Most books are too long. They make a point and then pad it up with enough examples till it gets heavy enough to look booky. They end up over booked and under ideaed. Would you pay the same for a book that looked like a pamphlet? How long does it have to be before it shifts from essay to book? It is a little like going to a university formal dance and the gourmet food arrives but the portions are tiny. It may be much fancier food than the residence dining hall, but if it doesn't touch sides it isn't dinner. It's tapas.
Last night I was invited to a book launch at 'The Society Club' in London. I hadn't read the book and didn't even know the author's name. I went because a friend invited me. As an occupational hazard, I feel like an impostor if I haven't done my homework before going to something. You earn rights to other people's thoughts by having thoughts on your own. Don't ask a question till you have at least googled it. All that stuff. Turns out it wasn't a problem. The author read us the whole book. It took 15 minutes.
'Learning from George' by Adrian Hornsby
It was amazing. Adrian Hornsby recounted his time at Shakespeare & Company in Paris. After leaving the UK for a European experience and teaching English in Prague, he moved to Paris to be in a place where he felt a little more competent in the language (he didn't feel like learning Czech). He ended up with a character named George and a bunch of other misfits. I won't spoil the story.
The book is a Paravion Press production, 'We like books. Real books. Paper and ink. And we like letters. Real letters. Paper and ink also. Words, a story, from one person to another, sent from one place to another, arriving in the mail. A rare pleasure these days.' So this book is short enough and small enough to fit in an envelope. The front page is blank to write a little note. Then you put it in the mail.
I think this is a beautiful idea. I got a few extra. If you would like one send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are less than four of you, I will send you one from Gipsy Hill, London. I will write something in it. With a pen. Then I will put a stamp on it. It will then start its journey from me to you. It will take a while. Once you have read it, perhaps you can send it to someone else?
I am fascinated by a world of full transparency and no transaction costs. Especially in the areas that don't matter and don't add value. Sometimes though, I do think a little mystery, a little personalisation and the investment of a little time adds a sprinkle of magic that makes life taste better. Little can be better.
Thanks Adrian for your little book.