Inside an ornate, hand-crafted birdcage and nestling on a bed of blue silk, rests a beautifully-bound book wrapped in luscious blue ribbon. It calls to me just as powerfully as any bird might.
I am in Assouline in London, where I have come to marvel at the assembled collection of mouthwateringly beautiful books. This particular caged volume is a limited-edition (there are only 50) of Flaubert’s novel Felicity – The Tale of the Simple Heart and it is the first of a series to be produced by Haute Culture Books.
Drawing from the work itself, here focusing on Flaubert’s parrot, the idea is deliver a classic piece of European literature in a new and innovative way – in this case transforming a book into a piece of collectable art.
The company – and the concept – is the brainchild of Luis de Miranda whose goal is to publish limited-edition, luxury books, using fine paper, hand-bound leather covers, real gold logos, and beautiful design.
By selling these he aims to distribute – for free – the same titles in e-book format. His mission, he says, is to use the growing digital market to democratize high culture.
Speaking to writer Aleksandra Arsenovic from Extravaganzi, Luis explains his desire to reinvent the physical book as a cult object.
“I aim to create unique objects that make the poetry of texts tangible,” he says. “As we all spend more time in front of screens, I believe that the experiential aspect of the printed book will become more important, with readers looking for a higher quality object.
“Our editions will embody my great respect for the ritual of reading and for the craftsmanship of book making, while at the same time subsidizing the free distribution of our e-books and building a new global audience for iconic European literary masters.”
It’s a lofty and laudable ambition but when we meet – by chance he happens to be visiting the shop – it is easy to see it will be a success. His passion and vibrancy are infectious and he clearly loves books. He is a natural communicator, engaging and interested.
His association with Assouline is a natural fit and their approach may well herald the new age of publishing.