Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Dard’s Bird In A Cage… then last week, I came by The Wicked Go To Hell and fell in love with both of them…

So much that I went ahead and ordered these yesterday:

There’s something about these short novels that really works for me right now. I think they all clock in at around 120 pages and don’t take long to read really. Not that I struggle to read a thick novel at all, but perhaps there’s a time and a place for the shorter novel in my life whereas I’ve usually tended to dismiss them. I’ve got work lying all over the place - magazines, songs, book projects - and those things can be time consuming in the extreme but a day in which I don’t read is a day I failed to live my life properly.

Anyway, Pushkin Vertigo have a great collection of these hit n run length novels out on the market - they’ve all got great covers too and because they’re mostly all translations of foreign authors, they are far from run of the mill stylistically.

I’m finding a lot to love here.

As a little appendix to this, on the Pushkin website, they have a page about book design and how important it is. Damn… all publishers should host a page like that. Here’s an extract:

Book design means a lot more than making a book look good. It should be an appeal to (or, if you like, a seduction of) the prospective reader, a manifestation of the qualities of the writing, a primer of expectations. A book should feel right in the hand, and present itself, and its text, well to the eye. 

That means that the details matter: not only the cover design and illustrators, but the paper, the binding, the typeface inside, the positioning of the textblock and a dozen more details. 

So we work hard to get it right, with great book designers like David Pearson, Clare Skeats and Nathan Burton. And when we do get it right, each of our books should be a beautiful object you want to keep forever. And it should disappear completely as you read.

It might not be top of everybody’s list of important things when it comes to a book but you know… if you get it wrong, it can kick a book over the cliff into oblivion no matter how good the story is.

That last sentence though: it should disappear completely as you read - that’s genius.

Always judge a book by its cover. It’s a great indication about how much the people behind it care and believe in it.