This exclusive interview with Prosper Assouline was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in Paris, France during January 2012
Why did you decide to become a book publisher?
I am a man of paper. I launched my 1st magazine at 18 years old convincing people like Helmut Newton and Jean Loup Sieff to work for it. At 25 years old, I created Le Magazine du “ Palace” (Paris equivalent of Studio 54 in the 80’s). I was Art director of Cosmopolitan in the day, and spent all my nights there, in tuxedo, meeting the most incredible people of this period, including them in my magazine. Then, I worked in my own creative agency and worked for many luxury brands. One of my favorite clients was Jacques Helleu, the art director of perfume and jewelry at Chanel. My world is surrounded by books, that inspire me constantly, and I know how to recognize a good book than a bad one in the instant.
Martine, my wife, is a book lover also, even if at the beginning she was more concentrated on texts. It was then obvious to create books together. We tried one, two…. you know the story.
First of all, illustrated books were mainly much more classic. We came with a new type of books like “ memoire de la mode”, our art game books, which were real editorial creations, and became quickly successful series. That type of book has been copied a lot, as our style of layout. We also came with new type of subjects, like trademen’s entrance, Bright Young Things, Happy Times by Lee Radziwill, In the Spirit of, and Allure of men…
We put fashion and style in all our books, as it is in our lives. Now, I can see that many publishers do it, in their own way….
Second, we lived in a less agitated world. In 1994, computers were rare and time was not so “ fast”: People had more time to read. Now you have to be “digest” as the web is. It is not about iPad against Book. It is more about to adapt our creation to the 21st century. Screens will never replace the pleasure of the object/book nor can be personalized. iPad is not my enemy as some journalist would like me to say. It is my complementary.
Ours will be to create less titles and to increase the quality. Our target is quite demanding; educated and mind-sophisticated people.
We also are creating more and more objects for libraries, and will launch soon Assouline Home with several line of sophisticated furniture.
Yes if collector means to have a lot and to be an addict to buy. Martine and I spend most of our free time looking for more books to discover, even in far countries or foreign languages. We are very critical in our choices.
For me, luxury is linked with culture. Today investors put too much money in creation being fashion designers, hotels…. but unless few talented artists, you can feel that mainly of the creative people are poor culture and offer expressively bad text.
I am part of the club who likes good services and subtle creative lives; so I have my addresses. I am very careful in tasting new things or places even if I remain very curious of all what’s going on.
Besides books, what is your true passion?
Looking for antiques.
The above interview with Prosper Assouline 2012 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.