Monday, March 21, 2011

New Formats

I was fascinated by the news in today's Guardian about "flipbacks" a new book format that you flip from top to bottom rather than side to side, like a shorthand notepad. With thin paper, small pages, its refreshing to find there are some new ideas coming from publishers rather than handwringing about e-books etc. Responding to the recieved wisdom that books are just to big to carry with you (has anyone felt the heft of an iPad?) I had to glance twice at the date to make sure it wasn't a Guardian April fools. (Of course, being the Guardian, it might still be, and their news editor has just "scooped" one of his colleagues.)

Great to get a Guardian story on a slow news day (er...maybe not, there's Japan, there's Libya....) but a Google search tells you that Flipback is a BHS Boys Clothing Brand (something to do with skateboards I imagine), so be interesting to see if they are more than a passing fad.

To ensure a dubious future, Hodder and Stoughton are launching in dead June with a dozen "holiday reads" including the large (but already well-read) "Cloud Atlas" and the short (and slightly holiday-unfriendly) "Misery." I personally love all these kind of things. I still regret not buying some Factory records DATs back in the day years before I got a DAT player (for my own music) - and have recently picked up a few cheap price "film and book" packs, as well as all those little Penguin 60s and the like. We've had colour your own covers of classics, and reissues in hardback of modern classics - so I'm game for a few flipbacks on my shelf.

Surprised that the book industry hasn't followed the record industry in realising that collectibles are the other end of the equation to downloads. The poor quality of contemporary paperbacks - bad binding, cheap covers, and poor paper stock - makes them disposable; and its why I've loved recent hardbacks such as Julian Barnes' Arthur and George or David Mitchell's Thousand Autumns... individual authors like Iain Banks have books reissued in nicely designed "sets" - yet my bookshelves crave a publisher like Penguin or New Directions or Picador where there's such an overwhelming sense of aesthetic, only poetry publishers like Salt and Carcanet, and a few reissue specialists like Hesperus, seem to take this kind of thing seriously.

I reckon I'll buy a Flipback or two out of curiousity, or if not wait till the whole set are on discount at The Works, sometime before Christmas.

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