Hard on the heels of the Dante-inspired In a Dark Wood, I had the opportunity to join in the blog tour for The Lover’s Path, which is spreading the word about new electronic editions of a beautiful “illustrated novella of Venice” by author-artist Kris Waldherr. This atmospheric story of forbidden romance is complemented by brief vignettes about lovers throughout history and legend, sensitively portrayed in rich, glowing images. Presented as if it were an artifact from the “Museo di Palazzo Filomela,” with attendant notes, maps, and museum information, it melds history and imagination in a way that will intrigue and delight lovers of Renaissance art and classical mythology.
The original print edition was a deluxe production with removable letters and other tactile features that greatly enhanced the reading experience; the e-book is available in several forms, including from PDF to Kindle to full-color interactive editions. I was curious about how the author found the process of transferring this unique content into a digital form, and pleased that she agreed to share her thoughts. It turns out that to create the e-book, she had to reimagine the whole project — and added much new and unique content in the process. Read on to learn more about her path of design discovery.
The Rebirth of The Lover’s Path by Kris Waldherr
Of all my books, The Lover’s Path is one of my favorites. It was also one of my most complex to write, design, and illustrate. The Lover’s Path took a full decade of work before it was finally published in 2005 by Abrams Books as a full color gift book. And now, another decade later, I’m delighted it is finally available as an e-book—a rebirth that almost didn’t happen.
Set in Renaissance Venice, The Lover’s Path was inspired by the true story of a courtesan named Tullia d’Aragona and her younger sister. It included illustrations, artifacts, and love myths from a faux museum called the Museo di Palazzo Filomela. The print book included letters, tarot cards, and other tactile elements. Though I’d obtained digital rights from the publisher in 2012, I couldn’t bring myself to begin work on it. It was too overwhelming. Another road block: the square dimensions of the print book didn’t translate well for e-readers, which are more horizontal of proportion. Was there any way I could make my book more beautiful, more emotionally satisfying, more interactive as an e-book? I couldn’t see how. No matter how exquisitely I designed the digital edition, it wouldn’t be the same.
I was about to consign The Lover’s Path to the halls of Beloved Books of Years Past. We’ll always have Venice, I told myself. Then I realized: the best way forward was a new way forward. This eureka moment gave me the creative freedom to treat the digital book as a separate entity from the print. So hooray!
Here’s how The Lover’s Path has been reborn for a new world: Not only does the digital edition sport a lovely new cover, the text has been expanded to flesh out the story. (The text in the original print edition was kept short because of cost—four color books are uber-expensive to produce.) I was also able to add new “artifacts” from the Museo di Palazzo Filomela in an expanded chapter. Coolest of all, the iPad edition even includes interactive graphics and maps.
As a result, I believe the e-book is a much richer, more immersive literary and artistic experience than the print edition, as lovely as it was. However, what pleases me most is that The Lover’s Path is now a living book, which can be updated at will. For example, I plan to record a sound walk in Venice this summer; this will find its way into future multimedia editions.
Now that the e-book edition of The Lover’s Path is here at last, I am so excited to share it with the world. And remember, to truly love another, you must walk along the lover’s path wherever it may lead you.
Kris Waldherr is the author and illustrator of The Lover’s Path: An Illustrated Novella of Venice, which is now available for the first time as an e-book. She is also the author of Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, The Book of Goddesses, and many other books and card decks. Learn more at LoversPathBook.com.