Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pocket books

I have books on the mind this week.  So when I spotted my beloved Travelman Short Story set on the library shelf last night, I felt impelled to introduce you to what I consider to be the most ingenious packaging for literature I've ever come across (yes, that's quite a bit of hyperbole, but read on and judge for yourself.)

In a nutshell, a Travelman is a short story that folds like a map. They were published in England when we were living there and I immediately bought the entire set. Each tale is complete and unabridged, and the catalogue includes such authors as Graham Greene, Saki, Dorothy Parker, Evelyn Waugh, Roald Dahl and many more. 

Gorgeously designed with elegant, arresting illustrations, they pop right into your pocket or purse. Best of all, they never need to be entirely opened as they're designed to be read consecutively, page by page.  I used to read mine on the Tube during rush hour and I'm pleased to say I never once annoyed the person sitting next to me.  On the contrary, they were quite the conversation starter.

Each work of classic or modern fiction is printed on a single sheet of paper and is color-coded into genres like Comedy, Suspense, Classics and so on.  Click HERE for a full list of titles (go to"Authors A-Z" at the top of the page).  I just counted at least 12 I don't yet own so it looks like the obsessive-compulsive side of me is going to want to do some ordering.

Over the years, I've purchased several sets as gifts for friends and the reaction is always one of delight and amazement.  They're so adorable, so unique and so highly collectible that any book lover in your life would be thrilled to own one.

The "More, more, more!" pre-recession me wants to buy another box set just in case something happens to the first, but the new 2009 me is going to calm down, take a deep breath and take good care of the ones I have.


Laura said...

What a wonderful gift idea! I wish I'd known about this before Christmas...are they short stories as they were originally written or abridged versions of longer works?

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Laura, they're all complete short stories. Authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Saki, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Roald Dahl and more. I haven't read one I didn't love.

The brainchild of Alexander Waugh and William Trevor, they were invented because Trevor believed that while "short stories are written to stand alone, they very seldom do." The reader must approach them through the medium of a collection or anthology, where there is a danger of what Trevor calls " cancellation" -- one story nullifying the effect of the next. Waugh describes reading a volume of short stories "as rather like being at a party -- you're never sure you're talking to the most interesting person in the room."

Hence, the birth of the INDIVIDUALLY packaged Travelman Short Story!

hmstrjam said...

you know i've always loved the Nabokov short story entitled "A Russian Beauty". For some reason it stands out.

Michelle Parks McCourt said...

A lovely idea ad a great gift too.

Style Court said...

Brilliant. Thanks for enlightening me.

Laura said...

That is so fascinating! I totally agree about the dangers of the anthology...I have certainly been guilty of racing through several stories just to "get done" with them.

I actually have just thought of a dear friend who would really apprecite this concept, I'm buying this set for her immediately!

MIMILEE said...

Fabulous! Great gift idea....thanks for the enlightenment!

Susan's Snippets said...

Laura....what a great concept, taking up a lot less room on our bookshelves. I commute into Chicago five days a week, so I think these are for me!!

maybe three

Britt said...

Love these!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

I emailed Louise Cavanaugh, marketing director for Travelman, and she told me that they may begin issuing them in the States if they can find a fingers crossed. It would be nice to save on the UK shipping!


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