Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jenny Goes Smoking

I thought I had discovered something when I found my little cigarette box Conrad in an independent book shop on Rivington Street yesterday: a miniature novel by Conrad packed inside a cute black cigarette box cover, complete with a cellophane covering on top and silver foil paper inside. It was the perfect gift for friends who love books but don’t read. We all have so many of them.

Of course, I was just being Ms Jenny-Come-Lately to London…. again.

Apparently, the publishing company Tankbooks had the brainwave in 2007 when the smoking ban kicked into the UK. The series of cigarette-style classics by Hemingway, Conrad, Tolstoy and others were launched under the name Tales To Take Your Breath Away in the summer of 2007. Its launch was duly noted by the Design Museum, sales zoomed during Christmas, a cigarette company promptly sued it for design infringement, a facebook page popped up to save the series, and soon all was well and everyone forgot about them. The staff at the Waterstone's in Angel couldn't even recall what they were. The books have become a footnote-to-history on the Internet with the Rivington Street shop being one of the last few to still stock them.

What I find odd though is how none of the rave reviews (like this one) commented on one important missing detail: how can you come close to being an imitation cigarette packet without that inseparable whiff of tobacco that envelops the pack and foil? That warm tobacco aroma defines a cigarette packet for me, ciggies or no ciggies inside. It clings to everything: the package, the foil, your fingers.

Inhale all you want, but these cigarette classics will leave you disappointed with their M&S scrubbed cleanness.

For £6.99, me thinks they could have taken the pains.

For Jennies-Come-Lately to London like me who might want to buy these ciggie-classics, you can order them through the Tankbook website. For a closer look at the goods, visit Art Words Bookshop, 65a. Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3QQ (tring tring: 020-7729 2000).


Girish Shahane said...

I guess you didn't grow up with Phantom cigarettes, then.

globalbabble said...

No. I grew up on empty cigarrete boxes sniffing the tobacco:-)
Just because I like the smell of tobacco doesn't mean I like smoking.