Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Rambling Post About Yellow and the Ups and Downs of Our New Yellow Bag.

Yesterday I noticed that over the years, I have gotten way more fond of the color yellow. I sat at a table, eating Chinese food out of a yellow bowl, with a yellow fabric coaster for my drink and a yellow bottle of kitchen soap in the background. I know that the color doesn't look great on me, but I've still managed to pile up several yellow shirts, both of which I went out of my way to locate. Whenever I start talking about color and clothing, I start thinking about Color me Beautiful phenomenon from the 1980s.

Yellow is a color that publishers neither love nor hate for book jackets. It isn't the smooch fest of blue and white, nor does it possess the hexing qualities of green or purple. I looked on my shelf and found a number of distinctively yellow jacketed books that are among my favorites. Don Lee's Yellow is an obvious choice, as is Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic, which features a bright yellow warning sign. I should note that Vanderbilt's paperback reprint added a pop of red, which made the whole thing seem less yellow. I should also note that I've been thinking about this book as there have been a lot of warnings that the our major east west freeway is closing at the zoo interchange next weekend, July 18-20.

The Miranda July short story collection No One Belongs Here More than You reminds me that July has a novel coming up in January 2015 called The First Bad Man. I haven't seen anything about it, but I'm rather excited about it coming. Back in my Schwartz days, we had a number of huge fans of the July collection, and helped her make a lot of new fans of her fiction, but she's a busy woman with many artistic interests, so if you're counting, it will be eight years between the books (though there was a McSweeneys book in between).

I've also found several yellow books that I've been saving to read, some for a very, very long time. You may have heard that I'm supposed to be plowing through Middlemarch for a book club, and how I love the drop caps editions, but nothing beats my waiting list for Michelle Huneven's Round Rock, which I bought after I read Jamesland. Now I am two Michelle books behind. No wonder she's never visited. How dare I call myself a fan!

There was another reason I was drawn to yellow. We've noticed an abundance of low contrast mailings and advertisements, filled with such combinations as white on gray, and light pink on white. You'd think as the general age of the population goes up you'd be seeing more contrast, but what with the premium we put on youth and the interest in younger people in differentiating themselves, a low contrast sign or ad becomes almost like secret code. Now the funny thing is that some of these said advertisements have been for products that are clearly targeted to older folks--so perhaps this is more the result of a twenty-something marketer not thinking through what he or she is doing.

Now I would have never opened up Boswell with such a low-contrast bag. It's marketing message is a bit obscured. You might be able to see the logo, but I'll be darned if the average middle-aged person can read the phone number. I just wanted it to be striking and unique, and I can say with some certainty that a yellow on white bag is both pretty and pretty obscure.

We might switch out to a darker bag for the holiday season. At this point, it's all speculation.

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