The death of print media may have been long foretold, but books and magazines produced by luxury brands are still very much alive, healthy and growing. Many of the best-known houses have their own magazines, publishing them up to four times a year. They also release books to commemorate milestones, such as exhibitions or anniversaries.

“Rendez-Vous is a simple but beautiful way to communicate with our customers and collaborators across key markets while offering a space for creative expression,” says Chaumet chief executive Charles Leung of the jewellery house’s own magazine. It debuted in the 1990s and was rebranded with its current title in 2016. “It is also the perfect platform to present annual thematic high jewellery collections.” Aside from the magazine, which is available in Chaumet’s boutiques and is distributed to clients, the Paris-based brand has stepped up its publication of books, to mark the launch of annual high jewellery collections and exhibitions, for example.

Chaumet published three books in 2023 alone: one about its high jewellery; another about drawing from nature; and a third at the end of the year as a “bible of the house”. The brand even published a pop-up book for children that chronicles its most celebrated tiaras and their connections to famous love stories.

“A book provides an everlasting reference that allows us to detail history, design processes and innovations,” says Leung, who considers publishing an integral part of the brand’s communication strategy and an ideal way to showcase its identity. The jeweller has made its books and magazines available for everyone to read, along with a free coffee, at pop-up kiosks in China.

Cartier and auction house Sotheby’s also produce magazines, which feature both brand-related news and articles about arts and culture in general. At the beginning of this year, Sotheby’s hired Kristina O’Neill, editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal magazine, to overhaul its publications.

Claudia D’Arpizio, senior partner and head of fashion and luxury at consultancy Bain, notes that luxury groups are known for their storytelling prowess, and sees books as “an essential component of the entertainment strategy” they offer customers. “They act as a springboard for these companies to shape culture and express their brand story, philosophy and values in a comprehensive, artistic manner, allowing them to establish deeper emotional connections with consumers.”

She also points out that luxury groups are making strides in the entertainment industry. At the end of last year, the Pinault family’s holding company, Artémis, which has a controlling stake in luxury group Kering, acquired 53 per cent of Creative Artists Agency, one of the world’s biggest entertainment and sports agencies. Meanwhile, this year, LVMH announced the launch of 22 Montaigne Entertainment, a platform that aims to capitalise on audiences eager to watch stories about its 75 brands.

“Books provide a platform for these companies to collaborate with renowned artists and writers, thereby enhancing their brand image while also making significant cultural contributions,” says D’Arpizio.

Prosper Assouline, co-founder of publishing house Assouline, which specialises in producing coffee-table books favoured by luxury brands, says books are a form of advertising. “A book enables brands to do what they cannot do with traditional advertising — which is often limited to a single picture, which is typically perceived as impersonal,” he says. “Our goal is to reveal the essence of the brand while also creating an emotional experience.”

Assouline is often commissioned to create glossy tomes for brands under a variety of financial agreements, which sometimes require companies to purchase a set number of copies. Among these publications are the 340-page Codognato Masterpiece, about the eponymous Venetian jeweller established by Simeone Codognato in 1866, a book marking Buccellati’s centenary, and another about Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York.

Assouline says the number of books dedicated to watches is also gathering pace. Among recent publications is Patek Philippe: The Impossible Collection, an ultra-luxurious 212-page volume priced at $1,200, and Bulgari: Beyond Time, the first book the Italian house has dedicated to its rapidly expanding watch collection.

Benjamin Voyer, professor of behavioural science at ESCP Business School in London, sees publications as not just part of brands’ communications strategies but another type of accessible product, like the perfumes and make-up from Hermès. “Books serve the purpose of enhancing a brand’s visibility and appeal to a broader audience,” he says. “But, just like a lipstick, they are a more affordable way to own a product from Dior or Chanel.”

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