The fine art of reading well



The fine art of reading well

Swish new bookseller arrives in South Africa

Jenn Platt

Assouline books are more than just a luxury brand to display on your coffee table; they are works of pop and modern cultural history.
The high-end publishers have added Johannesburg as an international destination that showcases and sells their lifestyle books – they have established stores in New York, London, Paris, Italy and recently Lima, Peru. You can also find a curated collection in Cape Town at the antique showroom Artefect. But now these lavishly bound books are available at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park. They are big, exquisitely photographed, finely crafted, sought after and aspirational. The price definitely reflects this. One of the most expensive collections, The Impossible Collection, comes packaged in a slip case in whatever material reflects the subject matter and costs about R14,500.“The store is definitely the flagship of the brand, and the incorporation of the EB Social Cafe into the bookshop gives the same feel that Assouline boutiques elsewhere have. There is, for example, a wall of luxury gifts in the restaurant, which is unique to Hyde Park,” says Johan Hugo, sales manager for Peter Hyde Associates, the South African distributors of the books.The publishing house started in 1994 when Prosper and Martine Assouline wrote La Colombe d’Or – a collector’s piece about the history of their favourite hotel in the south of France. The photographs were taken by Prosper and the words written by Martine.
They decided to start a publishing house in the basement of their apartment in France.
These books soon became so successful that the tide of digital didn’t stop their popularity. There are more than 1,500 books on fashion, travel, style, jewellery, even golf, and they are the go-to publishers for industry leaders like Chanel, Bulgari, Dior and Coca-Cola to create their high-end branded collection titles.SOME LOVELY-TO-HAVE BOOKS
The Impossible Collection of WineThe world’s best sommelier, Enrico Bernardo, invites the reader to celebrate with him the most exceptional wines across the globe from the 1928 Krug Champagne to the 1951 Penfolds Grange Bin 95 to the 1973 Stag’s Leap Estate SLV. Each book is  handbound and presented in an exquisite wooden crate.
Chic StaysSubtitled Conde Nast Traveller’s Favourite People on Their Favourite Places,  this is one of their more popular titles. Explore the luxurious Scottish hideaways, Italian family retreats, Mexican boutique hotels and quiet golden beaches where the likes of Sophia Coppola, Kate Winslet, Sophie Dahl, Sebastian Faulks and the like call their home away from home.
Bulgari: The Joy of GemsJewellery creations by Bulgari are distinct and classic. Bringing the gems to vivid life are the descriptions written by  historian Vivienne Becker. Pages are filled with glorious photographs of the legacy and luxury of the collections of Bulgari, all contained in a limited slipcase edition.
The Impossible Collection of WarholNot everyone is a fan of Andy Warhol’s explosive pop art but there is no doubt that he was a pioneer of the movement. Warhol expert Eric Shiner curates a collection of 100 of the quintessential works that define the artist, from his start in the late 1940s to the end of the 1980s, revealing a deep understanding of his creations.
Dior (first three in a series of five)Each volume is dedicated to a head designer at Dior. So far there have been three. The first is the compendium on the iconic designs by Christian Dior, the second is Dior by Yves Saint Laurent from his debut in 1958 and the third features Marc Bohan’s design outlook until 1989.

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