Friday, January 19, 2007

Persephone Books

Have other people heard of Persephone Books--am I the only ignorant one? I read about them today for the first time, on this knitting blog that I read sometimes. Click on the link and look at the beautiful photographs. Aren't they wonderful? This blog post made me feel like everyone already knows about these books, but maybe it's just everyone in England.

For those of us who don't know, Persephone Books is an independent publisher of books by women, most of which were originally published earlier this century. They sell their books over the Web, and from their charming little shop in London. Their target audience is obviously women. The books are beautifully designed--here's what they say about their approach:

Our books look beautiful because we believe that, whether they are on an office desk, by the Aga, or hanging in a bag over the handles of a buggy, it is important to get pleasure from how they look and feel. With their distinctive plain grey jackets and cream 'labels' for the title wording, all our books look the same from the outside. Inside, each is different, with the endpapers chosen especially to match the date and mood of the book.

What love goes into the production of these books! And read the description of how they choose which books to publish.

I tried to find some of these titles in my library, and from online used booksellers, but most seem unavailable in the U.S. Interestingly, I found that a few titles (published by Persephone Books!) are available from my university library—luckily, I have borrowing privileges!

But how could I resist buying one? Which one? I finally settled on this one: Saplings, by Noel Streatfeild. I think I read Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes about twenty times between the ages of ten and fourteen, and I credit Streatfeild's books (along with the Mary Poppins series) for turning me into an anglophile at a young age. I didn't know Streatfeild wrote any books at all for adults, but now I have one to look forward to!

For a while I was considering buying this book, Plats du Jour, by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd. Don't you want a book by people named Patience and Primrose? But the university library has a 1957 Penguin version of this in the stacks, and maybe I'll start with that. Then I can save my money for the titles that I can't find elsewhere.

The books are reasonably priced: 10 pounds plus another 4.50 pounds for shipping to the U.S. What's that in dollars (and why doesn't Blogger give me a pound symbol?)? $25? I'll let you know as soon as it arrives.


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