Saturday 25 October 2014

Small Publisher Specials #1: Readux

Being the first in a series of posts focusing on the splendid work of small publishers in this small-publisher-unfiendly age.


Readux is a small publisher in both senses of the word--they are a small Berlin-based outfit, but they also publish small (32, 48 or 64-page) books: novellas, short stories and essays, either in the original English or else translated from Swedish or German. These are not little stapled booklets, either: they're proper, perfect-bound books.

Usually published in batches of four, three times a year, each Readux series has a specific look, unified by the overall design of Susann Stefanizen.

Series 1 makes use of surrealistic illustrations by André Gottschalk, full of flat colour and strange elements.

Series 2, all Stefanizen's work, are more abstract, with coloured polygons on textured backdrops.

The most recent series, #3, uses delicate pencil sketches by Lisa Schweizer against worn paper backgrounds.

And then there's the imminent series 4, all eye-warping patterns and neon colours, designed by André Gottschalk and Susanne Stahl, based on their 'See Before Reading' system...

Returning to Susann Stefanizen, here are her beautifully simple geometrical designs for a series of German-published books on music...

Thursday 9 October 2014

Never Any End to Hemingway

The newest English translation of Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas's work is Never Any End to Paris, his thoroughly enjoyable and funny story of a Hemingway-obsessed young Spaniard trying to be a writer in 1970s Paris, with Marguerite Duras, of all people, as his landlady. Published by Harvill Secker, the cover illustration of the pretentious narrator and his hero at a cafe table is by Jörn Kaspuhl... 

..and it rather cleverly plays off the original dustjacket for Hemingway's own A Farewell to Arms

Some of Kaspuhl's more unsettling illustrations, which are derived from casual photos and show people turning into strange cross-species hybrids, were collected in his now sadly out-of-print Humanimal.

Tuesday 7 October 2014


It should come as no surprise that sometimes I buy a book because of its design. I'm not really a reader of horror, at least that published since the era of Machen/Dunsany/Lovecraft/James, so normally a book about a haunted Ikea-style store would have passed me by. But when the book is designed to emulate an actual Ikea catalogue? That's a different story.

Horrorstör, Grady Hendrix's first novel, is published by Quirk Books, and they've really gone to town on this one. Illustrated by Michael Rogalski and designed by Andie Reid, with cover photography by Christine Ferrara, the attention to detail is superb, with order forms, house ads, increasingly disturbing product showcases and more. The whole thing is even printed in the dark blue ink of an assemble-it-yourself instruction leaflet. Click any image below for embiggening...

Entertainingly, this very morning I was looking at a catalog of books coming out next year, and one of them--a home design guide--looks weirdly like Horrorstör, but with an airbrushed person added...