After publishing more than 20 volumes in France featuring reproductions of original manuscripts by renowned authors, Paris-based SP Books has begun selling the limited-edition books in the U.S. Founded in 2012 by Jessica Nelson and Nicolas Tretiakow, SP publishes oversize, slipcased books that are printed on deluxe paper and feature facsimiles of the handwritten manuscripts—with revisions and notes—of such authors as Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde.
“We pick authors who are close to our hearts,” Nelson said when asked how she chooses which writers to add to the line. Once Nelson and Tretiakow agree on a book, they work with estates, museums, private collectors, and other sources to get a copy of the manuscript.
“It is always an adventure,” Nelson said about hunting down the manuscripts. She said that they had a difficult start in getting ahold of original manuscripts, but that once SP began producing the books, “one door opened another—people saw we are looking to pay tribute to the writers.”
Though new technology allows SP to restore many manuscripts, some are in such bad shape they can’t be reproduced, Nelson said. Most print runs are limited to 1,000 copies, and prices range from $120 to $350. The books are only sold via SP’s own website. Among the most popular books sold in France are Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast screenplay, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Underground, Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, and Boris Vian’s Froth on the Daydream. A copy of Beauty and the Beast that cost €149 (under $180) was resold by a customer for €3,000 (nearly $3,600).
Two books have already been released in the U.S.: The Great Gatsby was published last November, and Frankenstein was released in February. Both are almost sold out, Nelson said. Other forthcoming titles include The Second Sex, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Oliver Twist. In addition to being sold on the SP site, the books released in America are also available at Strand Bookstore and Albertine, both in New York City.