This week has been another busy one. After a whirlwind trip to Ronnie Scott’s London, Brussels & Maastricht at the weekend, I’ve been trying to catch up on sleep – but with so much going on, even that has been a trial! I was devastated when severe train delays meant that I was prevented from attending the #Station11 launch party, so I’m afraid I have no post for you there. BUT last night I was able to make it into London for the Unbound & Canongate launch party for LISTS OF NOTE. A beautiful book that I desperately want to own in physical format – it’s gorgeous! But with only digital copies available for review and the pennies in my pocket few and far between at the moment, I was only able to gaze at it lovingly. Unfortunately, Perks has been poorly this week so she was unable to make it but luckily my boyfriend took up the mantle and accompanied me to The Groucho Club in Soho. The following post will be on Book2Book this morning but here’s your priority access, exclusive to Franny & Perks readers! Enjoy…
Unbound has gone from strength to strength since it was founded in 2010 by Justin Pollard, John Mitchinson and Dan Kieran, and its alternative publishing model is certainly not one to knock. Based on the crowdfunding principles as proven successful on sites such as Kickstarter, this publishing firm guarantees an audience before the book is printed. In fact, its audience funds all production costs and even events. Where its traditional counterparts debate over the necessity of a launch, Unbound delivers a party for ALL successfully published authors (unless they don’t wish for one – but who turns down a free party these days?), and this launch made the third of the week. Impressive.
Last night saw even greater cause for celebration as Shaun Usher, Unbound, Canongate and friends celebrated the eagerly awaited follow-up to bestselling LETTERS OF NOTE. What was, essentially, a collection of letters took the reading public by storm last year as it reached number one on Amazon, sold 80,000 copies in UK bookshops alone, is predicted to sell 200,000 worldwide by the end of the year and rights sold in 18 countries. The time devoted to compiling a series of letters that were entertaining, intriguing and at times deeply moving, stole the hearts of readers across the world and would have inspired any businessman to recognise a ready market for a sequel.
Indeed, in his introduction to LISTS OF NOTE, Usher admitted that this was a much easier collection to compile with many of these lists garnered from his original research for LETTERS. Nevertheless, glass of vodka in hand (from a bottle gifted with the name ‘Legend of Kremlin’ and promised to be broken by John Mitchinson only in the event of an equally successful book) Shaun conceded that this was another intense process but I have no doubt that it will be worth the effort. LISTS OF NOTE has already been selected as Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month with numbers in the tens of thousands being batted between Unbound and Canongate members predicting first week sales.
As for the launch itself, the Gennaro Room at The Groucho Club was filled to capacity – drinks and the rare canapé were weaved around animated groups whilst money was frequently changing hands to secure a copy of LETTERS (£25) and LISTS (£30). As an owner of the kindle editions, I have to say that the true success of these collections is in the physical editions – these are beautifully crafted books, expertly curated by Usher, elegantly designed and the obvious choice for coffee tables worldwide. Readings from Usher included (it only seems natural to list):
- Richmond Golf Club, Surrey: Wartime rules
- Alternative lines to Gone with the Wind’s ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’
- Albert Einstein’s conditions of marriage for his wife
- Ford Car names devised by Marianne Moore
- Things not to do for women cyclists in Chicago
- Edmund Wilsons’ list of words related to being drunk
All were heartily received by the crowd and captured the wonderful diversity of the collection. Lists went beyond the book too with black postcards circulating the room for guests to fill in and photograph to share on Twitter and Instagram. Subjects included:
- Five things I wish I’d been told
- Five things I should do tomorrow
- Five things on my bucket list
For a relatively minimalist launch, the evening was undoubtedly a success for Unbound and Canongate – the former with even more cause to celebrate in light of the recent news that its Man Booker longlisted title, THE WAKE, also making the Goldsmith’s Prize shortlist. This is a company that can move only on to more innovative and exciting projects and the question resonating in my mind as we left Groucho’s was, what will Unbound do next? I, for one, am excited to find out.