Alma gets classical with 300-strong list

Independent publisher Alma Books is planning to bring more "flair and quality" to its classics list. Alma will rebrand Oneworld Classics as Alma Classics after it gained full control of the previously joint venture in February this year.

The list comprises 300 titles by authors including Raymond Queneau, Dante and F Scott Fitzgerald, with the first titles in the new Alma livery to be published in September. Prices and formats will vary for each book, with Alma Books managing director Alessandro Gallenzi saying the books' looks "will have some personality".

Among the first titles to be published will be James Joyce's Ulysses (September, hb, £14.99); Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferndinand Celine, translated by Ralph Manheim and with a foreword by John Banville (September, pb, £9.99); and Exercises in Style by Queneau, translated by Barbara Wright and with a foreword by Umberto Eco and an essay about Queneau's works by Italo Calvino (September, hb, £9.99).

Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned, This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night will be released as £6.99 paperbacks in September, with The Beautiful and Damned and This Side of Paradise produced on Arctic paper with flaps, and containing pictures and an apparatus on Fitzgerald's life and works. Bernard Shaw's The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Life, with a foreword by Polly Toynbee, will be released in October (£12.99, hb).

Gallenzi said taking full control of the Classics was a "watershed moment". He said: "We are going to take it in a much more creative and exciting direction. I will show people we can surprise them with classics. The real focus is on quality—of translation, of paper, of design. We want to rediscover more neglected classics and try to bring them to readers inventively and in a new way."

One hundred of the books are already available as print-on-demand titles, and Alma are aiming to have made 150 titles available in PoD format by the end of the year. 

Gallenzi said the classics market was challenging at the moment, but said he felt confident Alma Classics would make an impact due to the individual approach taken to each book. He also said there was a focus on attracting younger readers to explore classics for the first time.

The imprint's motto is "Clari in Tenebris", meaning "Shining in the Dark", which Gallenzi said reflected how he would like the Alma Classics to be perceived—as "stardust in the dark".