Two new unique book projects from Quartz and Jordi Savall

‘The Objects that Power the Global Economy’ is the first book from the Atlantic Media business brand, and examines ‘largely invisible’ objects that changed the global economy

The US Postal Service brought a couple of eagerly awaited Christmas presents in the form of new books published by not-so-traditional publishers. One book, by the business website Quartz, offers a unique take on the hardbound book, while the other by the Catalan master Jordi Savall, combines the book form with two super audio CDs.


The Objects that Power the Global Economy is the first print book published by the Atlantic Media digital property, and is now available through Amazon.

I assumed, before I received the book, that it would have also been printed through Amazon as part of its CreateSpace platform, one easy way for many magazine and newspaper publishers to get into print book sales. But that is not the case here, and one look through the pages of The Objects will make the reason obvious.

The book, printed in Italy by Grafiche dell’Artiere, features many inserts and a couple fold outs. One section, The Power of the Millisecond, was “brought to you” by Qualcomm.

In all there are ten sections that look at objects “largely invisible to the ordinary observer, each driving a radical change in the global economy.”

The second section is labeled Reefer, and refers to the invention of the refrigerated shipping container, not the late afternoon smoke. It is a good choice to make when explaining otherwise ordinary things that have transformed commerce. The great Berkeley wine merchant Kermit Lynch, for instance, was the first to make sure that his wines, hand selected from small French producers, made it to California is the same state as when he first tasted the wine in the caves of the winemaker (he also worked to convince his winemakers not to filter the wines for the American market).

“Quartz’s Objects reimagines storytelling about business and the global economy for print,” the company says of its project. “In Objects, readers can mine bitcoin by hand, explore a fold-out map of all the satellites orbiting the earth, and study a periodic table of the elements necessary for new technologies. Objects includes contributions from business visionaries like Bill Gates. Each chapter contains stories and interviews from around the world, interactive data visualization, and lush original artwork by globally renowned photographers, illustrators, and designers including Mathery, Fanqiao Wang, AnNam Young, Cait Oppermann, and one anonymous North Korean painter.”

The concept and editorial direction is credited to Caitlin Hu, Quartz’s geopolitics news editor, and Lauren Brown, special projects editor for Quartz.

The book’s first run, announced in September, sold out in two weeks. You can order the book yourself ($35) through Amazon or through the Quartz website here.

While Quartz’s first book is from a US-based publisher, but printed in Italy, the latest book-CD project from Jordi Savall is strictly as Spanish (or Catalan, if you will) project.


Savall is now 76 and has produced well over 100 recordings, but in the past decade or so he has regularly produced major projects that have been published as book-CDs. The first of these was Don Quijote de la Mancha which featured music from the late 16th and early 16th century.

His latest proeject is Venezia Millenaria 700-1797 and will be officially released on January 12, though one can order and receive it now direct from Alia-Vox, Savall’s label.

As the name implies, Savall’s newest project looks at the great Italian city of Venice, telling its history and importance via the pages of the book, and its music through its two CDs.

Like all of Savall’s book-CD projects, it is an impressive piece of artistry.

Some of the book-CDs have, at times, felt a touch academic, others are pure joys to listen to as music (my favorite being his Albigensian Crusade project Le Royaume Oublié).

These book-CDs are available as MP3 downloads, but acquiring the works this way would be to miss the book experience, complete with historical backgrounds on both the music and the subjects explored.

If you love music, and you love to read history, these projects are not to be missed and well worth the investment (these beautiful book-CDs are not cheap, but at between $30 and $60 they are definitely worth every penny).

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