Designed for HI-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury america

Now in paperback, makes a great gift!

“One of the smartest books we've ever seen on album cover art – a lavish full color volume that not only presents loads of classic images, but also has plenty to say about them as well!” –Dusty Groove Records, Chicago

Published by MIT Press, Designed for Hi-Fi Living is priced at $22.95 for the paperback edition, and can be found online for less. Here is a brief selection of LP covers from the book. We describe each one to tell a story of postwar America.

Offering a fascinating glimpse into the postwar imagination, the first part, “Home,” explores how the American home entered the frontlines of Cold War debates and became an entertainment zone—a place to play music, mix drinks, and impress guests with displays of good taste. The second part, “Away,” considers albums featuring music, pictures, and tourist information that prepared Americans for the jet age as well as the space race.

“This extraordinary and brilliantly curated book reveals how the tropes of cultured living were disseminated through the universal medium of music decades before the era of ‘designer pop’. Revisionary and essential.” —Peter Saville, artist and designer; founder and art director of Factory Records; author of Designed by Peter Saville

“What Walter Benjamin is to the Parisian arcades of the nineteenth century, Borgerson and Schroeder are to the midcentury American living room. Through the magical window of the LP cover they let us rediscover the phantasmagorias of postwar America. I love this book.” —Daniel Birnbaum, Director of Acute Art, London; contributing editor of Artforum
“Exploring the secret life of records, Borgerson and Schroeder comb the discarded and recovered bins of thrift-store vinyl for clues to a hidden agenda.  At once hilarious and penetrating, their astute observations and thoughtful groupings cut across genre, label, and designer to reveal uncanny continuities that link jazz, rock, easy listening, self-help, exotica, folkloric, and other impossible to pin-down modalities in an eye-popping slide show of the mid-century American imaginary.”
—John Corbett, writer and curator; author of Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium and A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation

For more information about booking the authors for speaking engagements, book signings, and shindigs, or if you have general questions about the book, contact us at:

We are a creative team and have been writing about vinyl, among other topics, for over 20 years. Our work has appeared in a wide range of publications from Cool and Strange Music to the World Financial Review. Having collected records over several decades, our enthusiasm for modern design, backyard barbecues, and travel abroad found expression in our book, Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America. We live in Rochester, New York.

Janet Borgerson – When I was young, my dad brought me copies of the new Monkees vinyl LPs, and then Rubber Soul by The Beatles and since then, I have never been without records.  I divide my time between Michigan, New York, and England. I write mostly about consumer culture, aesthetics, and identity.

I studied philosophy, economics, and writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, completing postdoctoral work at Brown University. Early on, a writing fellowship from the Cranbrook Institute gave me a taste of living with modern design. My writing often draws on my background in art history, film studies, and branding.

Jonathan Schroeder – I was born in Michigan, and have lived in California, Rhode Island, Sweden, England, and New York. The first LP I remember buying is the Shaft soundtrack album.

I studied perception, music, and psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California-Berkeley. Currently,  I am the William A. Kern Professor in the School of Communication, Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I write a lot about branding, identity, photography, visual communication.

After our March 2018 appearance at Found Sound in Ferndale, MI.

After our March 2018 appearance at Found Sound in Ferndale, MI.

Fabulous finds at Down Home Music, El Cerrito, CA

Fabulous finds at Down Home Music, El Cerrito, CA