Bulgarian ABC Book History
Book / Encyclopedia
The main inspiration for the authors are the illustrations in the Bulgarian ABC books as an opportunity to follow the development of the artistic styles and also to form a narrative on the history of education. In the Bulgarian educational tradition the ABC book happens to be the first book of every child in the past 200 years and therefore is connected not only to social history but to personal experience and biography.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
The book (original title of the book is "Bulgarian primer. 200 years in first grade") is the first visual history of Bulgarian primers and ABC books (1824-2010), compiling more than 130 titles, written by more than 100 authors and illustrated by 60 artists. The study offers a visual interpretation of different historical periods, social collisions, times of war and peace, of economical crises and industrial progress. It also puts an accent on the everyday life, material culture, family relations, and attitudes towards child rearing, guidance, and education.
The back cover reads: "An ABC book of Bulgarian ABC books. This is a brief and accurate visual interpretation of primers from the first one published until now, through the changing images and text, through the styles of compilers and painters. This book could be read as an encyclopaedia, an album or an easy reading. History of primers, which is to some extent a history of Bulgarian living in the past two centuries. The way the state, ideology and the world enter through letters. A step forward the unwritten history of the Bulgarian child, a book to start spelling out the world with." - Georgi Gospodinov, writer
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The book mixes illustrations from primer books, photographies from XIX to XXI century, portraits and short description of important writers, artists and teachers.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project was started in 2013 and finished in March 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Almost 2 years of research in different libraries and museums, searching through private collections and scanning original materials.
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
More than 6000 images have been scanned to compile a visual archive of this fundamental educational genre. The designer grid was created to ensure an equal presentation to each edition and to provide access to the four types of informational texts. Writing and image selection were done simultaneously.
The book was printed on 150 gsm offset paper in order to give a tactile sensation similar to the old ABC books. The seven chapters following the historical timeline are divided by collages using photo images from the respective periods. For the backgrounds of the collages have been used scans of the fourth covers of the ABC books. Originally those covers were left blank but now are marked by time and continuous use. The same approach has been chosen for the cover of the whole project.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Width:220 mm x Depth:16 mm x Height:280 mm; Number of pages: 160; paperback cover, 300 gsm, matt laminate; 150 gsm offset body paper
book design, graphic design, print, educational, primer book history, ABC book encyclopaedia, history of bulgarian illustration, Bulgaria
The first step of the work was to go through the stocks of 30 public libraries and more than 50 private collections to create the first catalogue of Bulgarian reading textbooks. For the purpose of the book, 700 representative images were selected. In this number are illustrations, photos, diagrams, typographical images, facsimiles. They are organised in chapters and provided with short narrative texts.
The aim was to achieve a harmonious combination of various visual and verbal information, using a neutral design that helps the reader to enter the subject. The book is for scientists, teachers, large public as well. This kind of new genre needed special approach.
TEAM MEMBERS (4) :
Design and conception - Svoboda Tzekova , Text and conception - Anton Staykov , Author texts in chapters 6 and 7 - Nadezhda Radulova and Text editor - Marin Ginev
Image #No 1: Photographer Sotir Gelev, Designer Svoboda Tzekova
Image #No 2: Photographer Sotir Gelev, Designer Svoboda Tzekova
Image #No 3: Photographer Sotir Gelev, Designer Svoboda Tzekova
Image #No 4: Photographer Sotir Gelev, Designer Svoboda Tzekova
Image #No 5: Photographer Sotir Gelev, Designer Svoboda Tzekova
Copyrights belong to:
Anton Staykov, text and conception, 2015
Svoboda Tzekova, conception, book and cover design
Nadezhda Radulova, texts in chapters 6 and 7
PROSVETA Publishing House, all rights, 2015