Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Compelling material, poor layout

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions From Ordinary Lives
by Frank Warren

Begin with the concept. The website says:

"You are invited to anonymously contribute your secrets to PostSecret. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Create your 4-by-6-inch postcards out of any mailable material. If you want to share two or more secrets, use multiple postcards. Put your complete secret and image on one side of the postcard."

PostSecret is a compelling website, and so I looked forward eagerly to the book, which promised a selection of the best submissions shown online as well as others not previously displayed. It lives up to the hype in all respects except one. The selection truly does contain many of the best submissions, however the layout leaves quite a bit to be desired. In many cases the postcards (originally 4" by 6") are enlarged to fill a page, or even to stretch across two pages. For a book in which the visual element is so key, the bad layout is a major handicap. Nevertheless, it is an intruiging look into the secret lives of others -- many of which look strikingly familiar.

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