Interview Contact Name and Job Title: Carl Pappenheim, MD
Website URL: spinelessclassics.com
Social Media Links:
Number of outlets: 200+
Location(s): All over UK, Australia, around Europe
Market(s): Home decorative, gift
Other relevant info: Publishing/homeware crossover, making art from complete books
Modern Retail speaks to Carl Pappenheim, managing director of the brilliant and unique gift wholesale company Spineless Classics. A whole book on one page and the best part … not one word is missing! Read on to learn more about Spineless Classics…
MR: What makes your product unique?
CP: Spineless Classics are complete novels, printed entirely on one page. We take the complete text, shrink it down to a small but legible 4 point, and arrange it on the page to form an image representing the story. From a distance, it’s a piece of understated art but up close you can actually read it right off the wall.
MR: How do you aim to stand out as a brand?
CP: Spineless Classics prints are always a talking point wherever we go. People who see us at retail shows are always amazed by the concept and love the innovative take on such an established format. There are, now, similar concepts on the market but we are still the only brand that remains committed to using complete, easily readable texts, with striking designs.
MR: How would you sum up your target customer?
CP: People who can read, and have walls in their homes. Or, if not, those who know one of the first people well enough to buy them a gift. Part of the magic of books is that they appeal to everyone; we’ve got Roald Dahl, J R R Tolkien, Ian Fleming and Jane Austen in our range, along with scores of other famous authors. From “Trainspotting” to “The Princess Bride” or “Scouting for Boys”, we literally have something for everyone.
MR: Why should Retailers stock your items?
CP: One client I recall bought ten to decorate his bed shop, and phoned up a fortnight later to place a large order because, “people won’t stop asking where they can buy them!”. Another customer put one in the window and found he was selling more of everything because people were coming in to ask if it really was the whole book. Spineless Classics appeal to a wide range of people and are an eye-catching and memorable addition to almost any retail display.
MR: What do you want to do differently to your competitors?
CP: Our designs really, really are the whole book. Nothing is cut away or hidden. We also keep all the original formatting, with italics and paragraphs, so when you look up close it’s just like a page from the paperback.
MR: What challenges do you face as a business, and how do you aim to overcome them?
CP: Spineless Classics aren’t just another version of an existing product. People often aren’t looking for them, and don’t realise what they’re looking at unless it’s explained to them. We aim to support our retailers with point of sale that gets our brand message across and, with a little reassurance from sales staff, customers will quickly get over their astonishment. Prints are also very vulnerable but our packaging is second to none and fully guaranteed for mail delivery by our clients.
MR: How do you use technology/media/ecommerce to improve your offering?
CP: We sell direct through our website, which allows us to offer the more esoteric titles to picky customers, but our barcoded and automated stock and dispatch control means we can ship more popular titles to stores on a next-day basis in most cases.
MR: What do you love about your work/business/brand?
CP: I’m not much of an artist and much of the original graphic design is the result of collaboration with a number of talented creators from around the world. However, I do all the typesetting myself and making a book fit neatly onto exactly one page without forcing it or making the text look jumbled together is harder than it might look. In a way, it’s flattering when people think it’s a straightforward process – it means the design looks natural and just right.
MR: What advantages/disadvantages does your location bring?
Being in London is great for networking but real estate is of course at a premium. We do hold stock, but it’s outside the M25 for cost reasons.
MR: What are your growth aims for the next 12 months?
CP: Of course we’re constantly looking to add new products to the range and in 2018 we are opening new distribution lines into the USA.
MR: What do you find most rewarding about your job?
CP: At my first ever trade show a visitor looked at the “Pride and Prejudice” design and said, “I wish I’d seen it all on one page before I had to slog through it for GCSE. It looks so much less intimidating than a thick hardback!” We are in many schools and libraries, as well as countless children’s bedrooms up and down the country. As a life long reading enthusiast it makes me happy that we are helping make reading a fun and engaging idea for young minds.
Charlotte Lynch, Modern Retail UK