Call us shallow, but we may judge books by their covers just a little bit, okay? And on that front, the ones we offer, from Juniper Books, score big. Each book set in our sales is personally curated by Thatcher Wine, the company’s founder, in coordination with the publishers — and each one makes a singular style statement. Some feature custom jackets that were designed and printed in Colorado — where Juniper Books is based — exclusively by the company (others are beautiful as they are, and are thus jacket-less). And there’s substance behind the style, too: Content-wise, you’ll find everything from classics to cookbooks. (These aren’t those just-for-show decorative books that are eerily blank inside… we’re not that shallow.) We asked Wine a few questions about how he got to where he is today, where he gets his inspiration, and how to add style to a library:
How did you start your company? I started selling books in 2001 as a hobby and didn’t really expect it to grow into a full-time business. I have always loved books and had a variety of collections in my life — baseball cards, coins, stamps, etc. I started selling some of my books online and really enjoyed the process. A request from a family friend to build a library of 4,000 books for their beach house in South Carolina got me focused on curating custom libraries, and it evolved from there. In 2010 I started introducing our decorative book sets, which have been a huge hit on Gilt.
Where does the name “Juniper Books” come from? I love trees, and there is an obvious connection between them and the paper that goes into books. Juniper trees are aromatic, sacred in numerous cultures — and juniper berries are used to make gin (gin and tonic is my cocktail of choice).
How would you describe your books’ aesthetic? We try to bring some of the content and feeling of the inside of the books to the outside. We aim for clean lines, an inventive use of type and color, and a fun sensibility that you would not expect of static books.
Where do you get your inspiration? Everywhere. Often it comes from channeling the authors and thinking “What would Jane Austen want if she could design these book covers?” With our kids books, I see what my own kids (5 and 7) react to and like. I also work with the most talented interior designers around the world and get a lot of inspiration from their work and designing our books to seamlessly integrate into their projects.
What are the elements of a stylish library? I think a stylish library is one that looks like it belongs — it’s not just a bunch of books thrown on the shelf, it’s not overly staged; it’s “just right.” It reflects the personality of its owner(s) in content and appearance. One of my overarching concepts is that for too long people have spent their time and resources making their homes look perfect but then when it comes to filling their bookshelves people have accepted books as they are. I believe that everyone should have the books they want on their shelves AND they should look exactly the way they want them to — if we have to create or modify books to get them to be perfect, that’s what we do.
How can your books be incorporated into a traditional library space? A modern library space? We provide a variety of books that will work in any space. That’s we have such a breadth of offerings from antique leather books to super contemporary sets featuring our jackets. There truly are books for everyone and we can further personalize everything we offer if a customer requests a specific color, size, binding style, author, subject collection and so on. We can take modern bestsellers and put them in book covers designed to look like antique leather; conversely, we can give old books a fresh look with coordinated contemporary-style jackets.
How many people work at your company? When interviewing someone, what qualities do you look for? We have 5 employees right now. Attention to detail is probably the most important quality — there are so many small details that go into every order or project, from making sure our designs line up perfectly to how everything is packaged and shipped.