written by Charlotte
For some, a work break may be a cup of coffee, a walk through the park or a little nap on the office couch. But whenever I need a break, I take a stroll through the bookstore. It helps me relax and get inspired, sometimes add a book to my To Be Read list.
While my favorite sections at ABC Amsterdam are design, science and fiction, there is one feature that attracts my attention wherever I am in the store: great book design. I have always been fascinated by the making of books—from typography to paper quality to overall design—and yes, I’m one of those readers who judges a book by its cover.
That’s how I discovered McNally Editions, what its publisher describes as a “series of paperbacks devoted to hidden gems … printed on acid-free paper, with sewn bindings and sturdy, off-the-shoulder jackets.”
McNally Editions, which is the publishing arm of McNally Jackson bookstores in New York, believes that good books should last and be shared—and also beautiful. The Editions were launched in January 2022, and I find it interesting that our fiction buyer Reinoud discovered their catalogue through the same stunning book cover as I did.
That cover, which takes my breath away, is as simple as it is beautiful. A title (Something to Do with Paying Attention), author name (David Foster Wallace), on a darkish green book cover featuring a photo of a retro-style chair printed on a glossy book jacket. Very clean, very stylish.
I learned later that it was designed by Peter Mendelsund, once described by The New York Times as “one of the top designers at work today.” Mendelsund (who is also a musician, writer and painter!) not only designed the first six covers published by McNally Editions, but also its template, which is meant to unify the series’ books while also honoring and celebrating their uniqueness.