Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Chic Classics. . .

I'm always intrigued and delighted by those publishers who spend the time re-inventing the look of the classics, using ingenious design to make them irresistible objects of beauty to collect and treasure and sometimes just to drool over.  Penguin, Persephone, New Directions, Dalkey Archive,  Everyman, New York Review of Books, and Melville House's Neversink Library are all great investors in keeping these fabulous books alive along with many others, and I think their importance will only grow in this e-book era.

The French occasionally get in the act too, despite the fact that so many of their books seem to consist of endless rows of uniform cream covers with only type on the front.  A couple of years ago I walked into a French bookstore in Ottawa and was drawn to a series of paperback classics published by Gallimard's Folio imprint that were housed in these wonderfully textured slipcases.  Despite the fact that I read French very, very slowly, I was hooked and came home with several of them.

I just couldn't resist the flocked velvet of Romain Gary's La vie devant soi or the perfect subway tile design etched into the cardboard of Raymond Queneau's Zazie dans le m├ętro.  Aren't they gorgeous? They are so much fun to fondle. 

Well Folio has done it again.  Earlier this fall, I came across these two books:

Both the slipcases are smooth but look closely - can you see the metal bookmarks attached to the slipcases magnetically?  Let me pull them away for you.

Is this not one of the most beautiful packaging ideas you've ever seen?  They simply scream "buy me".  So I did. And of course I have the best intentions of spending the time to improve my French by reading them one day.  Or at least making liberal use of the bookmarks.

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