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On Style: Out of Print Clothing

2011 March 15

On Style is a new interview series where I ask writers, editors, bloggers, and retailers what literary style means to them. My first interview is with Todd Lawton, co-founder of Out of Print Clothing.

Out of Print is known for their t-shirt line featuring iconic book cover designs. However, they do more than sell t-shirts: this fall, the company sent 560 cases of donated books to schools and libraries in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Africa. This surpassed the goal of sending the shipping container after one year of business–Out of Print was three months ahead of schedule.

Not only do I love the idea of incorporating books into clothing (duh), I love that Out of Print is serious about bringing literacy to struggling parts of the world. I asked Todd a few questions about this awesome clothing line:

•   How did the concept for Out of Print evolve, and where did you get the idea to create clothing from book covers?

The idea for Out of Print evolved fairly organically from a conversation my business partner and I had about books and the way e-readers have changed the reading experience.  Something we both love about paper books is the way cover art can draw you in at first glance–so much is conveyed in the cover.  As we move into a new era of reading, the role of the book cover is in question.  We wanted to create a way for people to celebrate these great stories and art and help facilitate a broad dialogue about books.  Our shirts are essentially conversation starters for this debate.

•   Where do you get your book donations from, and how did you decide on where to send them? Do you plan on continuing these donations?

We work with a great charity partner called Books For Africa.  They find books through their supplier networks and connect them to community organizations in Africa who greatly need books for educational purposes.  In 2010, we donated over 70,000 books to 4 different countries.  Our plan is to continue to help these groups through our partnership with BFA and, as we grow, look for more opportunities to impact lives through books and reading programs.  We hope that this is only the beginning.

•   How did you choose which books to use for your designs? What about those particular books inspired you?

Initially Jeff and I picked books we liked.  Since our launch we have had thousands of requests from our customers.  We keep track of every request and are starting to make our new style decisions based on what our customers like.  Once we have a book in mind, we have to do a lot of research to find a cool cover and figure out how to license it.  It’s a lot of work, but the outcome is completely worth it.

•   Do you have plans to expand your designs or create other items, such as accessories or dresses?

We have some really cool new products and collaborations in the works.  Best way to hear about them is to become our Facebook friend or follow us on Twitter…you can also subscribe to our newsletter if you prefer.

  • What is your definition of “literary style”?

Literary style is the exact opposite of Charlie Sheen.  It attracts conversation and interest rather than vomiting it on everyone.  It’s also timeless and something that people genuinely care about.

Thanks Todd and Out of Print! Be sure to check out the shop for new original designs and a new line for kids! Also, they have a book nerd’s answer to March Madness–a Book Madness bracket! Head over to the site to vote on your favorites. Take that, sports.

2 Responses Post a comment
  1. March 15, 2011

    1) Interview series! Ooh fancy! And super neat! Look at your blog go!

    2) Holy crap, this company is awesome!

    3) Hey…March Madness is the best time of the year! HOWEVER, Book Madness? An AMAZING idea (too).

  2. Raquel permalink
    March 17, 2011

    I second the love for the interview series! Great idea and great interview!

    I love Out of Print clothing. I got their Bell Jar tee for myself and my cousin (we both LOVE that book) and it amazing. I love the work they do too. Fabulous!

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