Monday, May 21, 2012

Front to back: The ingenuity of endpapers

Anyone who knows me knows I have a love of... well, an obsession, really, with books. It all started in college with the beautifully illustrated art history texts required for so many classes, and which I could never bring myself to sell back at the end of the semester. I've continued to collect them over the last twelve years of working in the arts and publishing, which now means we have five huge shelves of books in the living room and two in the office, there are several large stacks elsewhere and, I admit it, some stuffed under the bed. I've been given the talk about hoarding, but I do use these books, honest I do! Maybe it's researching something for someone. Maybe it's for inspiration or even nostalgia. Whatever the reason, I just enjoy having them.

While looking through a few the other night, I was struck by their endpapers. It's curious why some publishers really do it up, while others opt for a blank page. A cost issue? But what a waste of two full spreads! "Brilliant," I thought, "I'll do a week's worth of posts on wonderful endpapers."

So with that, let it begin: the Week of Endpapers! (That should be read with some sarcasm.)

First up is The Hollywood Style, by film historian Arthur Knight and Life photographer Eliot Elisofon. It was published by Macmillan in 1969 with strict instructions: "This is a volume to be enjoyed." Well let me assure you, the enjoyment starts right when you lift the cover and find a coral-colored street map of the Hollywood Hills. There's no credit for the endpapers, but I'm assuming they were designed by illustrator (and later writer) Ulrich Ruchti, who was responsible for the book's layout, along with an Ellen Hsiao. (If anyone knows different, please let me know.)

A bit tattered, just as a book should be. (That's Cecil B. DeMille's place on the cover.)

Knight and Elisofon initially planned to limit the book to just Hollywood stars of the 1920s, but that quickly changed and they took the book right through the 60s. The map wouldn't differ much either way—this was definitely the part of the city to call home, no matter the decade. 

That six-way intersection at Sunset, Crescent, and Beverly is one of my most feared in the city.

It's also worth showing you the book without its jacket. I love the bright yellow cloth (the color doesn't really come through in the photograph) and the deep red text and decoration. I'm not sure what the design on the cover is, but surely there's a clue somewhere inside the book that I've yet to find (more on that in a forthcoming post).