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