A post from Shady Characters

More on The Book

Publication of The Book is still a few months away (if you haven’t circled August 23 on your calendar with a fat red marker pen, I urge you to do so right now), but I thought it might be nice to take a closer look at the book itself, both inside and out.

David High's cover for The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Ex­plor­a­tion of the Most Power­ful Ob­ject of Our Time. (W. W. Norton, August 2016.)
David High’s cover for The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Ex­plor­a­tion of the Most Power­ful Ob­ject of Our Time. (W. W. Norton, August 2016.)

First, David High’s cover.* The image above is a rendering rather than the real thing, but the finished article should be quite something. Unlike Shady Characters, there’s no jacket here: the boards and binding tape (handily identified by one of the many explanatory captions set in Zuzana Licko’s Mrs Eaves) are deliberately exposed to reveal how the book is put together. The title, subtitle, publisher’s mark and other accompanying text are stamped onto the cover, rather than printed, in a neat echo of traditional metal-on-leather techniques. That title, incidentally, is set in Paul Renner’s evergreen Futura, as it was on the American hardback edition of Shady Characters; bonus points go to anyone who can identify the typeface used for the vertically-aligned “THE” next to the word “BOOK”.

Judith Abbate's design for the interior of The Book, as composited by Brad Walrod.
Judith Abbate’s design for the interior of The Book, as composited by Brad Walrod.

Next is Judith Abbate’s splendid interior design, as composited by Brad Walrod. The first page of the introduction gives you a feel for just how rich the text is: it’s set in Robert Slimbach’s Adobe Jenson Pro Light, a modern revival of the work of French printer Nicolas Jenson, and is printed in the same black-and-red colour scheme used for Shady Characters.

There is much more to it than that, of course: the seventy-odd images that accompany the text, of which I hope to show you more later, will be printed in full colour; the book will be sewn rather than glued, which should make it a more pleasurable read and a hell of a lot more relevant to its content; and it even comes complete with some cut-out-and-keep templates for teaching yourself the ins and outs of different folding schemes. That said, if you like what you see here, you can order The Book in the USA from W. W. Norton, Amazon.com, Indiebound or Powell’s. In the rest of the world, order from Amazon.co.uk, The Book Depository or Waterstones.

Update: in a happy coincidence, the first printed copies of The Book arrived today at the W. W. Norton’s London office — here are a few shots of the finished book!

Cover of The Book
Cover of The Book.
Title page of The Book
Title page of The Book.
Page spread from The Book
Page spread from The Book.
David can usually be found at highdzn.com, but his site is currently unavailable. 

16 comments on “More on The Book

  1. Comment posted by Bill M on

    Done & pre-ordered.

    I look forward to reading it. I truly enjoyed Shady Characters.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Thanks, all! I’m excited (and not a little nervous) to see how you all enjoy The Book. It was quite a leap from Shady Characters in terms of research and structure, and I hope that I’ve done justice to the history of the book.

  2. Comment posted by Gordon Brandly on

    And for those of us in Canada, you can pre-order at Amazon.ca. They say it’ll be released on September 6. (I’m a long-time reader, first time commenter. This book looks delightful already, and I’ve already pre-ordered mine. :)

  3. Comment posted by Gordon Brandly on

    Oops, sorry for the messed-up (but functional) link.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Gordon — thanks for the comment, and I hope you enjoy The Book! I’ve tidied up the link — thank you for pointing the Canadian readers out there in the right direction.

  4. Comment posted by Robin Rendle on

    I am so thoroughly excited about this! Can’t wait to grab a copy.

  5. Comment posted by Gunther on

    Pre-ordered at Amazon.de and looking forward to reading it!

  6. Comment posted by Brian Inglis on

    The blurb box at Amazon.ca has your book’s Canadian blurb prefixed with the font cover, title, and blurb for “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee at the top! Looks like a bad copy and paste which missed clearing out the previous blurb. Might want to ask someone at Norton or their Penguin Canada branch to contact Amazon.ca to get that fixed and the rest of the content checked! Despite this minor quibble, it is ranking #6 in Book Making and Binding, and #14 in Printing. Good work and good luck for the release!

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Brian — that’s a bit unfortunate. I’ll contact Norton to ask them to sort that out. Thanks for catching that!

    2. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      A quick update on this: it turns out that the text that you mention, Brian, is part of Amazon’s own advertising system. It seems to be specific to amazon.ca — at least, it doesn’t appear on amazon.com or amazon.co.uk — and, unfortunately, there’s nothing I or the publisher can do about it. Frustrating!

  7. Comment posted by Jamsheed on

    This looks lovely. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    And actually, I am someone who still, still, refuses to buy an e-book reader because I love the materiality of a book in my hands, so this is extremely exciting.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Jamsheed — thanks for the comment! I’m excited too, and I hope you enjoy The Book.

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