Books for the Eyes and Mind
From Princeton Architectural Press

What's hip, well designed, informative and affordable?

Meet Princeton Architectural Press.

A week or so ago, I received a request from Princeton Architectural Press to review some of their publications. I happily complied and some days later received some of their catalogs as well as one of their newer publications, Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of An Imaginary Soul Superstar by Dori Hadar, to review.

Above: Catalog Covers from Princeton Press' 2006 and 2007 collections

The following is how they describe themselves on their site:
In the nearly twenty-five years since its founding, Princeton Architectural Press has become a world leader in architecture and design publishing, both in market share and in editorial and design excellence. With over 500 titles on our backlist, we have consistently sought the best in our field, and are privileged to be able to attract and publish it. We've made our reputation in part by identifying new trends and publishing first books on emerging talents, as well as definitive works on established names, and by creating books of unsurpassed design quality and production values.

We've also successfully broadened the scope of what design publishing constitutes, by publishing everything from theory anthologies to documentation of remote Canadian fishing villages. Crossing boundaries is our strongest suit: we excel at publishing books that defy easy categorization. And in an industry where the average life span of a book is measured in months, if not weeks, we are a committed backlist publisher; indeed, the first book we published, Letarouilly's Edifices de Rome Moderne, is still in print.

Both the Press and our books have won numerous awards, for editorial excellence and for book design. They've been described in professional and popular media as "visually inviting," "elegant and charming," "useful as well as beautiful," "lovingly produced," "authoritative," "thorough and comprehensive," and so on: we try to make books that are smart and beautiful.

Since 1996 we've been distributed in North and South America by Chronicle Books, the successful trade book publisher based in San Francisco, which has dramatically increased our visibility in the non-specialist book trade and specialty retail stores. Our strategic alliance in 1997 with Birkhauser of Basel, Switzerland, strengthened our worldwide distribution and has brought greater visibility for their excellent books to our shores.

In short: we publish the best books on a subject we believe we know best.

Previously unaware of the large range of books that cover design, architecture and the 'visual' world from Princeton Architectural Press, I was pleased to see that their own catalogues are well produced, nicely designed and laden with wonderful books that cover numerous topics from Typography to Mapmaking.

I would strongly encourage you to request a catalog or spend some time browsing their publications. You won't be disappointed. Just take a look at how nicely laid out their own catalogs are:

In addition to the above catalogs, I took a look at Mingering Mike, by Dori Hadar with a preface by Neil Strauss and an afterward by Jane Livingston. It is an unusual illustrated find, recounting the story of a previously unknown soul superstar.

Author Dori Hadar (a self professed vinyl junkie) found a treasure trove of albums while digging through crates at a flea market.

Complete with folk like illustrations and extensive liner notes, Dori wondered why he'd never heard of him before. Upon closer inspection, he realized she'd uncovered handmade cardboard covers containing grooves drawn on 'vinyl'and thus was born, the story of one man's mythology of his music career.

After some searching, author Hadar actually met Mingering Mike and he retells the story of his unusual childhood and life experiences that were the inspiration for his imaginary superstardom.

The book is poignant and unusual, laden with charming art and heartfelt accounts of Mike's life.

Above: Mingering Mike, one of PAP's latest releases
A nice find for anyone who appreciates anything from folk art to the music industry to history.

Below are some sample spreads:

In addition to their publications, they have a blog about visual culture. On this blog, they also have a good list of art, design and architectural blogs (mine, however, is not yet included..).

Suffice it to say, Princeton Architectural Press is a 'bookmark must' for anyone who appreciates the arts and the world of 'visual' communication and design.

Careful though...with such affordable titles, you'll soon be snapping up their whole library!

C'mon people, it's only a dollar.