Ah, Christmas! The period when an art and design publisher’s fancy turns to its big guns: collector’s editions. This year sees a greater-than-usual number as not only are publishers producing collector’s editions, they are bringing out varying degrees of special, limited and ‘private view’ editions, often chopping and changing content, and throwing in a few extras for what is essentially the same book.
Cynical? Perhaps. Yet the trend does open up a wealth of opportunities for art collectors, film buffs and fashionistas. Take Elliott Erwitt XXL (teNeues), an oversize (15 x 21in) retrospective of the Paris-born, US-raised photographer whose iconic images include Marilyn Monroe in that white dress under the subway grate. teNeues has two collector’s editions ($2,500) limited to 250 copies each, one accompanied by the print Paris, 1989, the other with The Misfits, Reno, Nevada, 1961 (from the set of the Monroe/Clark Gable film) both signed by Erwitt. The special edition ($980) has a run of 1,500 copies and is also signed, yet sans print.
Similarly, there are two collector’s editions of influential documentary photographer Danny Lyon’s Memories of Myself (Phaidon). One comes with the print Three Young Men 1965 ($1,500), the other Inside Kathy’s Apartment 1965 ($1,750), while the normal edition is also available for £90.
Taschen has the mother lode of collector’s editions this autumn, topped by Valerie Steele’s Fashion Designers A-Z (£250). All six editions of the book are limited to 2,000 copies with covers bound in fabric, each designed by a different fashion house, including Stella McCartney, Prada and Missoni. The collector’s edition of Alfred Wertheimer’s Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll (£450), up-close-and-personal photographs of the King as he burst on the scene in 1956, is limited to 1,956 copies (see what they did there?), while the two 250-run ‘art editions’ (£1,000) include a signed print. Collector and two differing art-edition formats are also being used for photographer Ellen von Unwerth’s “erotic fairy tale” The Story of Olga (£450/£1,000). Nobuyoshi Araki’s BDSM-themed photo essay Bondage (£2,250) is being released in three art editions of only 50 copies each, all of which come, ahem, “enticingly hand-bound” in wooden boxes with signed Araki prints.
But what about the kids? Given the rough-and-tumble way children handle books, it is unsurprising that there are only a few beautiful art books made specifically for them, but it is a growing market. Sara Fanelli’s activity book The Onion’s Great Escape (Phaidon, $24.95) actually urges children to be rough with it: they are meant to tear perforated lines in the pages after completing tasks and, at the end, the spine becomes onion-shaped. Similarly, Hervé Tullet’s The Game of Sculpture (Phaidon, $12.95) has an interactive element, with kids encouraged to pull bits out and create their own works of art.
Along with his mentor Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart has brought pop-up books out of their cutesy ghetto and into the design mainstream. His latest, timely in the wake of George Lucas selling Lucasfilm to Disney, is Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure (Orchard, $36.99). It might, however, be best to keep the $300 signed, limited edition away from the kids.
A trend in cookery books in the past few years is the ‘backstage pass’ to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world. Sparked by Ferran Adrià’s A Day at elBulli (Phaidon) — a look at Adrià’s sadly now shuttered cantina cum molecular gastronomy lab, which topped poll after poll of the world’s best restaurants in the noughties — these books do contain recipes but are more about culinary theory and beautiful photography.
Fäviken Magasinet is perhaps the most exclusive restaurant in the world — it is located in a remote farmhouse 600km north of Stockholm and seats only 12 diners a night. In Fäviken (Phaidon, $49.95), 28-year-old chef Magnus Nilsson spells out his philosophy — he is a traditionalist, the antithesis to the Adrià/Heston Blumenthal gastro-wizardry movement, and all the food is harvested and hunted within the vicinity of the farm — you’ll soon understand why foodies make the trek to near the Arctic Circle to sample diced beef heart and duck-egg liqueur.
Sat Bains’ Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian (Face, £75) is the début from one of Britain’s rising superstar chefs who has managed, like Nilsson, to set his double Michelin-starred restaurant in a culinary wilderness: Nottingham. Bains’ cooking at his titular restaurant is more on the Blumenthal end of the spectrum — indeed, the introduction is from the Fat Duck proprietor. One copy of the signed limited-edition book — available only through Face’s website, and foodie bookshops Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York and Books for Cooks in Melbourne — has a Willy Wonka-esque ‘golden ticket’, entitling the winner to a free meal and overnight stay at Restaurant Sat Bains.
Other beautifully illustrated food and drinks include Madalene Bonvini-Hamel’s The British Larder (Absolute Press, £25) with recipes from her Suffolk restaurant of the same name; wine expert Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties (Ecco, £120), a monumental and lavish essential for oenophiles; and Financial Times critic and former L’Escargot owner Nicholas Lander’s The Art of the Restaurateur (Phaidon, £49.95), a wonderfully gossipy look at the backstage battles and kitchen feuds of some of the world’s best eateries.