What I did not mention yesterday in my review about Chris Dodd’s entertaining new book, Pieces of Eight, is the ‘book’ itself. What I mean by ‘book’ is not the content – which, again, is brilliant – it is instead how the book looks, its binding, format, cover, and lay-out. As an old book editor/ publisher, I am not only interested in the content of a book, I would like it to look nice, too. The publisher of Pieces of Eight is the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. It is, if I have counted correctly, the museum’s third published rowing book after Tom Weil’s Beauty and the Boats (2005) and Peter Mallory’s The Sport of Rowing (2011), and it is going to be interesting to see if there are any other books on rowing coming from the museum in the near future.
What I like with Dodd’s book is its format. It is a paperback, but it still has a book cover with flaps. The font is easy to read with a good lay-out. However, while I demand an index in a book like this, the index in Pieces of Eight is almost impossible to read despite my new reading spectacles.
But what I really love is the cover – ‘The Eight’ from 1930 by the British artist Cyril Power (1872-1951). According to material from the auction house Bonhams in London, which rowing historian Tom Weil has forwarded to me, Bonhams writes that “‘The Eight’ shows a racing crew during trials for the Head of the River on the Thames. Power drew it looking down on the boat from Hammersmith Bridge. With its dramatic sense of energy, ‘The Eight’ is one of Power’s most sought after works and the print was in excellent condition.” The ‘print’ mentioned in the text from Bonhams was sold by them last July for £59,520! Read more here. According to Weil only 50 copies were printed of Power’s ‘The Eight’. So, if you have a copy of this print laying about, dust it off and run immediately over to the nearest Bonhams office.
Looking at the website of the publishing company Shire Library, it seems that they are also going to use ‘The Eight’ for one of their books which is coming out this summer. Writer, historian, and rower Julie Summers’s book Rowing in Britain has it on its cover. Read more about Summers’s book here, and read her Newsletter about the book here. A little confusing is that Shire Library’s distributor in the USA, Random House, is showing a completely different cover for the book on their site. That looks nice, too, though…*
*Here is an update regarding the cover of Summers’s book: it will not be the same as the one on the cover of Dodd’s book, however, at this point of time, there are no certainties that it will be the one that Random House has on their site either. (Updated 9 May, 2012)