Summer is a haze of rush and lull with lazy days stretching like evening shadows and busy days of bustling afternoon traffic. Sunny seasons in Beacon are filled with expressions of travel: tourists flooding in for the various festivals and serenity of this riverside city; residents trickling in and out of town.
Traveler or not, postcards offer a distinctive alternative to a stale phone call or a routine text as a way of staying in touch. Especially intriguing, however, are postcard books - mini books to be mailed - available at Binnacle Books, published by Beacon-based Paravion Press.
What is a postcard book? The publisher at Paravion Press, Will Brady, enlightens us: “The concept came about at the shop in Greece [Atlantis Books, which Will co-founded] because we wanted to give customers an alternative to postcards, something they could mail easily but which had a bit of literary substance to it.”
Binnacle Books, a charming bookstore nestled on Beacon’s Main Street, sells a collection of these postcard books. Postcard books are short reads meant to be sent by mail. Each book comes with an envelope and a blank first page titled “for your correspondence” for the sender to add in a few words of their own. Postcard books reveal a sense of thoughtfulness to the receiver, the sender having chosen a specific title to express a particular theme or message creatively through stories or essays in place of mundane phrases and cliché sayings.
Says Kate, co-owner of Binnacle Books about the postcard book project: “We love Paravion Press because the books are really beautiful, and because we think that the power of literature is the strongest when people connect with each other through it: Paravion builds in a charming and unexpected way to share literature and we love that. Will Brady designs and prints new editions of all the works, specifically to be mailed and shared. It's a whole engaging intellectual and aesthetic experience in a mailable form.”
What Inspires A Person To Send A Postcard Book?
One girl in the bookstore said that she loved the postcard books because they made available essays that were otherwise hard to find, usually lost in other larger collections of essays. Years ago, she said, a friend had sent her a PDF of an essay she loved. She re-discovered the essay through a postcard book from Paravion Press, and sent it back in postcard book form to her friend with a handwritten note on the intended first page. Postage is the same as a regular letter.
What Titles Are Available In These Postcard Books?
Inside of Binnacle, I found seven postcard book titles. Five are included in their first collection, appropriately titled “The First Series.” The collection includes:
“The Beauties” by Anton Chekhov
“On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying” by Mark Twain
“Sophistication” by Sherwood Anderson
“The Lumber-Room” by Saki
“Feuille d’Album” by Katherine Mansfield.
The single titles include “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll and “How the First Letter Was Written” by Rudyard Kipling. Available in a variety of muted colors, from dusty maroon and delicate ivory to powder blue and subtle green, the sophisticated aesthetic adds to the appeal of miniature books in the mail.
On Sending A Postcard Book To One’s Self…
Mark Twain’s “On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying” immediately caught my eye in my search for a birthday card to send to a friend; I figured a postcard book would provide sentiment and provoke conversation. I could not help but skim over the words inside, and before I knew it, I thoughtfully read the brief 11 pages of this curious piece. A balance of sharp critique and tongue-in-cheek remarks, Mark Twain crafted a refreshing, clever piece unraveling the psychology of lying.
To my delight, Paravion Press sells three more postcard book collections online including “The Madrid Series,” “The London Series,” and “The New York Series.”
Is it strange that I wish to collect as many as I can to send to myself?