After having spent some time with rageth's fifteen plus years in the making publication we must say we are not overly impressed.
There are just too many aspects we see as mistakes and flaws for us to claim otherwise.
So in keeping with RK's practice of documenting and proving our statements with fact and proof we will back up our opinion in the forthcoming installments of our extensive planned review.
For now this first one will concentrate on the visual and technical factors of the book’s production. But our over-riding complaint is this book tries to do too much, and in doing so fails to achieve the level of worth some people are already claiming it will have for Turkmen rug studies.
According to its credits rageth not only wrote the book, he produced and designed it as well.
Had he hired expert professionals, or been more adept himself, RK believes the overall production and usefulness of this book could have been greatly improved.
RK knows a considerable amount about book printing, both pre- and post-press production, including design, layout, color separation, color correcting, and binding.
We were hands-on in the production of our “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim” book, as well our “Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth: Classic Weavings of the Caucasus” and “Cult Kelim” publications.
So we have the knowledge and expertise to judge the rageth Turkmen book.
The largest visual and practical drawback is its landscape format that forced picturing all the main carpets, which are far more than half of the weavings in the color picture section plus the cover as well, horizontally rather than vertically.
This creates a major problem for readers, as well as those who will only look at the pictures.
Who wants to keep turning a heavy book, each volume weighs about 6.5 lbs, around and around each time one wants to view an image properly?
For sure we can tell you RK doesn't.
Then rageth’s decision to make the pictures of the chuval, torba, and other smaller weavings as large as possible on each page destroys the essential mystique good Turkmen weavings are able to project.
This might not be noticed by most viewers on first glance but as one returns again and again these mal-proportioned, ungainly, too large images make many of these pieces look far less interesting than they actually are.
We are talking about the balance between the image, the surrounding page border and page size. Something an unskilled designer, like jurg rageth, failed miserably to properly comprehend.
Instead of making each image as large as the page could possibly hold, far better would have been to correctly proportion each image to the page size.
Also, some of the photos have a partial black background that was then placed on a white page, while most have an all white background.
This, like the unbalanced overly large photos, is visually disconcerting, something no well trained professional designer, or even someone with proper aesthetic judgment, would have allowed to happen.
The landscape format, twice as wide as high, is not really suited to picture Turkmen main carpets, and since an overwhelming percentage of the color plates are main carpets it does seem to be a poor choice.
Again put this, too, down to rageth's lack of design skill and lack of training.
Far better would have been to produce the book in the same size but instead of making the book in the landscape format turning it 90 degrees to create a book that was twice as high as it was wide.
This would have made the book easier to handle, far easier to read and of course to allow the presentation of all the Turkmen main carpets vertically, as they should be seen, and not horizontally.
Undoubtedly another reason amateur designer rageth chose the landscape format was to present all the charts and tables this book contains.
Frankly RK doubts many readers will ever reference them, so choosing this ungainly format to present them was another error.
And besides a good book designer would have been able to present those same charts and tables in the higher than long format we suggest should have been used.
Plus incorporating all the information in those tables within relevant parts of the text would surely have been equally as good a choice, if not far better. In fact, RK believes it would have been superior, allowing readers to forgo shuffling back and forth between the two volumes, as well and within each one.
Again we see this a poor design choice to present the information rageth the author has loaded into the 800 plus pages.
We have already noticed, even after reading only less than 100 pages of his text, there are some recurring instances where he repeats himself saying the same thing twice, or using the same figure illustration, adding to an already far to large text.
And although we have read more than enough of the text, not until we read far more we will comment on the book’s content.
We should also mention the color printing is adequate, but surely not exemplary. Actually, it looks far better in good sunlight than it does in any type of indoor lighting.
This is both a plus and a minus, as people will read the book indoors and therefore view pictures that are definitely compromised by indoor lighting.
For those of you who already have the book, take the volume with the color plates outside in good indirect sunlight and you will see how much better the printing will appear.
While we can sympathize with rageth choosing to go this route for correcting the color plate printing, or maybe it was just an accident due to his lack of experience, far better would have been to color correct and balanced the printing to look as good as possible in indoor, non-natural light.
After all who reads a book like this outside?
Again, a poor choice made by amateur designer and color print project manager mr rageth.
Then there is the issue of the quality of the binding.
Excellent book binding is an expensive and tricky part of the book making operation, and most printers scrimp on it to save money.
An experienced book designer and project manager knows how to insist on getting his money's worth, and proper binding, while an inexperienced one ends up with inferior binding and books that will fall apart with use.
This will definitely be the case here as each volumes 400 plus pages, pages that are a heavy 150 gram weight, have been bound with techniques that are totally unsuitable for their weight.
Below is a photograph RK took of the binding of our new unhandled volume I.
We have added a black and a yellow arrow, and one yellow slash, to point out the flimsy, unreinforced connection between the block of the book’s pages and the front and back covers.
This thin piece of paper will soon tear and break as these books are used and the covers will then become separated from the block of sewn pages it formerly held in place.
Watch and see how these books will break away from their covers after substantial use, which will be magnified by forcing readers to constantly turn the books around to view the main carpets vertically, as well to shuffle back and forth to try and relate the information in the tables and charts with the photos and text portions to which they refer.
More to come, stay tuned…