The Book as Art Object

Pretty much since a drunken lunch conversation with Pablo and Ami in January, I’ve been advocating multiple editions of new books. As many editions as we can come up with: deluxe/rare print, bare-bones ebook, constantly-updated ebook, etc. And at as many price points as we can bear. What’s wrong with experimenting? The music industry learned this the hard way; publishing doesn’t need to.

Raw Shark Texts

Raw Shark Texts

On that note, a few recent developments.

  • Galleycat points to one possibility in the Popular Noise vinyl/zine.
  • I’m very much into Bblessing’s project, which features new illustrations alongside classic short stories by Fitzgerald and Kafka.
  • The great UK house Canongate is (maybe?) releasing a special edition of the cult novel The Raw Shark Texts.
  • And there’s Monocle‘s collection, starting with Alain de Botton’s On the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (see my earlier write-up here).

The existing containers for books exist purely because the methods for production and audience segmentation have been too expensive. That’s not the case anymore. Any author worth his or her salt should have an email list of readers and fans. Ask them what they want. Cheap and portable ebook? Done. Standard trade paperback? Done. Taschen-level art edition? Done. ebook/blog RSS hybrid? Done.

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