Publisher's Catalogue As Work of Art

Sales rep George Carroll reports on one publisher's surprisingly beautiful new publication: 

Naveen Kishore of Seagull Books, which has headquarters in Calcutta, India, and is distributed by the University of Chicago Press, is a contrarian. As ever more publishers rush to create digital seasonal catalogues to replace the paper variety, Kishore is showcasing his forthcoming list in a 412-page, clothbound, gilt-edged, full-color catalogue-tome.

At its core, the catalogue announces 42 new titles, 24 for spring 2012 release, a range of fiction and nonfiction from around the world. But that's just the skeleton of this opus. In homage to the forthcoming The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories by Ivan Vladislavic, the catalogue has the theme of loss and includes contributions by authors, editors, translators, publishers and booksellers, all of which are illustrated by the talented designer Sunandini Banerjee.

Among the highlights in the catalogue: Hans Magnus Enzenberger's poem "Notice of Loss"; a 10-page graphic representation of loss by illustrator Martin Rowson; a short story by Stephen Moorehead of Third Place Books in Ravenna; a letter from Benedict Anderson; a piece by Teresa Fagan on the loss between an original text and a translator's rendering; and, most appropriately, Elliott Bay Book Company's Rick Simonson on the loss of the printed catalogue. Other contributors include Rukun Advani of Permanent Black, New Directions' Barbara Epler, OR Books' Colin Robinson, Gerry Donaghy of Powell's Books, and authors Urs Widmer, Dorothee Elmiger, Inka Parei and Sherko Fatah.

The Seagull catalogue has a somewhat limited printing, but there are many copies circulating. Rather than being tossed in the recycle bin or deleted with a keystroke, the catalogue will likely take its place alongside books on shelves, on bedside tables and be  passed from reader to reader.

The printed catalogue is dead. Long live the printed catalogue!

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