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Enhanced e-books are thought to be the next major threshold in the digital book universe,” wrote PublicAffairs founder and editor-at-large Peter Osnos in the most recent issue of the Atlantic. Osnos was inspired to address what the near future could bring by Hyperion’s enhancement of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, which contained 22 minutes of video and the entire audio recording of Jacqueline’s interviews with Arthur Schlesinger. Always the savvy publisher, Osnos noted the inherent problems. Admitting, “We are still in the very early stages of the development and availability of these books,” Osnos pointed to the elephant in the room: securing rights to archival material to support an enhancement. Sports books, books about cinema, and cookbooks cry out for video enhancement—and the day may come when rights to multimedia enhancements are more available. Just imagine if Knopf, which is about to release an e-book of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, could add a dash of video enhancement with those PBS shows. But that day is not quite here.

For the moment, however, text and photography, gliding smoothly with their practiced grace, are going strong in the illustrated book category. And several of the more high-end art book publishers are keenly aware that production values and the right subject can make for success.

To wit: in May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art published Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, on the occasion of the Met’s blockbuster show of the late fashion designer’s work. Reports publisher and editor-in-chief Mark Polizzotti, “After only five months, the book is in its sixth printing, and now has 200,000 copies in print—and is still going strong more than a month after the show closed.” The lushly illustrated book retails for $45.

Abrams and Rizzoli, neither slaves to fashion nor new to the topic, are weighing in with books about clothes and designers and the legendary taste-making publications that have attended the fashion industry for decades.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier—the French haute couture designer who brought you Madonna in a cone bra among countless other wild flourishes, weighs in at 424 pages and carries a list price of $125 (Abrams). It accompanies a show of Gaultier’s work, which originated at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is now at the Dallas Museum through February, after which it moves to the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Abrams honors the two great fashion mags with separate books: Harper’s Bazaar: Greatest Hits, by the magazine’s current editor-in-chief, Glenda Bailey, who has been at her post for a decade. The book of photo shoots, spreads, and cover reproductions covers Bailey’s tenure, and are meant to show how she has helped make “pop culture fashionable.” It retails for $65.

Then comes Vogue: The Covers ($50), which contains 120 years of the magazine’s covers, from gals in bloomers to Gwyneth Paltrow, evincing a different and more classic sense of style than Harper’s—something for everyone.

Rizzoli is right there in the fashion battle, with three titles forthcoming. In one, an unusual pairing of big names in the business—Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs—turns into a handsome history of an empire. Louis Vuitton started his trade in luggage and packing, a guild profession known as emballeur (packer), in 1854, and transformed the business into the high-end brand we know today—a brand for which designer Jacobs has served as creative director for the past 15 years. With 300 color illustrations and a text by fashion and textile curator Pamela Golbin, the book retails for $80, but does not publish till spring. Then there is Jimmy Choo: Icons, with text by the Jimmy Choo Ltd. co-founder (and British Vogue accessories editor) Tamara Mellon. Rizzoli publishes just after Christmas, at $75. And the fashion-conscious former editor-in-chief of Interview magazine, Ingrid Sischy, appends an essay to Dior Couture, a photographic collection of the iconic Dior gowns. Photos are by well-known fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier, and the book is priced at $150. Perhaps Carrie Bradshaw will read a book.

Cue the Music

There are maisons de haute couture and then there’s rock ’n’ roll, where concert getups worn on stage or pictured on album covers, combined with a musical style and attitude, influence millions. Fashion with licks and lyrics, if you will. Packaged into books, this amalgam can sell and sell, as it did this year, which saw the bandanna-ed Keith Richards, the über-louche, and Steven Tyler, the über hard-ass androgyne, pen life stories that a certain generation couldn’t get enough of. (Life spent 22 weeks on the PW hardcover bestsellers list, 12 on the trade paper list; Tyler’s: 14 on hardcover, with the paperback due in January.)

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