Treasure tomes

In the increasingly digital world of the book, a beautifully bound publication is something to cherish. With numerous electronic book readers being launched, the pleasure of the book as object is in danger of disappearing. So producing books that are desirable to the touch is more important than ever, argue some publishers. Charity book publisher Oak Tree Fine Press has pulled out all the stops to produce a new Philip Pullman-illustrated book to raise money for children’s HIV/Aids charities. In a print run of 265 copies, AOutrance features a chapter from Pullman’s Northern Lights centering on bear-king Iorek Byrnison, and is illustrated with original woodcuts by British artists Andy English, Chris Daunt and Harry Brockway. The book comes in three editions, including 15 Ruscombe hand-printed letterpress versions, for which Oak Tree commissioned bookbinders to produce individual designs. Those include Follow Me by Finland’s Terhi Hursti, and A Chink in the Armour by the UK’s Chris Hicks. Hicks was inspired to design his binding in harmony with the wood engravings, developing a simple cover in white deerskin with onlays in morocco and tooling in silver. Mark Cockram’s Claude includes an illustration derived from one of the woodcuts and evokes the idea of Byrnison’s past richness in the hand-constructed approach. Other materials and processes include 24ct gold leaf, hand-pared leather and hand-stencilled end papers. All designs invite the owner to marvel and caress – and treasure the physical book. They will be on show at Oxford’s Bodleian library next week, before going to their new owners. Surely, no e-reader can beat that.

The Ruscombe editions of A Outrance will be on show at the Bodleian Library, Broad Street, Oxford from 15-18 December and sold through a silent auction online. All editions can be bought at www.oaktreefinepress.combefore going to their new owners. Surely, no e-reader can beat that.

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