Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century

For a few blissful months back in early 2005, HaperCollins Canada spoiled us rotten by allowing us to purchase the British edition of a British book. I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but they decided to give it a go nonetheless. The book in question was Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century by the hip, young British thinker Mark Leonard, the man who rebranded the UK as Cool Britannia back in the mid-1990s. Published by HarperCollins UK imprint Fourth Estate on 21 February 2005, the cover was based upon the proposed new flag for Europe designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, a friend of the author.

Alas, as was the case with Cool Britannia and the Blair Bubble, the fun was not to last. At some point during that fateful spring of 2005, HarperCollins Canada stopped filling orders for the book, although they continued to accept them. Then in late July, completely out of the blue and without warning or explanation, they started to send out a much less attractive edition of the book to fill all of the outstanding orders. It turned out that Perseus Book Group’s PublicAffairs imprint (at the time distributed in Canada by HarperCollins) had snapped up the Canadian rights to the book, thereby preventing any further sales of the UK edition in Canada, and then released their considerably less interesting American edition on 26 July 2005. The thing that was most dégueulasse about the whole affair was that they took orders for the British edition and then sent out the American edition. The old bait and switch.

Also pictured below is the French edition of the book published on 2 March 2006 by Éditions Plon (who mercifully had the decency to retain the Koolhaas design), as well as The Future of Europe (September 2006, MIT Press) by the Italian economists Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi, whose cover design seems to have been similarly influenced.

Click on a cover for the full size image.

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If one day the promise of Mark Leonard’s book is realised, perhaps we will no longer have to suffer the indignity of receiving British and European culture through an American filter.

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~ by Thomas on 2007-Jun-22.

One Response to “Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century”

  1. Soory to disagree, but I think the American design is the strongest. It’s where my eye went first: clean, simple, great type, a pop of color here and there…an excellent and sophisticated solution.

    The other designs look extremely dated, and not in an ironic, intentional way, more like a depressing Soviet-bloc-era, can’t- afford-real-materials sort of way…if that makes any sense. They look derivative and awkward.

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