There's a nice mention, on the wonderful Wemadethis blog, of the jacket for Glen Duncan's new book, The Last Werewolf. (Coming mid-July from Knopf)
These are their snaps of the British version of our jacket- which, as you can see, has gold edges. Ker-POW!
Our version of the same book, here in the colonies, has deep red edges, which, frankly, looks freaking neat against the black of the jacket. Can't wait to see these babies in stores stateside.
Soon, my precious- soon.
This was not the world's cheapest book for a trade publisher like ourselves to produce.
It deserves noting that an argument I've been trying to forward for years- that high production values should be a defining aspect of hardcover books- is finally getting some traction in the halls of publishing. At least with the people I work with. At least, recently. At least, a little itsy bit.
Getting folks to agree to shelling out for the refracting foil and the staining here wasn't easy- but it was an argument that was eventually won.
I understand this new-found openness (if not willingness) to spending on production as the result of a generalized fear of the cannibalizing power of the e-book. We welcome e-books here— we just don't want them gobbling up our hardcover sales. Adding to our hardcover sales, yes. Cannibalizing, no.
Len Riggio asserted in his keynote speech to the AAP, in reference to the ebook market, that rising tides raise all boats (actually, if i'm remembering correctly- I can't find the transcript- he said "rising tides expand all markets." Tides expand markets? Oof.) and, yes, at first, they will- but eventually the hardcover is going to have to justify its existence to consumers.
And what better way to convince a customer to shell out their cash on an actual, material, corporeal book, than to actually produce it well. (Sorry Caleb- no sewn bindings yet.) As it turns out, in this particular instance, the extra bling is really helping to get stores on board. I'm hoping consumers will follow.
Will this title become a case-study for how, when a little money is spent, it will, on occasion, return to one re-doubled? Sometimes you gotta spend to make- right? RIGHT? Time will tell.
But- in order for this little fable of mine to have a happy ending, you must all go out and buy this book. Each and every one of you. If you don't, I'll eat you. So go now- don't delay.
Come for the foil, stay for the rip-snorting drama, sex, gore, humor, sex, startlingly good writing, sex, and sex.
(Because I write these blog posts hastily they often take odd twists and turns- I actually meant to talk here about Glen's book itself, and about the "genre" question- but I just got carried away on production values...
The Last Werewolf is a really wonderful book...and it is a werewolf book. Glen writes gorgeous sentences and is a virtuoso story-teller... and this book is a book about werewolves. Good book: Werewolf book. Werewolf book:good book. I would say that The Last Werewolf "transcends the genre" but I am tired of hearing people say that certain books "transcend the genre" as if genre was a handicap to be overcome. Does anyone ever utter this phrase in reference to literary fiction? As in "Jeepers, that Franzen fellow really transcends the genre!" Nope. And why would the horror genre (or Sci Fi or Fantasy...) be any less likely a place to encounter good prose than the arcadian slopes of Mount Lit-fic? I read my fill of "high" fiction every year, and boy do the tropes and conventions endemic to literary fiction produce their share of bad writing. I think that there are simply lazy habits writers develop unique to each category- habits more easily forgiven by that genre's main readership. A poorly constructed sentence may get a pass in Fantasy, but a go-nowhere plot is a-ok for the Booker crowd.
Ultimately, I think "genre" is, at best, a blunt marketing tool, and at worst, a way that certain people have of saying "badly written" in code. I vote to abolish. Here's China Miéville* on this topic and others over at the Guardian.)
*Digression to the digression- does anyone in literature nowadays construct fictional worlds better than China Miéville? He's just so goddam good at it. Sometimes it feels like his stories kinda fizzle out under the weight of these brilliant constructs...but boy is he good at building alternate but plausible realities.
While I'm at it- I just noticed, now that this post is up, that there is a certain similarity between the Kissinger in the post below, and and the Duncan above...can you spot it? Why, it's the wonderfully refreshing lack of cover copy! In both cases: author, title. Boom. No "A novel," no subtitle, no "Acclaimed Architect of the Bombing of Cambodia!" No, god help us, cover quote..... The trust the editors and publishers of these titles exhibit is praiseworthy. They are not underestimating the intelligence of their readership- and therefore the books come across as confident- bold and important. Right? This is how to achieve that elusive "big book look" we are always asked to provide- refrain from copy clutter.