Publishers are putting more thought into books' aesthetics. Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times
By JULIE BOSMAN
Even as more readers switch to the convenience of e-books, publishers are giving old-fashioned print books a makeover.
Many new releases have design elements usually reserved for special occasions — deckle edges, colored endpapers, high-quality paper and exquisite jackets that push the creative boundaries of bookmaking. If e-books are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading.
“When people do beautiful books, they’re noticed more,” said Robert S. Miller, the publisher of Workman Publishing. “It’s like sending a thank-you note written on nice paper when we’re in an era of e-mail correspondence.”
The eagerly anticipated 925-page novel by Haruki Murakami, “1Q84,” arrived in bookstores in October wrapped in a translucent jacket with the arresting gaze of a young woman peering through. A new novel by Stephen King about the Kennedy assassination, “11/22/63,” has an intricate book jacket and, unusual for fiction, photographs inside. The paperback edition of Jay-Z’s memoir “Decoded” features a shiny gold Rorschach on the cover, and in March the front of “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller will bear an embossed helmet sculpted with punctures, cracks and texture, giving the image a 3-D effect.
Publishers in recent years have had a frugal attitude about so-called special effects, but that attitude has begun to shift, said Julie Grau, senior vice president and publisher of Spiegel & Grau, part of Random House.
“We’re rethinking the value in certain cases of special effects and higher production standards,” Ms. Grau said, citing “Decoded.”
“Now in some cases, creating a more beautiful hardcover or paperback object is warranted.”