Canongate is repackaging some of its most "distinctive, original and relevant books" as The Canons, with 12 titles launching during the Edinburgh Book Festival and another 12 to follow in 2012.
Managing director Jamie Byng said the series—on sale from 25th August—was in the vein of its Rebel Inc, Classics and Payback Press imprints from the 1990s, which reissued forgotten titles with specially commissioned introductions. He said: "For a book to be ‘Canonised', we need to feel passionate about the book and firmly believe it has something of real value to offer to a contemporary reader."
Among the authors who have penned introductions for The Canons are David Mitchell (Under the Skin), Seamus Heaney (The People of the Sea), and Thomas Pynchon (Stone Junction). Byng said: "[This is] about the creation of a new series that is highly distinctive, wildly eclectic and different from anything anyone else is doing in this country."
Each paperback has a clean, minimal, unified look with a white cover. The r.r.p. will vary from £10 to £12. Byng said: "The production values—fine paper stock, removable cover stickers, flaps and full-colour printing on the inside of the flaps—have necessitated £10 as a default price point, but we also feel that these high production values will make The Canons highly desirable as physical objects and less disposable than your typical paperback.
"As the world becomes increasingly digital, the mass-market paperback is the format that is most likely to be cannibalised by the e-book. But we strongly feel that there will be an ongoing demand for our most enduring and rewarding titles in physical editons that people will want to hold, read, keep and give."
Among the 2012 titles are Virginia Woolf's Orlando (introduced by Tilda Swinton), Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout (introduced by Jarvis Cocker) and The Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova (selected and introduced by Jo Shapcott).