Does Anyone Remember Books?

06/01/2009 1:09 PM |

Book Expo America is an annual weekend conference where the publishing industry showcases its wares to insiders for the upcoming fall season. It’s both an opportunity for publishing houses to woo book buyers and a chance for publishers to size up their competition. Everyone from Hyperion to Chronicle to Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. (and a bajillion others) set up a booth in the behemoth that is the Javits Center. There was a jittery feeling this year, as the usual perks (galleys, pins, etc) were meager, and a feeling of desperation about the fate of the book industry was lingering. Nonetheless, before the book as an object disintegrates into the past and we all have audio e-book microchips installed directly into our cerebellums (cerebella?), it was heartening to see the valiant efforts of the industry while it is still vaguely maintaining its traditional form. Take a gander at a handful of publishers whose singular book objects trump the Kindle by a very (very) long shot:

The Postmodern Library
Slim and petite (like an elf, but paperback) these sweetly-sized books are super portable — the size of a large index card. The six published bring varied topics to the attention of the reader, the six volumes range from Modern Day Bank Robberies (Maybe the guy who robbed French jeweler Chopard over the weekend has this one on his shelf!) to 21st Century Addictions & Obsessions. They slip easily into your bag, and, really, who doesn’t want to be postmodern?

Simply Read
You may think you’re beyond children’s books (though the forthcoming Where the Wild Things movie may prove otherwise). These lovely illustrated books are visually compelling for children — and for adults with an ever-present nostalgia for childhood. Check out ABC by Julie Morstad to see what I mean.

Various Arts Book Publishers
Yeah, I know: they’re expensive and hefty and art books are for the pompous bourgeois who simply want to adorn their table-tops while they entertain the champagne-sipping set. But seriously, paging through these colorful and compelling tomes instantly jogs the imagination. Though teNeues and Assouline are the obvious leaders of the art publishing world, taking a peek at the offerings of lesser-known but equally worthy names like Laurence King, Thames and Hudson and Abrams. While they maaaaaaay make you realize how maddeningly far away you yourself are from the glam art world, painting, photography, architecture and other such creative subjects provide escapism from everyday drudgery.