With the launch of Don Quichot Athenaeum—Polak & Van Gennep embarked on an ambitious project that will take about eight years to complete. Every month sees the publication (in an operation they have named Perpetua) of a new volume in a series whose goal is to bring together the hundred best books in the world.
In the field of quality hardbacks Athenaeum have an impressive reputation to maintain. Their taste for letters and all things literary is reflected in the names they give their series: for years now they have been publishing texts by ancient Greeks and Romans in a series called Baskerville which uses the eponymous typeface on its covers. This new ‘top 100’ series likewise bears the name of an illustrious typeface, and again the series name and cover typography are intimately connected.
For the dust jackets designer Anneke Germers has chosen a rich and lively colour palette. The only decoration is a few simple, judiciously positioned dotted lines and the ambience is at once cheerful and distinguished. Just right, in other words.
The interior is built of an evergreen among text faces, Bembo. The version used here goes through life as Bembo Book Pro and is a much improved descendant of the rather anorexic digital Bembo that Monotype have been offering for some time.
The smooth, slightly tinted paper is attractive and adds to the pleasure of reading. Printing and binding are proverbially German in the quality of their workmanship. The cloth is very fine, the spine label handsome. It is nothing short of brilliant that books of this quality are still being published.