I can’t tell you where I was when word first came out that Bentley managed to produce a book about itself that costs more than $250,000, perhaps because my eyes were so far rolled back into my head that I couldn’t see my surroundings. But I can tell you that I thought someone else on the Jalopnik staff was writing about it, and that I planned to never see it again. I was wrong on both accounts.
Alas, someone needs to ask the question, so I’ll do it: Who is this for?
Bentley announced its new “Centenary Book” a couple of weeks ago, which comes in three flavors of expensive that range from $3,780 to $252,318, which are, you know, cash amounts that could buy real cars. The three versions range from absurd to astronomically absurd, with the $252,000, seven-copy “100 Carat Edition” book getting a literal 100 carats of diamonds and a white-gold Bentley badge.
Buyers can also choose to have their names put on the book covers in gold or silver if they want, because many people feel that deep of a personal connection with the brands they funnel money into. The poors just wouldn’t understand.
Bentley managed to produce nine chapters and 800 pages about itself within the gold-adorned bindings, which is saying something, considering that the book is nearly a meter wide when opened.
It covers everything from company history to future development, along with subjects like “Performance, Design, Rarity and Craftsmanship, as well as Innovation and Extraordinary Customers”—all capitalized just like that in Bentley’s announcement. That bodes well.
The book introduction is by fashion designer Ralph Lauren, because putting “Ralph Lauren” on anything automatically makes it more expensive, and Bentley calls its new masterpiece “much more than a coffee table book.”
Um, yeah. Anything that’s a meter wide when opened and weighs 66 pounds is more than a “coffee table book.” It’s a damn witch’s-lair cauldron-table book that makes a loud thumping sound effect when opened—probably erupting in the same theatrical cloud of dust, too, because this isn’t exactly the kind of riveting, dog-eared novel a person picks up to read for the fifth time in a row.
Even still, the target market here seems, well, up in the air. Is this thing for dealerships, to impress buyers strolling through the showroom after their visit to the nearby Rolls-Royce display? Is it for Bentley executives whose identity revolves around the brand? Or is it simply for customers, who feel so connected with Bentley that they go buy a steel-reinforced table just for their new book?
Either way, that’s enough of that, mainly because my eyes are starting to roll back again and I soon won’t be able to see to finish my workday—the workday that may, perhaps, one day, allow me to afford the rhinestone-bound knockoff of this book with Bentley’s Wikipedia entry printed on glossy paper.
What a glorious day that will be.