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Friday, December 5, 2008 9:48 am
Good-Looking Books a Recipe for Publishing Success?
Posted by: Keir Graff

There’s a nice post by Anne Trubek on the GOOD blog, seconding James Gleick’s NYT Op-Ed (“How to Publish without Perishing,” also linked Monday). Gleick wrote:

Forget about cost-cutting and the mass market. Don’t aim for instant blockbuster successes. You won’t win on quick distribution, and you won’t win on price. Cyberspace has that covered. Go back to an old-fashioned idea: that a book, printed in ink on durable paper, acid-free for longevity, is a thing of beauty. Make it as well as you can. People want to cherish it.

Which is sensible, given that publishing books has never been as effective a way to make money as, say, manufacturing bullets. Trubek calls out a few publishers who were following this advice before it was given, including Penguin with their Classic Deluxe Editions. I’ve seen these around the office and boy, are they fun.

I’m not as militant as Trubek about having the perfect edition of a book before I crack it, but I agree that format is an important factor.

(Thanks, Gus!)

Comments

comments

2 Responses to “Good-Looking Books a Recipe for Publishing Success?”
  1. misha Says:

    Keir,
    One of my favorite publishing manifestos was McSweeney’s when they started their book press:

    “In short, we are talking about smaller and leaner operations that use the available resources and speed and flexibility of the market (ie., the web and other consumer-driven methods), to enable us to make not cheaper and cruder (print-on-demand) books or icky, cold, robotic (electronic) books, but better books, perfect and permanent hardcover books, to do so in a fiscally sound way, and to do so not just for old-time’s sake, but because it makes sense and gives us, us people with fingers and eyes, what we want and what we’ve always wanted: beautiful things, beautiful things in our hands—to be surrounded by little heavy papery beautiful things.”

  2. Pete Says:

    I never would have bought Michael Chabon’s essay collection Maps and Legends had I not been grabbed and drawn in by its great cover design. Not surprisingly, the book was published by McSweeney’s. Conversely, I’ve been tempted to read E.L. Doctorow’s The March for several years now, but am always repelled by its horrible cover. So yes, I think there’s something to this concept of good design selling more books.


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