Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook is one of the most influential novels of the 20th Century.
We were approached by Bob Stein at the Institute for the Future of the Book to collaborate on, and help make happen, a dream of Bob’s for many years.
Bob had been greatly touched by The Golden Notebook, and re-reading it again (coincidentally just before Lessing won the Nobel Prize in 2007) was struck by how amazing the book was – yet how poorly read it is among the younger generations today. For such an influential novel to be unknown, particularly given its impact in the 60s, seemed to be that most over-used thing: a literary crime.
When we first met Bob, we discussed the book, and our long-standing relationship with Doris’ publisher, HarperCollins and 4th Estate in particular. We had soon set up meetings and pitched an incredible idea both to HC and to Lessing: an open, free, worldwide re-reading of the book, lead in public by great readers and writers of the current generation.
The project, which launched in November 2008, pulled together so many of our interests and obsessions that we feel lucky to have been involved. The full text of the book has been made freely available online, and is being commented on by the readers that the Institute has lined up.
We focused on making a beautiful, elegant, typographically compulsive-obsessive, site that (hopefully) is a step in the direction of the future of the book itself.
As readers move through the book, they can leave comments on every page, and visitors can jump from these pages to a complementary forum where they can join the discussion, or open up to the wider topics of the book.
The site is tied to the UK and US editions of the book, allowing readers to easily find their place in either version of the text, and bookmark the online version.
The design of the site is closely tied to the notebooks themselves, with golden, blue, red, black and yellow versions of the book pages. Finally, there’s a blog where the readers ponder the experience itself.
Client: Bob Stein (if Book)
Digital Publisher: Kate Hyde (HarperCollins)
Design: Fabian Herrmann
Producer: Peter Collingridge
Coding & Programming: James Bridle