From ‘Beautiful Books’ to the ‘The Beauty of Books’

It started with our cousins at Heffers in Cambridge and this charming book by Lane Smith – our desire to promote Beautiful Books. The idea was to remind our customers of the delights of printed books over electronic. Not to say that ebooks are ‘bad’ and printed books ‘good’ but to show that there remain aspects of the physicality of books that are yet to be replicated in digital form.

Some of the beautiful books that we highlighted were:

Information is Beautiful” by David McCandless

A book where all sorts of political, social and economic statistics are rendered visually. This book came out of a fantastic website but sales of the printed book have been exceptional – whenever we choose to promote it the sales spike significantly. There appears to be no conflict of interest between a free website and paying for an exquisite printed copy. Just one example of the type of infographic is this fun taxonomy of ideas:

Another book that we loved putting in front of our customers was

Again lavishly illustrated this edition is a stunning book where in addition to Freud’s groundbreaking text there are 16 essays by Jeffrey Masson, excerpts from other big names in psychoanalysis and a good biography of Freud. But it is the gorgeous art work that lifts this edition into the beautiful books category…
The promotion also enabled us to highlight specific publishers or series such as Langford Press who specialise in wildlife art
Or Wooden Books a charming series of small books about big ideas. These books are designed as gifts, lovely to own. They are beautifully made, case-bound, printed using ultra-fine plates on the highest quality recycled laid paper, finished with thick recycled endpapers and sewn in sections. There are fine, hand drawn illustrations on every page. At just £5.99 for each book in the series it proves that beautiful books can suit every pocket.

Another small, independent list that we jumped at the chance to promote was the excellent Little Toller Books from The Dovecote Press in Dorset. Reprints of classic British writing on rural life and nature they are beautifully designed and include famous works such as “Ring of Bright Water” by Gavin Maxwell and “The South Country” by Edward Thomas

As you can see there is no shortage of beautiful books for us to put in front of you, and we will continue to search high and low to unearth more gorgeous gems that might otherwise remain hidden from public view. However, it is not just about physically beauty we are now working on a new iteration of the promotion around the theme of ‘The Beauty of Books’ – this will allow us to promote books that are beautiful on the inside. Perhaps “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde or  “Hope in the Dark” by Rebecca Solnit or “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman or “Charlotte’s Web” by EB White Of course there is no shortage of options for us to choose and promote but, as ever, we would love to hear from you the books that you deem to be beautiful on the inside…

2 comments

  1. Thanks for this interesting post, and for alerting me to some beautiful books that are out there for adults. I was commenting on this the other day – that so much effort goes into making amazing, visually breathtaking books for children but it appears that it doesn’t happen so much in adult publishing. I stand corrected from what I have seen in your post, though I wonder if a case could be made for fiction? Would adults buy more hard copies of books (as in physical copies, not downloads) if they were prettier? More substantial? Presumably they would come with a higher price tag, but why is it that we are willing to spend a lot on a pretty book for a child but hesitate for ourselves? I feel a blog post coming on…
    PS Will have a think about books that are beautiful on the inside, I know of a fair few that I like…

    1. Fair points, Sam. There is a school of thought that beautiful books will be the one type that will survive after ebooks have fulfilled their potential. Paperback fiction sales have declined across the board in the past year as these sales transfer to digital. The books that you want to own and cherish will be the ones that you pay for in hard copy…

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