I don’t have a particular dog in the print-vs-eBook fight; I like print books and haven’t yet felt the need to buy an eReader, but I see the appeal of eBooks and am generally just glad that people are reading, no matter the format. However, I admit that a beautifully bound and illustrated book gets me excited in a way that an eBook, even with all the bells and whistles, can’t do.
So I was especially thrilled to find out that Madras Press, which is known for putting out small, quirky, high-quality books, is publishing a book by one of my favorite authors: an edition of Kelly Link‘s short story “Stone Animals,” from her 2005 collection Magic For Beginners. The books are individually bound with letterpressed covers (“Stone Animals” is available in brown or blue), but the real treat is between the covers.
“Stone Animals” features illustrations by a host of authors and artists, like children’s book illustrators Tao Nyeu and Lane Smith (who won a Caldecott Honor this year for Grandpa Green). Some are unexpected: Did you know that legendary sci-fi/fantasy writer Ursula K. LeGuin could also draw? The illustrations run the gamut from gorgeously odd (Audrey Niffenegger’s rabbit crouched, nose quivering, over a toothbrush) to, well, decidedly amateur (Arthur Phillips’ sad-faced toaster), but all of them add to the story’s off-kilter, unsettling mood. For fans of either Link’s stories, unusual artwork or literary treasures, “Stone Animals” is a rare treat.