The Dust Jacket at the Billionaire Birthday Party

by Emma Christine Hall

I’m an old soul. I suffer from an unusually large list of symptoms. It wasn’t long after meeting that Kevin and I realised we shared this diagnosis (I only slightly worse due to love for obscure B&W films). Our case of nostalgia is only exacerbated by our having been raised by authors, editors, artists and book lovers.

If you come to our office you will see:

  1. An unusually large collection of vinyl, accompanied by Kevin’s pride and joy: his Bang & Olufsen record player.
  2. Typewriters. Plural.
  3. Film cameras and lenses outnumbering digital ones.
  4. A beautiful collection of hardbound books. Some first edition, and many letterpress.
  5. An assortment of other artifacts, including a hand-built wooden pirate ship, and a chaise lounge fit for Anna O.

When Kevin first started working as the Creative Director for a publisher, we would speak about limitations to the future of book design. The publishers were dedicated and hardworking, the books were beautifully designed, the authors behind them were interesting and talented, but they weren’t getting much traction.

As a book lover myself I often thought about this. People might be reading more digital copies, but even then books would still be selling. When I thought about how I purchase books, however, the explanation seemed too simple. If most of the people purchasing books were like me, their preference wouldn’t be for the new book that had never been touched, and was printed the moment they clicked to order it on Amazon. They would prefer to reuse a book. Because it is cheaper. Because it’s sustainable. Because it smells so damn good. When you dig a book out from the bottom of the pile, after searching for what seems like forever, you make it yours. It’s difficult to recreate that experience.

One of the first dates Kevin ever took me on was an experience I like to refer to as “The Billionaire Birthday Party.” The publisher Kevin was working for at the time was housed under one of the most successful venture capital firms outside of Silicon Valley. Working for and with extremely successful individuals transformed experiences like birthday parties and after hours work outings into much more extravagant affairs than I had ever anticipated attending. When Kevin’s team was invited to “The Billionaire Birthday Party” they were tasked with finding an appropriate gift to a person for whom money is no object. This dilemma, which historically has resulted in the creation of such classics as pizza and faberge eggs, lead the small, scrappy team to an elegant solution. It remains one of my favorites to this day, and per my insistence is one of the staples services provided by The Frontispiece.

Kevin designed a beautiful custom dust jacket to house a lovely hardbound collection of Robert Frost’s poetry, which, unable to find in a used book store, was supplied from his own collection,  mentioned in the contents of our office above. I remember the gift recipient chuckling as she was handed the package, saying warmly, “Let me guess, it’s a book.” I thought of the number of times I had said that same thing, and how this was not just any book. It read like a book, and felt like a book, and even smelled like dust and ink, but this book was different. It was uniquely hers, made so by a dust jacket designed for her and no one else. We have since recreated this idea for loved ones and friends with similar success, every recipient anticipating a traditional, thoughtful gift, and receiving something exceptional.

We are proud to share this concept that marries the nostalgia of a well-loved book with the protection and personalization of a custom jacket design, through our “Personalized Cover Jacket” feature at The Store. I invite you to surprise a book lover or beloved book with a contemporary design to reinvigorate an old classic.