Confessions of a Bibliophile


Pick a setting to frequent and record your personal observations over the course of several weeks. Using these notes, write and design a fictional first-person narrative that uses photography in conjunction with unique and compelling typographic compositions to tell the story. 


CONFESSIONS OF A BIBLIOPHILE is a 60pp altered book that tells the story of a man obsessed.

Identity + Mark  |  Photography  |  Papercraft  |  Editorial Design + Layout  |  Copy Writing + Editing


I’m an avid bookworm, so I decided to record my experiences combing around my favorite libraries, book fairs and shop--both new and used--around San Francisco. I thought it would be interesting to fictionalize my observations and write more of a fantasy piece. I wanted to be a bit tongue-in-cheek and treat books as a consuming, almost dangerous obsession. 

The librarian character is a personification of the printed page and also a spectre that haunts me as I read. I developed both a first-person narrative and a third-person voice, which is typeset to represent the book I’m actually reading throughout. Thus the text is a story within a story. 

For the typographic compositions, I decided to go without a grid and be more expressive and playful with the arrangements. The faces are a mixture of Victorian with gothic to underscore both the period setting and the fetish-like qualities of the narrative. 

The photography for this project was unique in that I received formal permission from the City of San Francisco to conduct a shoot in the rare book room of the SF Public Library after hours with myself and the ‘librarian.’ I then retouched the images and developed them into collage compositions.

The final format took the shape of an altered book; I found some turn-of-the-century volumes and cut the center out of the text blocks to bind-in my story. The book is complete with plastic dust jacket, call number and stamped check card. 


I was really taken with the New York Public Library’s Gothic/Art Deco styling during the early decades of the twentieth century. It was important to use faces that represented the period well but were also expressive enough thematically to serve the story. The P22 foundry excels at period type, so I chose Pan Am (based on lettering from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition) for the primary body face. Their Victorian Swash provided a whimsical contrast. Finally, Jonathan Barnbrook’s Mason for Emigre provided a darker, more gothic edge, which played to the fetishism I sought to introduce. 


The chocolate, burgundy and tan are from photographs of antique tomes that I took in the city library’s stacks. These were balanced by a green and blue from the librarian’s outfit. Because of the altered book format, it was vital to create a texture and color cast that matched the existing paper. I added hand-rendered foxing in some places to accentuate the age of the piece.