&/ can be a link, a bridge, a junction, a starting point…

Beyond the simple beauty of the character &, the creation of our publishing house is an expression of our desire to bring together writers and artists. Each publication in each collection – from literature to colouring-in books – contains a balance of text and images. The & sign has begun to symbolize yet another association, that of the book and its reader ; that association has been taken form through various initiatives ranging from the usual literary event to reading sessions and exhibitions, along with the creation of the “un repas – un livre” soirees (“a dinner / a book”). Esperluète (French for “Ampersand”) has also taken an active part in many book fairs and in the creation of the “Marché du Livre” (book market) at the Royal Museum of Mariemont, in Belgium, which has been running biennially since 1997. Our house is also committed to using books as a medium to train people from all educational background, art students and beginner-readers alike.

Esperluète, however, is primarily a publisher. Our books are a framework upon which writers and artists to display and set out their creations. Esperluète’s publishing project, which strives for a high literary and aesthetic quality, has been nourished by original texts and images by contemporary artists. Our catalogue has been growing slowly but steadily since 1994. The books are divided into eight collections according to their format: standard books, notebooks, folding “accordion” books, “out of format” books, colouring-in children’s books and cookbooks. Most importantly, our publications are constantly evolving, making our work an everyday challenge.

Our primary goal is to use the book as a medium to explore the ever-surprising experience of reading.

Esperluète Publishers is a member of the Belgian non-profit association “éditeurs associés” (partner publishers), which aims to facilitate the collaboration between small publishing organizations in order to gain recognition.


Esperluète and friends…

Régis Delcourt, bookseller – words spoken on the occasion of the exhibition « Esperluète: a publishing workshop » Namur, 2007

It is always with great enthusiasm that we discover the latest Esperluète publication. Every new book brings together the original works of a writer and an artist, and the combination of two different worlds never fails to surprise us, move or else disturb us. Above all, these books are an invitation to a new experience, that is, a different reading experience. It requires us to forget our usual reading habits in order to grasp the reality and intimacy of the pages which we hold in our hands. Such books are not fit for hasty reading. These are not texts which you can read distractedly, skipping a few chapters here and there or rushing to read the ending of the story. One must take the time to infuse oneself with both the text and images so one can sense the power of their very proximity, unveil their light or violent poetry until the book itself starts playing some soft, mysterious tune. Marguerite Duras used to say that “where there is no music, there are no books, therefore 90of current books are not actual books. Instead, they are mere reading material, much like the newspaper one reads while having a bath.” This is the reason why it seems crucial to us booksellers to support the ambitious work started by Anne Leloup some ten years ago. The books she publishes are real books – books which stay within you, books we want to share. Esperluète’s publication break away from the conventional publishing world and, in doing so, they open a new door onto contemporary literature.

First lines of an article by Jean Laurenti about the « notebooks » collection for the literary journal “Matricule des anges” and the website www.lambda.net, July 2005

While loitering about in some small local bookstore, it might happen that the browser finds himself drawn to two or three unusual-looking books, which immediately catch his eye. They are small, surprisingly light, and not very thick either. The particular texture of the paper, due to its high density, was obviously carefully chosen by some well-versed craftsman. The reader stops for a moment to page through the artfully designed books. The craftman’s name sounds charming and slightly old-fashioned: Esperluète, which is French for Ampersand. The name, which corresponds to the “&” sign, dates back to ancient times, and was once the last letter of the alphabet. It is believed that the beautiful term “esperluète” comes from a mnemonic tune which schoolboys used to sing to remember the end of the alphabet.

Nicole Malinconi, author – words spoken on the occasion of the exhibition « Esperluète: a publishing workshop » Namur, 2007

Esperluète’s publications could be qualified as “junction” books, for their primary characteristic is to blend text and images in one and the same book. The encounter, however, is all but haphazard, for the text and the images are put together in a book deliberately and only when there is a hope, nay a certainty, that they will harmonize. Nevertheless, the intention is not for the text to describe or explain the lines and colours of the drawing – nor is it for the drawing to illustrate the words of the text, for neither is the other’s complement; they could very well exist separately had no one felt that they were linked by something indescribable, like a specific spirit, a light or violent tone, an understatement perhaps.
It is the publisher who unveils that existing link. He then submits the text to a painter whose work reflects the same tone or feeling which he instinctively identified when reading, and it is thanks to his intervention that a writer and a painter who had hitherto been strangers to each other can then meet and confront their works.
Or else it is one of the two who introduces his partner to the publisher, and introduces through him a fresh writing or painting style. In both situations, the publisher is central to bringing them together. It is indeed the case for publisher Anne Leloup. When asked by journalists the customary question “Define your creative direction”, she struggles to respond. Her idea of publishing is not that of a straight line drawn long in advance, but that of an inventive, innovating work enriched by every new encounter.