Recently I was asked by the Danish Union of Journalists if I could speak a bit about use of infographics and news graphics in books. The occasion was a large Book Fair, which takes place in Copenhagen every year in November (Time chosen to boost the Christmas Sales I guess).
I later learned I would be interviewed by Art Director, Lars Pryds, so I was happy that I said yes to the assignment. Lars is so very pleasant to work with.
But – Newsgraphics in books? That would be a very short session … Books are just not made for ‘News’. The only books which hold newsgraphics must be the awardbooks from SND and Malofiej – and the occasional collection as the one El Mundo made with their Iraq-graphics.
Britannica Illustrated Science Library
So my attention turned to infographics. Surely we see infographics in a lot of encyclopedias and other non-fiction – and wow, do we see some good ones there. One of my favourites must be the Britannica Illustrated Science Library.
But where do we see infographics and literature mixed?
Not as often as I would like - I mean, writers tend to write. Perhaps if we insisted on calling them authors instead? That could make a bit more room for infographics.
Yes, we have the graphic novels – and while they are among my favourite reading material (and apparently the fastest growing category in the world of books), we could argue back and forth for a long time if we can label them infographics.
Maps in fantasy-books
We also have the lucid maps in the fantasy-books. I love them and couldn’t imagine reading Lord of the Rings without the map to support the tale of the long journey. But how come Fantasy is the only genre, where a map is allowed? Not even in sci-fi do we see maps to help with the exploration of the universe and the story.
And it is indeed a bit strange, that I haven’t been able to trace a single novel with infographics used to explain what goes on in the story. If nothing else I would like to see it just for the experiment, although I wouldn’t ask for Brett Easton Ellis’ ‘American Psycho’ to be the first book to undergo infographic treatment. Or maybe I would – just to make sure it got noticed.
What I found was a thin book called Hard Times – written by Matt Mason and designed by Nicholas Felton. The book revolves about being a teenager, but I must confess to have read more interesting stories than this one – although the design is nice and all in a retro sense of way.
We have to create the book ourselves
Do you have the book that proves me wrong? The book that successfully or at least experimentally combines literature and infographics? Don’t hesitate and let us know. Otherwise one of us has to go create it ourselves.