Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura

Quick follow-up to my post of upcoming releases:

Below is the cover of Nabokov's The Original of Laura according to Amazon.

I don't know who designed this but I can't imagine the stress they had to deal with the get this right. I think it works! I love the fading letters; we don't need to see the full name and title because we know exactly what it is and arguably have been waiting for this book for 30+ years. But what about those readers who don't know Nabokov? While I adore this cover, I can't imagine it does much for someone who is not familiar with the author or the work. What do you think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seattle's Chin Music Press

Whew—hopefully I’ll never have as long a gap between posts as this past one. Firstly I’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone who found their way over here from The Book Design Review. Hope you like what you see and stick around for a while.

I had two of my busiest weeks this year, both at home and at the bookstore. Not only did I just move apartments, but two weekends ago was Book Expo America at the Javits Center in Manhattan. I spent most of May prepping for BEA, as many of the major players at the company I work for flew into town for the fair. I was able to go to BEA on Sunday and walk the floor—it was remarkable how different the mood was this year as opposed to my last visit in 2007. This year was all business: many publishers that I was excited to see were locked into meetings and not especially receptive to casual walk-ups. In a convention center full of focused, business-minded publishers, those few small presses that put an obvious effort into expanding their readership (instead of just their accounts) stood out even more than they probably know.

I think we’re in good shape If Seattle’s Chin Music Press ( is any indication of the future of independent publishing. At this point they’ve got a small list of books but from where I stand they’re doing everything right.

Based in Seattle with strong ties in Tokyo, Chin Music calls themselves the “Antidote to the Kindle” and you can see why. All of their books are bound exquisitely and put together in a way that each book feels like a treasure from some rare book room. Some have full-color spreads, some have sewn-in ribbon place-holders. Goodbye Madame Butterfly, for instance, has some of the most beautiful endpapers I’ve ever seen.

And not only are these books incredible to own, they’re all great reads as well. Riding the crest of the US Japanese literature wave, Chin Music provides us with a modest and intelligent look at the arts and culture coming out of Japan. The aforementioned Goodbye Madame Butterfly is composed of intimate testimonials from women living today in Japan. Kuhaku is a collection of complex essays on Japanese life that break down any preconceptions you may have of what it’s like to live out there. As a fan of another Japanese press, Vertical, it’s great to see how another group can share a relatively similar mission and take it to task in a completely different manner.

Chin Music is certainly a publisher to keep an eye on. If you’re a fan of the Japanese lit that’s coming into the US but tired of publishers and their wacky, surreal attempts at finding another Haruki Murakami, Chin Music is the place for you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Murakami's new novel IQ84 to be released this week in Japan!

Murakami's new novel, IQ84, is due out this week in Japan. Very exciting news, as its been about five years since US readers have had a long-form Murakami Novel (Kafka on the Shore). In Japan, IQ84 will be released in two-volumes, each spanning just over 500 pages. I'm not sure how long this means an English version will be, but I'm looking forward to hearing details as they emerge. I've read that Murakami's novel is to be somehow related to 1984, as the letter "Q" in English is a homonym to the number 9 ("kyuu") in Japanese. Or so I'm told!

Below are the Japanese covers for each volume.

UPDATE: Just found this.