladiesandgentlemen,Ihavedevotedthepast25yearsofmylifetodesigningbooks.("Yes,BOOKS.You
know,theboundvolumeswithinkonpaper.Youcannotturnthemoffwithaswitch.Tellyourkids.")Itallsortof
startedasabenignmistake,likepenicillin.(Laughter)
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WhatIreallywantedwastobeagraphicdesigneratoneofthebigdesignfirmsinNewYorkCity.Butupon
arrivalthere,inthefallof1986,anddoingalotofinterviews,IfoundthattheonlythingIwasofferedwastobe
AssistanttotheArtDirectoratAlfredA.Knopf,abookpublisher.NowIwasstupid,butnotsostupidthatI
turneditdown.
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IhadabsolutelynoideawhatIwasabouttobecomepartof,andIwasincrediblylucky.Soon,ithadoccurred
tomewhatmyjobwas.Myjobwastoaskthisquestion:"Whatdothestorieslooklike?"Becausethatiswhat
Knopfis.Itisthestoryfactory,oneoftheverybestintheworld.Webringstoriestothepublic.
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Thestoriescanbeanything,andsomeofthemareactuallytrue.Buttheyallhaveonethingincommon:They
allneedtolooklikesomething.Theyallneedaface.Why?Togiveyouafirstimpressionofwhatyouare
abouttogetinto.Abookdesignergivesformtocontent,butalsomanagesaverycarefulbalancebetweenthe
two.
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Now,thefirstdayofmygraphicdesigntrainingatPennStateUniversity,theteacher,LannySommese,came
intotheroomandhedrewapictureofanappleontheblackboard,andwrotetheword"Apple"
underneath,andhesaid,"OK.Lessonone.Listenup."Andhecoveredupthepictureandhesaid,"Youeither
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ChipKidd:Designingbooksisnolaughingmatter.OK,itis.|TEDTalk|TED.com

saythis,"andthenhecovereduptheword,"oryoushowthis.Butyoudon'tdothis."Becausethisistreating
youraudiencelikeamoron.(Laughter)Andtheydeservebetter.
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Andloandbehold,soonenough,IwasabletoputthistheorytothetestontwobooksthatIwasworkingonfor
Knopf.ThefirstwasKatharineHepburn'smemoirs,andthesecondwasabiographyofMarleneDietrich.Now
theHepburnbookwaswritteninaveryconversationalstyle,itwaslikeshewassittingacrossatabletellingit
alltoyou.TheDietrichbookwasanobservationbyherdaughteritwasabiography.SotheHepburnstoryis
wordsandtheDietrichstoryispictures,andsowedidthis.Sothereyouare.Purecontentandpureform,side
byside.Nofighting,ladies.
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("What'saJurassicPark?")Now,whatisthestoryhere?Someoneisreengineeringdinosaursbyextracting
theirDNAfromprehistoricamber.Genius!(Laughter)
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Now,luckilyforme,IliveandworkinNewYorkCity,wherethereareplentyofdinosaurs.(Laughter)So,Iwent
totheMuseumofNaturalHistory,andIcheckedoutthebones,andIwenttothegiftshop,andIboughta
book.AndIwasparticularlytakenwiththispageofthebook,andmorespecificallythelowerrighthandcorner.
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NowItookthisdiagram,andIputitinaPhotostatmachine,(Laughter)andItookapieceoftracingpaper,and
ItapeditoverthePhotostatwithapieceofScotchtapestopmeifI'mgoingtoofast(Laughter)andthen
ItookaRapidographpenexplainittotheyoungsters(Laughter)andIjuststartedtoreconstitutethe
dinosaur.
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IhadnoideawhatIwasdoing,IhadnoideawhereIwasgoing,butatsomepoint,Istoppedwhentokeep
goingwouldseemlikeIwasgoingtoofar.AndwhatIendedupwithwasagraphicrepresentationofusseeing
thisanimalcomingintobeing.We'reinthemiddleoftheprocess.AndthenIjustthrewsometypographyon
it.Verybasicstuff,slightlysuggestiveofpublicparksignage.(Laughter)
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Everybodyinhouselovedit,andsooffitgoestotheauthor.Andevenbackthen,Michaelwasonthecutting
edge.("MichaelCrichtonrespondsbyfax:")("Wow!FuckingFantasticJacket")(Laughter)(Applause)Thatwas
arelieftoseethatpouroutofthemachine.(Laughter)ImissMichael.
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Andsureenough,somebodyfromMCAUniversalcallsourlegaldepartmenttoseeiftheycanmaybelookinto
buyingtherightstotheimage,justincasetheymightwanttouseit.Well,theyusedit.(Laughter)(Applause)
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AndIwasthrilled.Weallknowitwasanamazingmovie,anditwassointerestingtoseeitgooutintothe
cultureandbecomethisphenomenonandtoseeallthedifferentpermutationsofit.Butnottoolongago,I
cameuponthisontheWeb.No,thatisnotme.Butwhoeveritis,Ican'thelpbutthinkingtheywokeupone
daylike,"OhmyGod,thatwasn'ttherelastnight.Ooooohh!Iwassowasted."(Laughter)
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ChipKidd:Designingbooksisnolaughingmatter.OK,itis.|TEDTalk|TED.com

Butifyouthinkaboutit,frommyheadtomyhandstohisleg.(Laughter)That'saresponsibility.Andit'sa
responsibilitythatIdon'ttakelightly.Thebookdesigner'sresponsibilityisthreefold:tothereader,tothe
publisherand,mostofall,totheauthor.Iwantyoutolookattheauthor'sbookandsay,"Wow!Ineedtoread
that."
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DavidSedarisisoneofmyfavoritewriters,andthetitleessayinthiscollectionisabouthistriptoanudist
colony.Andthereasonhewentisbecausehehadafearofhisbodyimage,andhewantedtoexplorewhat
wasunderlyingthat.Forme,itwassimplyanexcusetodesignabookthatyoucouldliterallytakethepantsoff
of.Butwhenyoudo,youdon'tgetwhatyouexpect.Yougetsomethingthatgoesmuchdeeperthanthat.And
Davidespeciallylovedthisdesignbecauseatbooksignings,whichhedoesalotof,hecouldtakeamagic
markeranddothis.(Laughter)Hello!(Laughter)
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AugustenBurroughswroteamemoircalled["Dry"],andit'sabouthistimeinrehab.Inhis20s,hewasa
hotshotadexecutive,andasMadMenhastoldus,aragingalcoholic.Hedidnotthinkso,however,buthis
coworkersdidaninterventionandtheysaid,"Youaregoingtorehab,oryouwillbefiredandyouwilldie."
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Nowtome,thiswasalwaysgoingtobeatypographicsolution,whatIwouldcalltheoppositeofType
101.Whatdoesthatmean?UsuallyonthefirstdayofIntroductiontoTypography,yougettheassignmentof,
selectawordandmakeitlooklikewhatitsaysitis.Sothat'sType101,right?Verysimplestuff.Thisisgoing
tobetheoppositeofthat.Iwantthisbooktolooklikeit'slyingtoyou,desperatelyandhopelessly,thewayan
alcoholicwould.
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Theanswerwasthemostlowtechthingyoucanimagine.Isetupthetype,IprinteditoutonanEpson
printerwithwatersolubleink,tapedittothewallandthrewabucketofwateratit.Presto!Thenwhenwewent
topress,theprinterputaspotglossontheinkanditreallylookedlikeitwasrunning.
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Notlongafteritcameout,Augustenwaswaylaidinanairportandhewashidingoutinthebookstorespyingon
whowasbuyinghisbooks.Andthiswomancameuptoit,andshesquinted,andshetookittotheregister,and
shesaidtothemanbehindthecounter,"Thisone'sruined."(Laughter)Andtheguybehindthecountersaid,"I
know,lady.Theyallcameinthatway."(Laughter)Now,that'sagoodprintingjob.
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Abookcoverisadistillation.Itisahaiku,ifyouwill,ofthestory.ThisparticularstorybyOsamaTezukaishis
epiclifeoftheBuddha,andit'seightvolumesinall.Butthebestthingiswhenit'sonyourshelf,yougetashelf
lifeoftheBuddha,movingfromoneagetothenext.Allofthesesolutionsderivetheiroriginsfromthetextof
thebook,butoncethebookdesignerhasreadthetext,thenhehastobeaninterpreterandatranslator.
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Thisstorywasarealpuzzle.Thisiswhatit'sabout.("Intrigueandmurderamong16thcenturyOttomancourt
painters.")
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(Laughter)

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ChipKidd:Designingbooksisnolaughingmatter.OK,itis.|TEDTalk|TED.com

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Allright,soIgotacollectionofthepaintingstogetherandIlookedatthemandIdeconstructedthemandIput
thembacktogether.Andso,here'sthedesign,right?Andsohere'sthefrontandthespine,andit'sflat.But
therealstorystartswhenyouwrapitaroundabookandputitontheshelf.
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Ahh!Wecomeuponthem,theclandestinelovers.Let'sdrawthemout.Huhh!They'vebeendiscoveredbythe
sultan.Hewillnotbepleased.Huhh!Andnowthesultanisindanger.Andnow,wehavetoopenituptofind
outwhat'sgoingtohappennext.TryexperiencingthatonaKindle.(Laughter)
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Don'tgetmestarted.Seriously.MuchistobegainedbyeBooks:ease,convenience,portability.Butsomething
isdefinitelylost:tradition,asensualexperience,thecomfortofthingynessalittlebitofhumanity.
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DoyouknowwhatJohnUpdikeusedtodothefirstthingwhenhewouldgetacopyofoneofhisnewbooks
fromAlfredA.Knopf?He'dsmellit.Thenhe'drunhishandovertheragpaper,andthepungentinkandthe
decklededgesofthepages.Allthoseyears,allthosebooks,henevergottiredofit.Now,Iamallforthe
iPad,buttrustmesmellingitwillgetyounowhere.(Laughter)NowtheAppleguysaretexting,"Developodor
emissionplugin."(Laughter)
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AndthelaststoryI'mgoingtotalkaboutisquiteastory.AwomannamedAomamein1984Japanfinds
herselfnegotiatingdownaspiralstaircaseoffanelevatedhighway.Whenshegetstothebottom,shecan't
helpbutfeelthat,allofasudden,she'senteredanewrealitythat'sjustslightlydifferentfromtheonethatshe
left,butverysimilar,butdifferent.Andso,we'retalkingaboutparallelplanesofexistence,sortoflikeabook
jacketandthebookthatitcovers.
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Sohowdoweshowthis?WegobacktoHepburnandDietrich,butnowwemergethem.Sowe'retalking
aboutdifferentplanes,differentpiecesofpaper.Sothisisonasemitransparentpieceofvelum.It'sonepart
oftheformandcontent.Whenit'sontopofthepaperboard,whichistheopposite,itformsthis.Soevenifyou
don'tknowanythingaboutthisbook,youareforcedtoconsiderasinglepersonstraddlingtwoplanesof
existence.Andtheobjectitselfinvitedexplorationinteraction,considerationandtouch.
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ThisdebutedatnumbertwoontheNewYorkTimesBestSellerlist.Thisisunheardof,bothforusthe
publisher,andtheauthor.We'retalkinga900pagebookthatisasweirdasitiscompelling,andfeaturinga
climacticsceneinwhichahordeoftinypeopleemergefromthemouthofasleepinggirlandcauseaGerman
Shepherdtoexplode.(Laughter)NotexactlyJackieCollins.FourteenweeksontheBestSellerlist,eight
printings,andstillgoingstrong.
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Soeventhoughwelovepublishingasanart,weverymuchknowit'sabusinesstoo,andthatifwedoourjobs
rightandgetalittlelucky,thatgreatartcanbegreatbusiness.
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Sothat'smystory.Tobecontinued.Whatdoesitlooklike?Yes.Itcan,itdoesanditwill,butforthisbook
designer,pageturner,dogearedplaceholder,notesinthemarginstaker,inksniffer,thestorylookslikethis.
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ChipKidd:Designingbooksisnolaughingmatter.OK,itis.|TEDTalk|TED.com

16:42
Thankyou.
16:45
(Applause)

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