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How to get your favourite book on your wall; 5 questions for Carl Pappenheim of Spineless Classics [INTERVIEW]

Spineless Classics have hit on a novel concept that’s sure to turn book-worms into an art lovers: you  choose a book from their list of titles, and they take the text and arrange it on a single page design. From a distance they look beautiful; when up close they are legible. Carl Pappenheim is the brains behind this idea, so we thought we’d find out more..
 

Everyone is talking about digital reading; why did you decide to go down the posters route?

I actually came up with the idea in about 2003, a while before e-readers were widely available.  Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would actually buy one until much later and I wonder if I wasn’t, accidentally, correct.  We now live in an age of unprecedented miniaturised convenience but I think we’re beginning to miss having to pick things up and keep them on a shelf.  Vinyl records are actually doing really well recently despite being hilariously Click here for a cool 20% off voucher for BookMachine readers (on selected lines). clunky compared to the fifty trillion songs available at the touch of a pixel on my cellphone.  Likewise, if you read a book on your Kindle and want to be reminded of it occasionally, you can’t put the digital receipt on a shelf.  People want to have the art they’ve enjoyed around them and Spineless prints are a great way to do that with books.

 

Which are the most popular books you’ve worked with?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been great for us, as has Pride and Prejudice, despite its healthy dimensions.  I’m not allowed to tell you how much money it’s raised for Great Ormond Street but I’m very happy to say Peter Pan is also up there.

 

I’ve noticed that your posters are for sale on the Urban Outfitters Website. Has this been a successful partnership so far?

Urban Outfitters are a huge company but that doesn’t mean they aren’t averse to taking a gamble on a cool new idea. They were our second ever trade customer back in 2010 and have just placed their largest order to date, expanding the range they stock. So yes, it’s working for both of us. We just launched in the USA and it was great to be able to quote one retailer that people have heard of. Selfridge’s may be an icon in London but nobody knows them in Nevada.

 

What would you recommend to any budding publishing entrepreneurs who would also like to try something different?

Don’t get too starry-eyed about big players; never think you’re too small to sign a deal and, if they’re signing up with you, remember it’s because they stand to gain something which is valuable so don’t bend over too much. Oh, and don’t trust anyone in manufacturing unless you already know them personally. We just happened across a mailing tube company in the USA who decided to charge us extra for the end-caps. Jokers!

 

So, what’s next after Spineless Classics? Any digital-based reading plans?

My previous job was as a web developer (not that you’d know from the site) so I’m often tinkering from bits and pieces of a technical nature. I’ve finally managed to put up a version of an online viewer which works off the Google Maps engine; you can try it out here:

http://www.spinelessclassics.com/viewer.php

Does that count? The designs are really not designed to be ‘read’ from start to finish to be honest; it’s more of an artistic experience. I understand that some people have to find everything utilitarian so, with that thought, I’ll leave the final word to a guy who passed by our stand at the Ideal Home Show last year.

“No fanks mate,” he called out as he motored past. “I’ve got a Kindle.”

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Laura Summers

Laura Summers

Co-founder of @bookmachine - the network for forward-thinking #publishing folks; and BookMachine Works - the fresh new creative agency for publishers

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