Irrepressible, giggling and clad always in vibrant pinks and joyful oranges, Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen are to the traditional world of publishing what Technicolor was to sepia – doubly vivid, three times as exciting and surely the future. Their company, Visual Editions, has now produced four books, each one a masterpiece of ‘visual storytelling’, that ensures that print and paper publications have a future despite the march of the e-reader. First there was a playful re-issue of Laurence Sterne’s The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Then came Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree Of Codes, with its amazing die-cut pages, and, after that, a brilliant new version of Marc Saporta’s Composition No 1, a book in a box made up of loose pages that can be read in whatever order you want. Their latest, which we saw hot-off-the-press, is Kapow!, a fabulous collaboration with one of Britain’s best young writers, Adam Thirlwell. With digressions jammed in, cut-up style, wherever they’ll fit, and pages that fold out, origami-like, it’s another great example of the VE mission: innovative typesetting for the purposes of storytelling. With these four under their belt they’re looking to the future. ‘We’ve got secret plans ahead,’ says Britt with a glint in her eye. She’s not telling but this surely means more events like their mass story-telling event at the V&A and more exciting collaborations with some of the world’s best writers. However, one thing is for certain: the future of the book. It’s safe in their hands.
Anna and Britt’s inspirational reads
While they gave us a sneak preview of Kapow! at their charming little studio in Clerkenwell they told us about their desert island design classics, three beautiful books that inspired their own brand of visual storytelling.
McSweeney’s, Issue Three
‘We chose this because of the spine. It’s a very short story by David Foster Wallace that only lives on the spine. We loved the playfulness of that and how much you could do with so little,’ says Anna, ‘We loved McSweeney’s from the beginning,’ adds Britt ‘We loved the care and craft of it, the slight madness.’
McSweeney’s, Issue Three from Amazon.co.uk
BS Johnson, The Unfortunates
‘This is the second ever book in a box. Johnson was inspired by Saporta (whose book they re-published). We just love it as an object. This is a really beautiful edition. As much space as possible is used. The whole book is an object, not just the inside pages.’
BS Johnson, The Unfortunates from Amazon.co.uk
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
‘This is one of the clearest examples of what we’re now calling visual writing. It has a really close relationship between something visual and the writing, and that something visual helps tell the story.’