Attending BookExpo 2017 in New York City was a bibliophile’s paradise. There were author interviews, author signings, and writing and publishing workshops. Best of all, there were books – thousands and thousands of books! The entire lower level of New York’s Javits Center was set up with booths by every major and minor publishing house in the country. On display were the new titles planned for future release. Wandering the exhibition hall, I experienced a similar feeling of wonderment from childhood when I had gazed at bins of penny candy displayed at the local drug store. This was book candy. There was lots of it. Best of all, as a CultureHoney.com contributor, my press status enabled me access to all the conference had to offer!
I arrived at the exposition floor with a list of my favorite publishers with the goal of checking out their new titles. However, I was surprised to find that encountering publishers I had not previously been familiar with was a highlight of the convention. One of my discoveries was Applewood Books!
Applewood Books display booth drew me in like a magnet. It was tastefully arranged with an assortment of small gift books of approximately 4 1/2 by 7 inches. These included a series of short biographies of famous artists, a series focusing on classic American authors, a large assortment of traveler journals, and a collection of small coloring books.
Several features attracted me to these books. I appreciated the small size that easily fit into my hand. Each book had a limited number of pages that accommodated a contemporary audience whose full lives leave little time to read. Sparse volume in no way diminished the content.
For example, A Short Biography of John Singer Sargent by Carol Norcross provided a detailed chronology of the life of this accomplished American painter. In this volume, we are introduced to Sargent’s family and his unusual upbringing and education. Friends and other painters who impacted Sargent’s life and art are described. We also learn of the challenges and triumphs the artist faced throughout his career. This biography is well-written. The text is crisp, concise, and the narrative flows smoothly. The overview of the artist’s life is embellished with interesting facts printed boldly in the margins of each page.
I also appreciated the overall visual appeal of Applewood Books. These volumes are tastefully bound, attractively formatted, and enclosed within appealing covers. A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett is covered front and back in an aqua and white pattern resembling wallpaper from the era of its writing. A pen and ink drawing of a heron in the style of the pioneer book illustrator, Randolph Caldecott, is centered on the front cover and beautifully framed by the patterned background. This publisher appears to have followed the path of early book publishing tradition where books were intended to be objects of beauty as well as inspiration.
Among the three overflowing book bags I crated through New York’s subway that evening was a neat black slipcase enclosing three prize volumes from Applewood Books. These included a biography of Mary Cassett, A Short Biography of John Singer Sargent, and Sarah Orne Jewett’s jewel, A White Heron. The set sits proudly on my desk as a momento of BookExpo 2017. My pocket-sized copy of A Traveler’s Journal is already set aside for my fall excursion to Italy. Applewood Books are treasures to savor. They also make great gifts for the art-loving, book-loving, travel-loving people in your life.
Check out their catalog @ applewoodbooks.com!