Barrett launch night arrives

The Essential office is a real hive of activity this afternoon as we prepare for tonight’s official launch of Barrett – the definitive visual companion to the life of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett, by Russell Beecher and Will Shutes.

The book is published to coincide with the opening of the Syd Barrett: Arts & Letters exhibition at London’s Idea Generation Gallery, where tonight’s launch party is taking place. The last couple of weeks have seen a flurry of press interest in the joint project, with coverage by Reuters, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, and the BBC World Service today alone. The book and exhibition were also  featured in the Sunday Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph and – last night – on  Radio 4’s flagship arts show Front Row, with presenter John Wilson touring the exhibition with Blur guitarist and Syd fan Graham Coxon (see video below).

But behind all the excitement, tonight’s event marks a real milestone for Essential. Authors Russell Beecher and Will Shutes have done a frankly incredible job tracking down the rare and unseen photographs, letters and artworks featured in the book, and we’ve been tremendously proud to have made this stunning book the latest of our direct sale projects. Find out more about it over on the Barrett website, and watch the Facebook page for photos from the event.

Essential Syd Barrett book in the headlines

Barrett – Essential’s definitive visual companion to the life of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett – publishes later this month, and the book has already been attracting some heavyweight media attention.

Hot on the heels of Shortlist, Record Collector, Pitchfork, Clash Music and Design Week, there have already been two extensive features in national newspapers, with a full page 3 article in the Independent on Sunday and a long piece in the Sunday Times Magazine.

The articles have been focusing on the rare and previously unseen letters, artworks and photographs before during and after Syd’s time in Pink Floyd which have been unearthed by the work of authors Will Shutes and Russell Beecher – making this “absolutely essential” (brain-damage.co.uk) book a “no-brainer for Floyd fans” (Shortlist).

Barrett is published on the 18th March and will be launched at the accompanying exhibition at the Idea Generation Gallery. The book is available now in two editions (one limited) from our dedicated site, barrettbook.com.

The Barrett article in the Sunday Times Magazine

The Barrett article in the Sunday Times Magazine

The Barrett article in the Sunday Times Magazine

The Barrett article in the Sunday Times Magazine

The Barrett article in the Independent on Sunday

The Barrett article in the Independent on Sunday

Phwoar! Essential’s Gaga bible in Sun front page splash

Johnny Morgan’s Gaga, which Essential produced for Sterling Publishing, is being serialised in Britain’s biggest-selling red-top, The Sun.

The front page of today’s edition features one of the rare, early pictures of the pop megastar that we sourced for the book. In it, a black-haired Stefani Germanotta – that’s Gaga – stares into the camera, her arms crossed across her pink-bikini clad breasts. Which is more than we can say for Katie, 25, from Liverpool, over the page.

The Gaga story continues with a double page centre spread, and they’ll be further extracts from the book in Saturday’s paper.

Our Gaga book makes the front page of the Sun

Our Gaga book makes the front page of the Sun

Our Gaga book gets the centre spread treatment

Our Gaga book gets the centre spread treatment

The extract from our Gaga book on the Sun's website

The extract from our Gaga book on the Sun's website

Barrett book is “a no-brainer for Floyd fans”

There can be few better ways to brighten a publisher’s morning commute than to present them with a magazine singing the praises of their latest project. And that’s just what happened this morning, when London’s Shortlist magazine – distributed to commuters at stations across the capital – called our definitive visual companion to the life of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett “a no brainer for Floyd fans”.

The magazine devotes the front of its Notebook section to the Barrett book and forthcoming exhibition at London’s Idea Generation Gallery. “A glimpse into the mind of most iconic rock visionaries would be a difficult opportunity to pass up,” Shortlist says. “A trip into the mind of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett’s is unmissable”.

The article highlights the many unseen photographs, artworks and letters that authors Russell Beecher and Will Shutes have brought together for the first time. After Pink Floyd, Shortlist notes, Barrett’s “paintbrush was working overtime. And unlike Pete Doherty’s blood-splattered sheets of A4, Barrett’s results were every bit as compelling as his recordings”.

We’re publishing Barrett in two unique editions: Classic and Signature. The latter, presented in an opulent clamshell case, comes with a second volume of rare Pink Floyd images by photographer Irene Winsby, plus an invitation to a special event with the two authors at the Idea Generation Gallery exhibition. The Signature Edition copies – of which just 500 are being produced – are also signed by the authors and one of Syd Barrett’s siblings. Find out more on the Barrett book website.

Barrett in Shortlist magazine

Barrett exhibition announced

London’s Idea Generation Gallery has announced the exhibition that accompanies our forthcoming definitive visual companion to the life of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett.

Illustration of the Classic Edition of Barrett – the definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett.Syd Barrett: Art and Letters will be held at the Idea Generation Gallery in London from 18th March to 10th April 2011. It draws on the work we have been doing for Barrett, making it the largest exhibition of Syd Barrett’s original works of art, photographs, and letters ever to be exhibited. As with the book, the exhibition has been organised conjunction with the Syd Barrett Estate and in co-operation with the Barrett family.

Both the book and the exhibition feature hundreds of rare and previously unseen photographs, paintings and letters. In fact, the authors have tracked down all of Barrett’s artworks known to exist, and have even uncovered new photographs – taken by Barrett himself – of paintings that the artist subsequently destroyed.

We’re making two different editions of Barrett. The Classic Edition comes in a handsome green slipcase, featuring a foiled version of one of Barrett’s most familiar motifs. The limited-run Signature Edition, meanwhile, includes a second volume of newly restored, unseen pictures by Irene Winsby – including both candid and posed shots of Barrett and Pink Floyd. The Signature Edition is also signed by one of Barrett’s siblings, and comes with an invitation to an exclusive event to discuss the book with Russell and Barrett art expert and author Will Shutes to be held at the Idea Generation Gallery.

Find out more and order your copy via the book’s own website. There’s also more information on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

One of Barrett's untitled artworks, as featured in the book and exhibition.

One of Barrett's untitled artworks, as featured in the book and exhibition.

ANNAs winners revealed

We don’t make a habit of turning up for work with a hangover, but the morning after the spectacular Awards for National Newspaper Advertising is definitely worth making an exception for.

Comedian John Bishop reveals the 2010 ANNAs winners

Comedian John Bishop reveals the 2010 ANNAs winners

Organised by the Newspaper Marketing Agency, the annual awards celebrate the best adverts to have appeared in British newspapers over the past twelve months. The ANNAs are now in their sixth year, and a firm fixture in the advertising calendar. No surprise, then, that the Mall Galleries were positively overflowing with media glitterati for last night’s glamorous awards ceremony, hosted by comedian John Bishop.

Once again, we’ve been working with the Newspaper Marketing Agency and our design friends at Someone to create the large-format annual that accompanies the awards, showcasing not just the winning ads but also all the runners-up. This year’s book is being delivered directly to attendees, so if you were there last night the book will be landing on your desk shortly.

Top prize this year – a not inconsiderable £25,000 – went to the team behind behind Land Rover’s ‘Conditions’ campaign for its Discovery 4 model. Ads for the likes of Kleenex, BMI, the London Evening Standard and BMW were also amongst the winners, with the AA picking up the coveted online award. Check out all the ads on the ANNAs website and keep up to date with the awards over on Twitter.

Hungry monsters devour Gaga

Our new Lady Gaga book isn’t officially out until November, but the pop princess’ devoted fans (or, more correctly, her Little Monsters) have already been getting their teeth into the first sparkling copies to find their way into stores.

Gaga coverFans on the Gaga Boards forum were amongst the first to set eyes on the sparkling pearlescent-varnished tome, and their OMG-reactions speak for themselves: “awesome”, “gorgeous”, “amazing” to quote just a sprinkling. And comparisons with the plethora of other Gaga books out there also made us smile – Johnny Morgan’s revealing, carefully-researched text combined with some fantastic photographs (some previously unseen), mean that this book “is just in a different league”.

Other sites to have caught wind of the book include lady-gaga.net, gaga-now.com, Brasil’s Lady Gaga Zone, France’s Gaga Monsters, and a site we’re just too polite to name. Over on Amazon, trade journal Publisher’s Weekly called this “splendiferous oversize volume a hip optic delight”, and the book has even earned itself a place on the Gagapedia.

The book’s also been discussed on Twitter and Facebook, where one astonished monster was delighted to discover himself in one of the pictures. If you find yourself in the same position, drop us a line – we’d love to put a name to the face!

Published by Sterling Publishing, Gaga is available at any self-respecting bookstore.

Gaga Now screenshot

Lady Gaga Zone screenshot

Gaga Boards screenshot

The Eagles are here

It’s a rare occasion when an Essential author is flown to the UK from America in order to promote one of our books, but this week we have such an occasion.

Cover of The Eagles: An American BandAndrew Vaughan has written The Eagles: An American Band for us, and the US publisher Sterling have sent him over to help promote its British publication (the book arrived separately). We’re so bemused by his arrival that we’ve managed to get the financial controller to agree to buy him lunch. It’ll be good to catch up with Andrew; we haven’t seen him since early in 2009, when he was last in his homeland. Originally from Norwich, Norfolk, he has lived in Nashville for the past twenty years or so. The weather, music and cars are all better in Tennessee, it has to be said. Before moving to the home of the Grand Ole Opry, Andrew had done a fair bit to promote Country music in the UK, first as a writer for various music mags like Vox and Q (he was also founding editor of Country Music Magazine) and then as VP of communications for Country Music TV in Europe. That was back in the good ol’ 1990s, when there seemed to be a bright international future for Country music, just as long as it was played and performed in the style of Garth Brooks or Shania Twain.

Andrew interviewed Garth and Shania a few times and quickly came to realise how much of an influence the Eagles had been on both of them. The Eagles had been the first band post-Beatles to make purely American music, mixing the sound and feel of original Country music with the then emerging West Coast rock sound. The subjects of Eagles songs and the way they orchestrated their sound (despite their first two albums being made in rain-swept and strike-cursed London) evoked a particular feel of America. They were not as traditional-sounding as Gram Parsons or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, nor as rock-oriented as the Allman Brothers or Black Oak Arkansas, with the result that not only did the Eagles score major pop hits, but they also attracted a huge live following, too. Andrew captures all of the band’s history—as colourful as it is—and that is illustrated using some rare and unique images. Not that I’m plugging the book, of course.

It’s good that plaid shirts are back in fashion here in London; we can make Andrew feel almost as if he’s at home when he gets here for lunch. He’s been staying in East Anglia over the weekend, so it’s been a slow acclimatisation to the British way of life. The trip from Liverpool Street station to Clerkenwell will be a bit of a shock, but we’ll order burgers ready for his arrival. Then after lunch we’ll add votes to the name of Mick Jones at Gibson.com as axe hero.

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Spread from The Eagles: An American Band

Dirty Business

Some authors are more hands-on than others. Take Peter Silverton, the foul-mouthed maven of insult, profanity, rudeness and crudeness, for instance. Here he is at CPI Bookmarque, the printers of the paperback edition of his excellent book, Filthy English: The How, Why, When & What of Everyday Swearing.

Essential author Peter Silverton (middle) shows off the paperback of Filthy English, hot off the press.

Essential author Peter Silverton (middle) shows off the paperback of Filthy English, hot off the press.

He dropped in to watch copies coming off the binding line (a technical term) at their Croydon plant, and was made very welcome because, as they explain on their website, they are ‘always keen to show publishers and authors around’. Even if an author insists on referring to them all as a bunch of ****s. Judging by the smiles—the author is in the middle, between publisher Portobello Books’ production director Sarah Wasley and CPI senior sales manager Kevin Martin—either someone has just passed wind very loudly, or they’re all very happy with the rather splendid cover. It has a printed reverse giving the effect of it having been created on a letter press—younger readers will have to resort to Wikipedia to find out what one of those was.

Filthy English was very favorably reviewed on hardback publication last year, with many a classy, large-format newspaper lavishing it with well-earned praise. One of them concluded from reading it that ‘swearing really is big and clever’, the silly fucker. The paperback is published on October 7, and very reasonably priced at £8.99. There may well be readings by the author around the time of publication, which those of a nervous disposition are advised not to attend, while those unsure as to ‘whether this is a serious work or a way of using as many obcenities as possible’ (Mr J Hartley) are advised to first learn to spell obscenities and then how to use them properly. ****.

Gaga’s in the office!

It’s hard to contain the excitement in the Essential penthouse when we hear the sound of labouring breath on the approach to our top floor apartment, accessed only via several flights of stairs (or over rickety Clerkenwell rooftops). Not because we rarely get visitors, because we do, often. Honest. (And they’re not all looking for the ladies’ toilet, either.) No, the reason we get excited when we hear someone approaching who sounds out of breath it’s most often because they are carrying something heavy: books, in their fifteenth century format.

Gaga coverBooks are hefty—especially the kind we like to make—and they take some effort to transport in boxes of 20 or so, which is usually how they arrive here. This week we have been delighted to receive two boxes of advance copies of our Gaga book, and a thing of rare beauty it is, too, as befits the Upper West Side Pop Princess herself.

Once the conveyor of the boxes has been given oxygen, a cocoa leaf and sent on his merry way, the top of the first box is ripped away and we all inhale that unmistakable odor of fresh books. It’s impossible to explain in any satisfactory terms the olfactory sensation given by freshly printed books, but it compares favourably with the moment when the microwave door swings open on an Wiseguys anchovy Pizza.

After we’ve all fumbled our own copy of the glossy tome onto our desks, in the silence which followed as we pored over every page,  you could hear the shriek of a police siren in W6 from our EC1 address. Although to be fair, you can hear that any day and any time. The consensus of opinion here is that the book is good. Hopefully our cousins in America will feel the same way when they ripped the top from the box of their advance copies. We’ll let you know.