|The Complete Works of Virginia Woolf - book cover. Image source: Mobileread.
When we think of books as a labour of love, I suspect ebooks aren’t the first things that spring to mind, perhaps a beautifully bound manuscript might be more apt, or something personalised in some way, or an example of excellent design. Ebooks have more of a cold, utilitarian connotation - they are after all devoid of so many elements we fetishise in paper books (the smell, the touch, the familiarity etc.)
|Picture of Dorian Gray Interior
|The Picture of Dorian Gray Cover
The Complete Virginia Woolf has a cover that breaks from traditional convention (its restrained design and subdued colours compliment the text, without being showy or eye-catching) and uses Vanessa Bell's original woodcut cover designs to mark each individual work that comprises the collection. Instead of being merely a 9,500 page book, the use of Bell's imagery nicely packages the works, differentiating them from one another. Connecting Virginia's writing with the images that her sister conceived to accompany them, gives history to the collection, tying it to its original production.
|Mrs. Dalloway section of the Complete Works.
|Original Hogarth Press cover design by Vanessa Bell
Graham Rawle is a fascinating artist whose books often layer found imagery to build up a new story or give a certain depth or feeling to an existing one. The Complete Works of Virginia Woolf is a work in constant revision and as such also gains a certain gravity the more texts are added, or the further existing texts are revised or the design improved upon.
|Pages from Rawle's Woman's World, 2005
|Pages from Rawle's edition of The Wizard of Oz, 2008
|Penguin Great Ideas Vol. 1 - spines
|Penguin Great Ideas Vol. 1 - cover
One of the pleasures of The Complete Works is the crispness of design - typographic conventions are shared across the 30+ volumes that make up the collection and design is unified right across the 9,500 pages. In a world where even the big publishers can't always get formatting consistent (in a hard-back edition of Mrs. Dalloway I own the text is printed differently on alternate pages, making for a jarring experience and the references that accompany the text contain obvious errors), the ease of reading The Complete Works is refreshing.
Why not pop along to Mobileread and get your copy now? Remember to keep checking back for revisions.