Word Play

Periodic Browsing

Today’s bookshops increasingly focus on their periodicals, stocking a curated selection of constantly changing contents that keep things fresh and inspire customers to return. Motto is one of the city’s newest and most comprehensive stops for periodic enticements. Opened in December 2008 in an old frame factory in Kreuzberg, the wood-paneled shop jams some 3,000 international titles into just under 1,000 square feet. Motto is browser-friendly and elegantly detailed, a place where a 10-minute pop-in can easily become an afternoon. Though decidedly dedicated to magazines, Motto also entertains all experimental print forms, including self-published works and limited edition publications.

The shop began just four short years ago as a temporary space for magazines and fanzines from Switzerland, but has continued to stock its of-the-moment wares, expanding apace both in and outside Berlin. Efforts continue off-shelf: Motto plans events and readings about all things print and collaborates with libraries and educational institutions internationally. As a source for the global market, Motto also provides a distribution service that already supplies over 100 shops with new titles.

Motto looks forward, but takes the printed past seriously. The shop is famed for its wizard’s den of back issues, an archive for purchase with undisputed draw for the collector, the researcher or the curious.

– Sara Blaylock

Turning Font Families into Pageturners

Gestalten, a Berlin-based publishing house cum design studio cum think tank, is a laboratory for inventing book, type and corporate design. With considerable street-fame for its books, Gestalten produces titles on contemporary design and art movements that surprise in both content and form, turning books about font families into page-turners (Hyperactivitypography from A to Z, October 2010).

Each Gestalten book is a design invention in itself, showing off and innovating publishing trends. Titles receive a fetishistic response from fans who laud not just a book’s design and content, but its sensory details. Smell, feel and the sound of its turning pages help contribute to the Gestalten gestalt.

The publishing house generates most book ideas in house, researching first, then collaborating with outsiders to produce a polished, unique product. It is no doubt this all-bases-covered process is what makes Gestalten books so fresh and yet so pro.

Gestalten also manages to hold the gilded doors of design open forbudding designers. They price their books relatively low and publish free content on their website, including a bi-weekly series of design-focused videos. Both generous and self-sustaining, these Gestalten objectives keep the world supplied with young designers innovating topics for next month’s title.

– Sara Blaylock