Join The “Be Kind to Books Club”! Collect this vintage PSA.
The Be Kind to Books Club is now accepting new members! We’ve resurrected this 30s-era poster design in our newest Vintage Edition, a shout out to all the punctilious page turners, conscientious book collectors, and careful tome conservators out there. If you’ve ever chastised a loved one for manhandling your recent paperback acquisition or shuddered at the sight of reckless dog-earing, this print is for you. Is your at-home library as essential as an extra limb? Does the thought of lending your lit fill you with dread? Yup, you’re a member of the Be Kind to Books Club, where it’s ok to be over-the-top about books.
To be formally inducted into this league of book lovers, you need only an abiding bibliophilia and one of our new vintage prints for your very own. In sniffing out the original image file we refined for art print form, we discovered there’s actually a whole series of similar posters beseeching people to practice care with their reading material. “Don’t dog ear”, “a bookmark would be better”, and “rain is bad for a book” they read. But the all-encompassing simplicity of the statement on display in Be Kind to Books Club really caught our attention. It’s delightfully didactic, a positive appeal to be a part of a book-protecting brigade.
This artwork’s adamant but approachable enthusiasm is perhaps traceable to its target audience: Be Kind to Books Club was intended to encourage children, especially, to read and care for books. Stop destroying their spines by folding their front covers backwards, keep them safe and dry—basically, treat your tomes with respect! It’s a savvy PSA—teaching kids to care for books, to elevate them to the status of something worth safeguarding, just might sow some full grown bibliophiles. The cartoonish figures and playful primary colors amp up the youthful energy, while the underlying theme of belonging and friendship speaks to childhood aspirations. Reading is often thought of as a solo activity, but there’s a definite camaraderie in the cluster of blue silhouettes, and in the idea of being a member of a club.
Created as part of the Works Progress Administration—a government employment program with the aim of ameliorating the economic effects of the Great Depression—Be Kind to Books Club was one of the more than 30,000 public-facing poster designs dreamed up by American artists for the Federal Art Project. While the posters spanned a broad range of subjects, they shared a public service approach, espousing messages of community morale, participation, health and wellbeing. In the case of Be Kind to Books Club, the immediate takeaway is crystal clear: show your books some love! But the bold lettering on the sign, a punchy combo of plump uppercase and curly cursive, emphasizes the word “kind”, and togetherness takes center stage in the poster design. Which is to say: this edition is about empathy, after all. Is there any idea more worthy of your wall?