As a card-carrying member of the publishing world (for what that's worth, these days!), I'm a big fan of "series" books. It's kind of a requirement of the business, right? I know why publishers and booksellers love a good series - once you've done the legwork of establishing a series with your readers, the subsequent volumes are halfway out the door. And I'm not even talking about the Mount Olympus of series like Twilight and H. Potter. There are plenty of series out there, and it's the rare publisher that doesn't dabble in them.
What I'm thinking about tonight are three series that (almost certainly) do not contain any wizarding schools or troublesome vampire boyfriends. These are series for serious booklovers. These are for lovers of beautiful books.
Top Row: 33 1/3 Books
The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka
by Mark Richardson
Continuum Books | 9780826429018 | $10.95 | Oct 2009
Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
by Christopher Weingarten
Continuum Books | 9780826429131 | $10.95 | Jan 2010
By Jessica Suarez
Continuum Books | 9780826429124 | $10.95 | Jan 2010
First up is a the best-established series of the three, the 33 1/3 series from Continuum Books. If you're not familiar with the series concept, writers of all stripes - bloggers, journalists, novelists, musicians - take it upon themselves to write a novella-lenth paean to a single, iconic album by a band or individual musician.
The Wikipedia entry for the series does a great job of listing the complete series, in publication order. The official 33 1/3 blog, hosted by a number of Continuum staff, including series editor David Barker, is a terrific source of information relating to the series, events around the books, and upcoming titles. They have also used the blog to announce "open enrollment" periods when David has accepted proposals for future books in the series from the public. (HINT: They're not currently accepting proposals at this time.)
Many of my bookstores who do not have a thriving music section will frequently pass on them, but I have seen bookstores break them out of their natural section, give them some featured space and they begin to sell and sell.
Middle Row: Photofile
by Colin Ford
Thames & Hudson / Norton | 9780500410981 | $15.95 | Sept 2009
by Sarah Moon
Thames & Hudson / Norton | 9780500410998 | $15.95 | Sept 2009
by Jean Lacouture
Thames & Hudson / Norton | 9780500410660 | $15.95 | April 2009
The second row features the terrific Photofile series from Thames & Hudson, which has a publishing philosophy that is similar to the 33 1/3 series: to bring together the iconic photographs from the world's great photographers in an attractive format, at an affordable price. Each volume has about 60 duotone images, a critical introduction and full bilbliography.
Earlier titles in the series have included luminaries such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Helmut Newton, Edward Steichen, as well as titles that focus on the Magnum Photo agency and the Surrealist Photographers.
The Lewis Carroll and Sarah Moon volumes are the two new Photofile titles for Fall 2009. The Robert Capa book was just published earlier this spring.
Bottom Row: New Directions' Pearls series
Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico
By Javier Marías
New Directions / Norton | 9780811218580 | $9.95 | Feb 2010
The Tales of Desire
by Tennessee Williams
New Directions / Norton | 9780811218566 | $9.95 | Feb 2010
In Search of Duende
by Federico García Lorca
New Directions / Norton | 9780811218559 | $9.95 | Feb 2010
Legendary publisher New Directions, founded by James Laughlin in 1936, is one of the bastions of literary publishing - the first American publisher of Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, W.G. Sebald, and Roberto Bolano. Their unrelenting focus on writers from around the world has helped bring a chorus of legendary voices to American bookshelves.
This winter, they are launching their new Pearls series - small paperbacks with lovely cover designs, bringing a close-up focus to some of their best authors' shorter works:
- a short story Spanish novelist Javier Marias (author of the epic multivolume novel Your Face Tomorrow)
- a collection of short stories by playwright Tennessee Williams
- an essay on aesthetics by Federico Garcia Lorca, combined with an assortment of his poems
Though this is the newest of the three featured series, I think the Pearls series will make for a great display in stores. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next in the series.
> In addition to the three featured 33 1/3 books above, Continuum is also publishing two more this fall season: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future and Funkadelic's Maggot Brain.
> The Pearls series from New Directions is launching this winter with the three titles featured above and a fourth book, Patriotism by Yukio Mishima.