An Exciting Year Ahead
Last year was Conversation Tree Press’ first official year, and we’re incredibly grateful for the support that helped to make it a resounding success. As I’ve mentioned before, the Press is my full time job, and being able to come to work every day and do what I love is truly a gift, so thank you.
There is a great deal on the go at the moment and I’m happy to share some of that with you, though many of the specific details will come at a later time.
Peter Pan Limited Edition
Work continues on all aspects of our limited edition of Peter Pan. With nine full colour plates and over twenty-five pen and ink drawings, there is a great deal of work for Charles, and good work takes time. Typesetting and artwork proofing, for both the colour plates and pen and ink drawings, continues. Colophon pages for each state, recording the details for each edition, will be printed next week and sent to Charles for signing.
Our Next Book
All of the artwork for our second book is complete, barring any additions we make during final typesetting. As I mentioned before, Marc Castelli and I collaborated very closely on this project, exchanging almost 400 emails in the space of four months at the end of last year. Many sketches were traded (his were way better than mine), ideas shared, layouts tested, and along the way I learnt a great deal of what life could be like so close to the water. I’m especially proud of the work that’s come out of our collaboration.
We’ll be using handmade paper from the Velké Losiny mill in The Czech Republic for the Lettered state, and this week they’re 3D printing our watermark and using it in the making of a few sheets to see how well it works.
This will be a much bigger book than Peter Pan, quarto-sized at 240mm x 340mm (9.5in x 13.4in). As always, a great deal of thought has been given to every aspect of each state, including the typefaces, the materials and the overall design.
After conducting tests and experimenting with different materials over the past six months, we’re thrilled to have settled on the way forward. We’re excited to start working on prototypes soon with the intention of shipping this one before the end of the year.
Weird., our collaboration with S.T. Joshi, continues to move forward. We’re exceedingly pleased to announce we’ve signed an agreement with one of weird fiction’s most prolific living authors and will be dedicating a volume to this work, which he will be signing. We’re in talks with another, from the opposite side of the Atlantic, and remain optimistic that rights can be acquired for the stories S.T. selected.
The decisions being made around the collection have to be carefully considered, knowing some aspects of the design will be consistent for all twenty volumes to be published over the course of the next decade. A great deal of work is required at the start to set us up for success in the future, work that will also reduce pre-production time on each volume after the first.
One of the first things we do when starting a project, and one of the most crucial, is selecting a typeface. Apart from simply affecting the readability and overall aesthetic of a design, a typeface conveys emotion, and should be well-suited to the text. As Robert Bringhurst said in his Elements of Typographic Style, a copy of which is always close at hand when I’m working on a layout, “well-chosen words deserve well-chosen letters.”
With this in mind, I’m happy to report that after a great deal of research and testing, we’ll be using Frederic Goudy’s Kennerley typeface for our collection of weird fiction. Designed specifically by one of America’s most popular and prolific type designers for a fine press edition of weird fiction by H.G. Wells, The Door in the Wall, we couldn’t think of a typeface more suitable.
We mentioned before that the binding would be uniform for all volumes. Upon further reflection, and after passionate feedback, we’ve decided that only the Standard state will have a uniform binding for every volume, with a design that looks great and works perfectly well across the entire collection. The Deluxe and Lettered states of each volume will be unique.
There’s another aspect to the design of the collection that we’re very excited about, and really ties it all together, but more on that later.
Acquiring rights for contemporary titles from the “big five” publishers requires both considerable time at the start and patience at the end. The first part involves tracking down which entity has the rights you need and which region(s) they have them for. Many books have their rights split with one publisher retaining rights to North America and another for Europe and the Commonwealth, while others are further split with Canada and US rights managed by different publishers.
I once sent an email to a publisher and received a reply three months later saying they didn’t have the rights I was looking for. Of course, it helps when you’re dealing with a person and not a generic mailbox, and we’ve made considerable progress creating those relationships with different houses, having invested considerable time since we started pursuing rights last summer. Sincere thanks to a couple of people who have helped with this.
If you’ve made it this far, we’ve saved the best news for last - two of our proposals have been accepted, both for books I have no doubt you’re familiar with. And this is where the patience part comes in—the paperwork can take months to arrive, and we’re not comfortable announcing anything until it’s official. So a bit more patience, but we’re looking forward to sharing more when the time is right.
That’s it for now. Thank you, as always, for your time and support.