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The architects of the book

Linda Eerme & Robin Kinross / 2002.05.22

Architectural and design publishing has seen remarkable changes in recent years. How does this sector of publishing work now? How did it come to have this structure? What part does the design of these books play? This article tackles these questions and suggests some answers. After a wide-ranging survey, we profile a number of publishers that help to make up the liveliest sector of the present scene. This text was published, with many illustrations of the books discussed, in ‘Domus’, no. 847, April 2002. Read more

LIBF 99

1999.02.20

The London International Bookfair happens (28 to 30 March) in the airy halls of Olympia. We will be there, sharing stand G142 with Libris Books.

Lazy links

Robin Kinross / 2007.01.20

When it launched its website in July 1995, the internet seller Amazon seemed a wondrous thing. Here was a bookstore stocked with almost every title, and one that would reach parts of the country (the United States of America) that were far from any bricks-and-mortar shop. It was indeed based in Seattle, and its employees, one imagined, were mainly grunge-kids in baggy jeans and t-shirts, fetching and packing the books for minimum wages. The company seemed endearing to those of us who like brave new ventures. Read more

London Book Fair

2007.04.15

We are taking part in the London Book Fair, at Earls Court, from 16 to 18 April. Find our books at the stand of our representatives, Troika, stand Z640.

Buy this book by Nicolete giovanni M Gray today!

Robin Kinross / 2007.07.30

This and this, and this and this, show why it is safer to look at the website of the publisher of a book, rather than at one of the websites of the internet shop Amazon. Very small publishers, especially, tend to change the details of their books (number of pages, cover design, price) even weeks before publication, and they also tend not to have enough time to inform the big selling beast that these things have been changed since the book was first announced. For more on Amazon, and why it should be regarded with some doubt, see here. (Update, September 2007. By this time Amazon had found the final cover images of these books, and improved its description of them. So now we have to explain that the first and third links here were to provisional images and advance details. The mystery of the line ‘Buy this book by Nicolete giovanni M Gray today!’ remains. These words really did appear on the Amazon website, as if it is robots who write the script.)

Biospeak

Robin Kinross / 2007.08.09

Two demon constituents of capsule English-language biographies (for book-flaps, catalogues, CVs, and so on) are ‘currently’ and ‘based in’. ‘Cormac Wrathbone is a freelance writer and critic, currently based in London.’ What’s wrong here? It’s not just the tiredness of the phrasing. Read more

Penguins lose the plot

Large penguin lewis

Robin Kinross / 2007.11.01

As any long-term reader and watcher of Penguin Books knows, the company has always cultivated its own history, seizing the chance of an anniversary to make an exhibition or put out a book celebrating its own story. And, as with any history, a full account – one that takes in the downsides and the incoherencies and failures – is always more interesting, as well as truer, than a story that looks just at the high sunlit pastures. This more rounded account will also be more complimentary than the bland self-celebration: one sees the great achievements in the context of difficulties overcome. Read more

Benjamin and New Left Books (now Verso) – and Libris

Robin Kinross / 2008.12.13

Further to this discussion of the Benjamin archive book, published in English by Verso, some invaluable notes on the history of the publication of Walter Benjamin’s writings can be found here, as a prelude to the publication next year of Erdmut Wizisla’s Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht: the story of a friendship, 1924–1940.1 Let the Verso editorial staff read these notes, and learn. Read more

Amazon again

2009.04.13

More on ‘one of the most powerful forces in the publishing industry – with the power to make or break a book’: another in an occasional series (first post was here), see: here

Judging books

2010.01.25

The National Mental Coach of the Netherlands – Wim de Bie – recently visited Zutphen (‘book-city Zutphen’) to ask and answer the question ‘how do you choose a book?’. Read more

To be fired with enthusiasm

2010.04.15

An obituary of Bernard Coutaz, founder of Harmonia Mundi, an exemplary publishing company: here

London Book Fair 2010

2010.04.15

We are at the London Book Fair next week, with a metre-width of space at stand E200.

B42: a new website

2010.05.20

The new website of a bright French imprint: here

Designer as publisher

Large hollis publications

Robin Kinross / 2010.07.07

Some years ago – I recall events and publications in the early 1990s – there was some noise about the ‘designer as author’: graphic designers would have a hand in writing (or maybe ‘authoring’) the texts that they also designed, and designers could even be considered as authors. It follows from the technology: the text gets shaped by designers, and the last touch before publication may now be in a designer’s hands. And there is the fact that content is always embodied in its form, and so to make form is also to shape content. But it does not follow that the designer needs to become an author. I don’t believe we should give up on the ideal of the designer working hand-in-hand with an author: listening, thinking, suggesting possibilities, making changes to first proposals, and often following an author’s wishes. There are clear advantages in a separation of the two roles: designers see things that authors can’t, and vice versa. (Against all this, the arrival of another new technic – screen displays of content – may take this process in another direction: away from the hands of any designer and into the domain of the ‘browser’ and its settings, and of the particular screen that is used.) Read more

Amazon once more

2010.08.23

Some previous posts here have offered indirect criticisms of the shop Amazon.1 Now here is a direct assault on the behemoth, made by a publisher with much mainstream experience, just starting out on a new venture that will work outside the existing book trade and sell direct to customers. Read more

Amazon and tax

2011.09.07

Richard Fletcher in The Daily Telegraph: “… the likes of Amazon, Google and eBay are no longer the loss-making start-ups they once were, but are now among some of the largest companies in the world”: here

Frankfurt 2012

2012.10.05

Our books and catalogues are at the Buchmesse, on the stand of Coen Sligting Bookimport: Halle 4.1, K547.

Bread and Roses Award 2013 shortlist

Large breadandroses 2013

2013.03.06

We are delighted that Autonomy, edited by Daniel Poyner, is among the books shortlisted for this year’s Bread and Roses Award. The book finally chosen for the award, by a panel of three, will be announced on 11 May at the London Radical Bookfair in the good old Conway Hall.

Net and book: an interview with Roland Reuß

Large hypnose cover sm

2015.11.30

The interview that follows was recorded on 20 August 2015 in Roland Reuß’s office at the University of Heidelberg. The text has been lightly edited for ease of reading, but otherwise follows closely what was spoken. Read more

Books discovered in a cupboard

Large tp6 discovered

2016.02.03

A familiar book-trade story: a book sells out, is declared out-of-print. A few years pass and a box of fresh copies of this item turns up in some clear-out or tidy-up in a distributor’s warehouse or a publishing office. This has just happened with Typography papers 6, which we published in 2005. We have 30-odd copies for sale. Read more