Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Pantone Reference Library

Imagine buying some books in the store…
‘We’ll have two blue ones, a crimson and a nice soft yellow, please’
‘We only sell the crimson under the counter sir.’
‘Well can you wrap that separately.’
‘Certainly sir and could I interest you in this risque deep purple, or some iffy shades of grey’
Book spines have long offered designers an opportunity to add colour and even art to a wall. Hotels and interior designers have often bought books by the yard, not to read, but to ‘furnish’ a room, lobby and make a statement.
Whether it was the iconic Penguin paperback ‘pantone’ jackets of the Lane era, the leather bound law and medical books that gave a false rare book feel, or the uniform classics of Wordsworth, OUP, Everyman, the spines can offer more than just information, they offer decoration. We often all look at a private library shelf and find our eyes drawn to those neatly lined up collections that are not alphabetically stacked, but offer a ‘uniform’ look of colour.
Random House Canada now want to shout about the ‘beauty of books’ and are experimenting with readers classics with solid Pantone covers. Thirty titles have been selected for an exclusive Indigo offer and include Canadian stalwarts such as Margaret Atwood in purple, Michael Ondaatje in blue and Wayson Choy in orange. Random have attempted to align colours with the themes with darker shades for deep books and lighter shades for less serious tomes. They even price the pantone editions at a slight ‘collector’ premium.
Will the book attract designers, young aspiration professionals wishing to make a statement on their shelves and maybe the odd reader will be an interesting question. Unfortunately, even if the they sell well there remains the questions as to why they were bought and if they are to be read, or merely decorate yet another wall, or even to provide a literary collection?
The price variance can be some $5 with the pantone edition being some $17. But they do offer two for $24, but hardly prices to go out and buy the collection! Perhaps buyers are drawn to the potential rarity of such editions or maybe it is down to the block of colour.
So do you arrange your bookshelves by colour and would you expect to find books in a store based on the colour of the spine?

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