As reported by Shelf Awareness November 14, a survey performed by The Digital Reader found 35 percent of almost 2,000 respondents had used their e-reader device only once. And, of that number, 25 percent said they preferred to read paper books.
Also today, I received a package from Paris with an advance copy of Elfriede Jelinek’s Her Not All Her, a play about the great Swiss writer Robert Walser and the newest release in the Cahiers Series, published jointly by Sylph Editions and The Center for Writers & Translators at the American University of Paris. (I believe this is the only time in my life I’ve received a package from France. I’ve never been there. It was a big moment.)
Although the first book in the series, Translating Music by Richard Pevear, was published five years ago, this is the first time the eighteen cahiers have been distributed in the United States. Published in Paris and London, by way of Seagull Books in Kolkata, by way of the University of Chicago Press.
The cahiers average about 50 pages and are illustrated with paintings, drawings and photographs. They fall into a category that a friend of mine refers to as looking like “Krap on a Kindle.” Not that you couldn’t digitalize them and sell them online for the price of a pack of smokes, but why would you?
They were mentioned in a Publishers Weekly article on big books coming from small presses and featured in the “Beating E-Books with Backlist” seminar at the Mountains and Plains annual tradeshow.
I doubt this description will mean much to anyone outside of book production but they are “Printed by Principal Colour, Paddock Wood, on Neptune Unique (text) and Chagall (dust jacket). Set in Giovanni Mardersteig’s Monotype Dante.” What it means to the rest of us is that they are drop dead gorgeous.
And they’re not just pretty. They’re really smart. Lydia Davis on the problems of translating Proust. A Laszlo Krasnahorkai /Max Neumann collaboration. Richard Pevear on translating War and Peace. A short story by South African
writer Ivan Vladislavic.
As Grey Thursday and Black Friday approach, with snarky price comparison smartphone apps and instant downloads, the timing of the survey and the arrival of my package reinforced the importance of the physicality of bookstores to me. All of the tactile reasons – sight, touch, smell – that keep printed books in their own universe are magnified when you’re there with a work of art in your hand.
You can’t get that on Cyber Monday. But you can buy the cahiers at most independent bookstores.
The Cahiers Series
1 Translating Music | Richard Pevear
2 Walking on Air | Muriel Spark
3 Circles of Silence | J Harvey and J-C Carrière
4 Drunken Boats | Alan Jenkins
5 Proust, Blanchot and a Woman in Red | Lydia Davis
6 Text on Textile | Isabella Ducrot
7 Days Bygone | Rachel Shihor
8 When the Pie Was Opened | Paul Muldoon
9 Notes from the Hall of Uselessness | Simon Leys
10 Józef Czapski: A Life in Translation | Keith Botsford
11 In the Thick of Things | Vincen Cornu
12 Lost and Found | Alison Leslie Gold
13 Ballade Nocturne | Gao Xingjian
14 Animalinside | László Krasznahorkai & Max Neumann
15 Evasions | Daniel Albright
16 Writing Beckett’s Letters | George Craig
17 A Labour of Moles | Ivan Vladislavic
18 Her Not All Her | Elfriede Jelinek
George Carroll is an independent publishers representative for mostly academic and literary presses and is based in Seattle.