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Friday, October 31, 2008

More Book Design Like This, Please

posted by on October 31 at 16:00 PM


The Vulture has an early look at Roberto Bolaño’s last book, 2666. It’s a book about scholars of a reclusive German writer, among many other things. It’s too early to tell how the book is—most critics probably haven’t finished reading their review copies—but the publisher is being smart about the format of the book, at least.

When 2666 is published in two weeks, It’ll be available in two versions: The mammoth, Pynchonesque hardcover, and a slipcased version split into three thinner paperbacks. Both versions will cost $30. I’m willing to bet that most readers of the book will opt for the paperback, for ease of carrying and also to cut a giant read up into easier-to-digest little bits. Collectors will probably be more likely to get the hardcover. But still: Why don’t Pynchon’s publishers do this when he releases a doorstop of a novel? Publishing different versions of a book, at this point, can really only help.

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Excellent for carrying on the bus.

Posted by Catman | October 31, 2008 4:25 PM

The trend in music is to now publish records and CD's in different versions with varying levels of "collectability" to counter the move to MP3. I think as books go the electronic route you'll probably see more of this.

Posted by boxofbirds | October 31, 2008 4:33 PM

Nice idea. I haven't been taking Anathem with me because it won't fit in the side pocket of my bag.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | October 31, 2008 5:37 PM

The multi-volume format is the norm in Japan, apparently, where everybody takes the subway, and everybody reads while doing it in order to spare their fellow commuters the discomfort of fleeting accidental eye contact.

Posted by Zach | October 31, 2008 7:29 PM

Re: more book design you (may) like, The New York Times has a Book Design Review blog here:

Posted by Kevin Jones | October 31, 2008 7:51 PM

Pynchon is still alive and, through his agent, controls the design, format, etc. of his new books.

Posted by Mark | November 1, 2008 7:20 AM

I'm only on page 280 of 894. It's a long road ahead.

Posted by Jon Brock | November 1, 2008 9:21 AM

They did this with the paperback version of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell also. The hardcover of that one came in black, white, or red, if I recall.

Posted by Greg | November 1, 2008 2:17 PM

I wish Against the Day had came like this, then I wouldn't have had to have waited for the not that much smaller paperback.

Posted by Marcel Duchump | November 1, 2008 6:29 PM
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