The “Cloud Atlas” flipback I ordered from England arrived recently, and it was totally worth the wait.
Even better, some complimentary copies from Arthur van Keulen, international marketing manager of Jongbloed BV, appeared on my doorstep this past Friday.
What joy! And I’m ready to share.
Today’s the first chance to win a flipback copy of Chris Cleave’s “The Other Hand,” courtesy of Arthur and Jongbloed BV, the Dutch company that created this innovative pocket-sized format.
All you have to do is comment on this post by 5 p.m. Friday, West Coast time. Everybody gets one entry this time. Feel free to leave more than one response, but I’ll disregard all but your first one in picking a winner (using Random.org’s number generator). And if you don’t win, I’ll run the next giveaway in a few weeks, so keep checking back.
Now let me rave about “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. I’m really enjoying the story, and I’m definitely going to seek out everything else Mitchell has written–but that’s not the point of this particular post. I want to talk about the flipback book-as-art and what it’s like to hold, admire and read one. After all these months of posting about flipbacks, I’m thrilled to share some first-hand details.
I’m surprised about:
- How vibrant and gorgeous the “Cloud Atlas” cover art is. I wonder if the illustration was designed specifically for flipback format, or if it’s a miniaturization of a previous version of the novel. The details are exquisite. They’re definitely in proportion to the size of the object. I’d rate this book as having a very high elegance factor. The cover definitely made me want to dive in and start reading “Cloud Atlas.” Which I did.
How thin and small it is. Remember the only flipback I’ve seen personally, until now, was the Cambridge University Press Transetto Bible, which, understandably, is thicker at 1,080 pages. “Cloud Atlas” is 853 pages, not including acknowledgements and press quotes about Mitchell’s other works. And for the record, it’s quite a long book compared to some of the other novels published as flipbacks. “The Other Hand” ends at 560.
- The blurb on the back of “Cloud Atlas” fits perfectly with the size of the book. It’s closer to an elevator pitch summary than a traditional two or three-paragraph description. It begins with the phrase “Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies…” The actual blurb is two sentences: “Six interlocking lives–one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity’s will to power, and where it will lead us.”
- Besides that description, there’s still room on the back cover for three very short comments from British newspapers, some lovely blue birds, the barcode and a neat logo that features the flipback dog.
- The leading (the space between the lines) is tight, similar to the Transetto Bible and mass-market paperbacks (those smaller paperbacks). It’s still quite readable, though. And it appears that other flipbacks have looser leading, because they’re not as long as “Cloud Atlas,” which runs 528 pages in standard paperback.
The type is a smidge smaller than regular paperbacks, but it’s pretty close to normal size. Again, I think it’s smaller in “Cloud Atlas” because of the challenges of turning a long novel into pocket-sized form; some of the other flipbacks, like “The Other Hand,” appear to be normal-size type.
- While the paper is very white and the text is quite readable, I do see some shadows of the text bleeding through the thin pages. I initially wondered whether that would bother me, but when reading, I don’t notice the effect at all. It’s not a detriment, merely a noted curiosity.
- I need a bookmark. Usually I can flip through a novel and find my page quickly, but the thinness of the pages makes it hard to flick through without missing a page. Luckily, scrap paper works, or there’s such thing as a flipback bookmark, and Arthur sent me some to try. They’re like book jewelry! And here I thought flipbacks couldn’t get any more lovely.
- The pages are extremely durable. Whenever one gets wrinkled, it smooths out once I shut the book.
- I usually can tell how far along I am in a book, but flipbacks are such different formats, it’s hard to guess! I’ve read 100-some pages in “Cloud Atlas,” and I wonder how far I’d be in the regular version.
- Now this one totally amazes me. As someone who suffers from chronic wrist and hand pain, I don’t have to set the book down to read it like I do with paperbacks and hardcovers. I can hold “Cloud Atlas” pain-free with one hand, or if I want to put it in my lap, it stays open on that page without prompting. I’ve speculated before that flipbacks would be great for reading while knitting, nursing or exercising, and now I can add that they’re wildly helpful for people with arthritis and other hand ailments.
- There’s been a huge “wow” factor with the few people I’ve showed “Cloud Atlas” to so far. Everyone is curious and wants to play with it.
So remember, comment here by 5 p.m. Friday to be entered in the giveaway, so you too can carry around a tiny novel. I’ll post the winner here in the comments. And if you’ve missed my previous posts on these handy-dandy books, check out the flipback category in the sidebar and you’ll find all kinds of details and an interview with Arthur van Keulen.