Unfortunately, traditional American marketing and bookselling practices don’t know how to handle paper-over-board books, and, as a result, Open Letter has been forced to move to the more popular paperback format for its next season. While I understand the necessity of the decision, I’m very disappointed. Now Open Letter titles will look like every other press’s titles. Without a doubt, I’ll be renewing my subscription for next season. Whatever the format, I know the books will be amazing, but I probably won’t be ripping open my Open Letter packages with quite so much anticipation next year.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Form Falls to Function
Like Chad Post, director of Open Letter (the University of Rochester’s newish non-profit publishing house for works in translation), I have a “visceral hatred for dust jackets.” That’s one of the reasons I’ve loved this first season of Open Letter books, most of which have been published in the paper-over-board format. As Chad explains in a post at Publishing Perspectives, “paper-over-board books are hardcovers without a dust jacket.” These books have the heft and the sturdiness of a hardcover book, but the cover design is part of the hard cover itself. This combination results in a wonderfully self-contained, beautiful object—perfect for reading or for gifting. With a good cover design, such a book is quite stunning.