Shelf Life: Faber Finds

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—Faber & Faber’s new series Faber Finds, which resurrects out-of-print books using print-on-demand technology, prints each copy one at a time, eliminating warehouse stock and allowing for an almost infinite list. John Seaton, the editor of the imprint, who was hired to find and add new titles to the series, says that he was immediately attracted to the idea of bringing forgotten authors and books to a new audience. The list, he adds, is “nothing if not catholic.” There are only three categories that he has forbidden from being included: celebrity tell-alls, porn, and chick lit.

Seaton points out that print-on-demand is a way of bringing authors back into the spotlight. Once a writer’s book has gone out of print, he says, “Their reputation is only going to go in one direction, isn’t it?”

The sheer quantity of titles (275 and growing) meant that it was impossible to design a new cover for each one. So Darren Wall, Faber’s then-senior designer, came up with the inspired notion of using generative design to unite the series. Marian Bantjes drew four different borders, one for each genre—fiction, non-fiction, arts, and children’s—while Karsten Schmidt created a custom program to produce a unique version of Bantjes’ flouishes for each title. Michael C. Place contributed a custom Bodoni-ish typeface, B-HMMND, (named after John Hammond, Jurassic Park’s theme-park founder), that was inspired by both the double fs that form Faber’s logo and Australian wrought iron filigree.

“I realized in the middle of the process that I was writing myself out of the equation,” says Wall, speaking of the machinery that automatically designs and prints each cover, but he shouldn’t worry—these books have an unmistakably human touch.