Too cool for The Ice Age?

          … or will you always judge a book by its cover

I read The Ice Age in manuscript nearly three years ago and I fell in love with it. This was the freshest voice I had come across since the narrator of Alan Warner’s masterful Morvern Callar. The Ice Age doesn’t work like a normal, plot-driven novel: it really is all about the voice, in this case a nameless 17 year old girl who is hitchhiking across America. She meets a charismatic older man, Gunther, who offers her a lift, drives her around, introduces her to his friends and embarks on adventures – some good, some bad. By the end of the novel this girl’s life will never be the same again.

We acquired the novel in 2009 and published it as a paperback original in 2010. We produced a beautiful proof and sent it out to writers and reviewers and people we thought might love it. We were fortunate in many ways – firstly Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) and Stuart Hammond (of Dazed and Confused) fell in love with it; both gave us great quotes and have supported the book by word of mouth constantly ever since. I commissioned a designer to produce a cover that would concentrate on the voice and I felt the response was stunning: a contemporary typographic cover of burnished gold with a quote from the book running across back and front. It didn’t look like anything else. And then reviews came in – there were fans there and not just the obvious ones: the Guardian and The Times loved it; and so did the Mirror and the Mail. It was shortlisted for prizes, but there weren’t many in the shops, it didn’t stay on display long, and it just didn’t sell as we had hoped it would.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered this competition and to all who helped spread the word. The competition is now closed.

Maybe readers just didn’t know what kind of book The Ice Age was: the cover didn’t make it easy; were we trying too hard?

But I refused to give up – and, buoyed by colleagues here who felt the same, we decided to try again. Uniquely, we decided to reissue it a year later in the same format but with a different look. We wanted to tell something of the story (as much as there was one) and give a feel for the voice in a more human way. A designer here found a photograph that seemed to show something of our mysterious narrator, and he created some hand-written lettering that also felt right.

There still aren’t that many in the shops, so we must again rely on readers discovering The Ice Age and telling their friends and fellow-readers about this magical book.

With this in mind, I am asking anyone who is inspired by this to read The Ice Age to email us. We have 50 copies, 25 of each cover. If you’d like one just email [email protected] with The Ice Age Comp in the subject line and tell us which you’d like – the first typographical one or the one with the photograph – and let us know your postal address. And if you like it, please tell some more people. The Ice Age deserves it and only when it becomes the word-of-mouth success it deserves to be, will I feel I have done justice to this unique book. 

This competition ends at 4pm on Wednesday 28th September 2011. Winners will be notified by email.

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