Apo­lo­gies for the length of this our inaug­ur­al blog post—it will not be typ­ic­al! The five-year exper­i­ment that has been Lode­star Books has reached a water­shed lately, with the adop­tion of a new look and feel for most of our out­put. By mov­ing from short-run digit­al print­ing to longer runs prin­ted ‘litho’ in a robust soft­cov­er format we are now more trade-friendly and more afford­able than ever, and we hope more addict­ive with it. And with the expert­ise and enthu­si­asm of our new UK trade reps Sig­na­ture Books we expect you’ll be see­ing us in dis­cern­ing book­shops from now on; that is where good books should be dis­covered and bought, we fer­vently believe.

In a world of increas­ingly ‘com­mod­it­ized con­tent’ sold online, some­thing is being lost—namely the valid­ity of the phys­ic­al book as a cul­tur­al arte­fact, and of the well-cur­ated and know­ledge-rich inde­pend­ent book­shop as the place to prop­erly browse and dis­cov­er books which, online, you might never know exis­ted. “Read­ers who bought this also bought that” and “You might also like…” are undoubtedly use­ful to pub­lish­er, vendor and read­er, but they are mech­an­isms for tramelling the reader’s mind, not broad­en­ing it. It’s dif­fi­cult to con­vey on a web­site the look and feel of our books when in the hand, and we will try harder to do so visu­ally, but for now let these words make the attempt:

  • It’s a tall order to find a typeface which can handle the full spec­trum of our out­put, but a neces­sary one if our list is to expand and pro­duc­tion be sim­pli­fied. After a great deal of research we found our solu­tion in a quite unex­pec­ted quarter. Mat­thew But­t­er­ick is trained as both typo­graph­er and law­yer, and his Equity typeface, designed for legal doc­u­ments, com­bines exactly the qual­it­ies of author­ity, read­ab­il­ity and mod­esty we were after, and we’re sure its adop­tion in books will increase.
  • Words are best read on an uncoated ‘book­wove’ paper, not too bright white, with a pleas­ing degree of ‘tooth’ (jar­gon for ‘rough­ness’) to it; our Munken paper fits the bill per­fectly, and also takes mono­chrome illus­tra­tion and cer­tain kinds of col­our extremely well. Col­our pho­tos requir­ing pin-sharp repro­duc­tion go into plate sec­tions.
  • A true sewn bind­ing means the book is easy to open wide enough to appre­ci­ate the full-page or even double-page pic­tures we can now run, with no danger of pages fall­ing out.
  • Our flapped cov­ers are stiff­ish card, with matt lam­in­a­tion, and com­bine robust­ness with a very classy first impres­sion and a great feel in the hand.
  • And at risk of a des­cent into out­right fet­ish­ism, our move away from digit­al to litho print­ing gains us that heady aroma of printer’s ink as the new book is opened.

Of course we will strive to ensure that our choice of mater­i­al to pub­lish remains entirely worthy of this treat­ment, and so to cre­ate an alto­geth­er unex­pec­ted exper­i­ence in books cost­ing, for the most part, just £12. We will do all we can to sup­port book­shops in car­ry­ing our titles; if they are not in stock at your nearest shop, they can gen­er­ally be obtained for you in a day or two. Please sup­port them if you can and help main­tain their con­tri­bu­tion to our cul­ture; but if geo­graphy works against you, you can order online from our web­site. If you read this far, thank you—our future posts will be short­er, and light­er, than this one!

Photo: Dawn on the Gulf of Maine, en route from Marble­head to Brook­lin on Sea Har­mony, August 2010