Some weeks ago we shared our impressions from Frankfurt Book Fair with you. Frankfurt is, however, not the only book fair, there are many all over the globe from Moscow to Paris and New York. A man who knows them all is our latest interview guest, Alessandro Nardelli. He has been working in the paper industry since many years and is a real book aficionado. We met him in Frankfurt and talked with him about his passion for books, current trends in book design as well as his view on e-books.
Can you briefly introduce yourself ?
My name is Alessandro Nardelli and I work for Lecta Group where I am in charge of all products as well as publishing backselling in the CEE region. Because of this, I usually attend the most important international book fairs, from Frankfurt, where we traditionally hold a booth, to London, Paris, NY, Goeteborg, Moscow, and some regional fairs as for example Krakow.
How was this year’s Frankfurter Buchmesse ? What is your impression ?
For us Frankfurt was so good that we had a new visitor record at our booth. Moreover more than 100 guests – from publishing and printing houses to photographers and creatives – attended our Thursday party, giving us the possibility to use this time for networking more than specific commercial discussions.
Generally, the fair was in my opinion, a little bit smaller in terms of people attending – either there were less visitors or visitors attended the fair for less days. However, at the same time I had the impression that people were more focused on the core of the discussions. The time of social meetings is in my mind over, we discuss more and more about the terms of possible cooperation. I think it is important to attend fairs like this, because it gives us the possibility to spot trends and get ideas on how and where to make the right investments.
What are you currently reading ? What is your favorite book ?
I very much like the style of Dan Brown, I read all his books. His books are thrillers, which catch the attention of the reader, but at the same time the reader also learns about the historical background of the thriller. Lately I have been reading books talking about Firenze, the Medici, Caravaggio, Nerone, and so on – always turned somehow into a thriller scenario. The only must is that the book is on paper. I have an e-book as well, but it is not the same as reading the book on paper.
Which trends do you see in book design ?
Let’s put it like that: book design is different in accordance with the different book segments. Talking about our specific segment of illustrated books, I clearly saw in Scandinavia as well as in Frankfurt, a continuous trend in the direction of good print quality as well as good natural (rough) touch. For the past three years we have been working on a paper which can fulfill both of these elements without sacrificing the one for the other.
Who is your favorite book designers ?
This is a difficult question, I love the way Taschen and teNeues are publishing their books, always modern even if they publish traditional concepts.
Can e-books replace paper books ?
Maybe in the long run. Travel books as cookbooks are already under attack by new media, this is clear. However, you still encounter many tourists with Loneley Planets in the big cities, less with an iPad.
In any case, I will be already in pension when, or better, if it will happen. As of today I perceive the e-book more as a “must have”, a trend item for our generation rather than a possible competitor of traditional books. I often travel by plane, and the number of people reading e-books is quite limited. However, seeing the way my children utilize the new media (I have three, Enrico is 13, Andrea 10 and the princess Francesca 5), I must admit, makes me feel quite old. So, it may be that the replacement will take less time, but.….let’s wait for the next question.
E-books vs paper books: which is greener ?
I can tell you that the paper business, if well managed (there certifications proving the correct sourcing, as FSC and PEFC), can be compared to other agricultural harvests. But why are people claiming if we cut a tree and not if we cut the salad for our lunch? In reality, there is no difference, the important thing is that we care about replantation.
I think that wood is the only raw material which can be renewed (oil will be finished sooner or later as well glass and minerals) and I am convinced that it will be utilized more and more in the future for different purposes – from the building to the furniture industry as well the printing industry.
The e-book seems to be cheaper at the beginning, but the costs of an e-book are not much different from a book made of paper (the major cost are the rights to the author). You have to consider not only the initial cost, but also the energy needed, and as well the possibility that you will soon need a new version (typical for the computer industry). Without considering that a computer could be taken, if you use it on the beach (who steals a book on paper?), there could be a virus that cancels your library and you could be out of battery when you start to understand who was the killer in the thriller…Seriously speaking, there are a lot of disadvantages to the e-book, the only advantage I see is that you need a small place to store a lot of books – even if a nice library in your living room could be part of the style of your house…
Can you recommend to our readers some of your favorite book stores ?
Barnes and Noble in the USA, Amazon if you need strange books coming from far away, a nice bookshop chain in Reykiavjk, called Eymundsson – I saw it while visiting Iceland this year, and I was lost, swimming though the store. But, if I need an idea for a book, I like to go to the shop around the corner, where the people can always give you a nice suggestion – do you remember the beautiful film with Tom Hanks? 🙂
Dear Mr. Nardelli, thank you very much for the interview!