I love a well-made book. There is something awesome about a book with golden edges and an embossed cover. I like pages with heft and texture, and books with color illustration. However I am also a great fan of classic science fiction, and 1960s scifi seems rarely to intersect with fine binding techniques. I often go to the used book stores and find paperbacks with yellow cracked pages and broken spines. The cover art is often wonderful, but these books are dying and falling apart. Many of these books have not been reprinted recently, or are offered only for outrageous prices as ebooks.
Lovely books were always a source of inspiration as a kid. This Tasha Tudor fairy tale book was my favorite (and was a big source of inspiration for my own collection of fairy tales). I hope with the rise in ebooks, we will see a rise in beautiful books. When you need not spend space on books, perhaps that space will be spent on books that are also art objects. Lately, I feel like I’ve been seeing more attention towards the appearance of books. Right now it’s more limited to literary classics, but I hope it will grow towards science fiction, which seems like it could benefit from such visualizations. Here are a few pretty books I’ve noticed:
- Hiroshige, by Taschen (pictured above). This book is gorgeous. Bone clasps hold together the cover, and the book is bound in the traditional Japanese stab-binding style. The paper feel like it is cotton, and it really suits the art it bears. Also at $40, it isn’t insane, and it’s even cheaper on amazon.
- Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics Series. There are a ton of books in this series, from Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arabian Nights to Foundation and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. One complaint: it’s very hard to judge the contents from the web. I found in person that the older out of copyright works had many more illustrations inside. I especially like their Arabian Nights. Most of these are around $20, so they are affordable.
- Basically anything by Folio Society. I am particularly intrigued by their Foundation Trilogy, which has some fun-looking illustrations. Folio Society is a bit pricier, so I haven’t gotten anything from them yet.
I would love to hear about any other finds as well. Good hunting! (And here’s some lovely bookcases as well.)