Last December we published Material Conditions, a set of eight commissioned books exploring what it means and takes to be a professional creative practitioner. Inspired by the title of a behind-the-scenes blog post which followed, we’ve added a new chapter to the series, continuing a discussion which seems ever more relevant in the current climate.
Material Conditions: Epilogue is both a companion to those books – for those who read it, for the artists involved – and, as a pleasant paradox, an introduction for those who are not familiar with them. Five of the original contributors – Sarah Butler, Jane Prophet, Karla Brunet, Janet Owen Driggs & Jules Rochielle and Ruth Maclennan – have created new pieces for this publication, as they look back on the series, reflecting on their book and those by the other artists. Far from mere commentary, these responses are works in their own right, and are as poetic and profound as the initial eight books.
It’s also the first publication to launch the Periodical, to suggest the kind of iterative and experimental forms we hope to see being made and shared with bookleteer. As Giles stated eloquently in his ‘manifesto of sorts’, we’re striving for publishing as conversation; despite the finality of its title, this book can be seen as only the most recent part of a process. Here’s hoping for more.
An eccentric monthly publication for an era of eclectic exploration
More and more beautiful, thought-provoking and inspiring eBooks are being created with bookleteer all the time so, with a nod to such illustrious forebears as William Hogarth, Joseph Addison, Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne and Charles Dickens we’re creating the Periodical, a regular monthly publication to share some of the best examples – from the most beautifully designed, illustrated and written to the most experimental uses of bookleteer, its API and what can be done with the format. Update : check out the new bookleteer Library page to browse what people have made.
For a small monthly or one-off annual subscription (see below), you can receive by post a different printed eBook each month crowdsourced from bookleteer. Our target is to launch the Periodical with at least 100 subscribers in October 2012, selecting and printing a new eBook each month for distribution. Whilst we build up the subscriptions we’ll be sending subscribers a choice eBook every month selected from among those we’ve previously printed for projects such as Professor Starling’s Expedition, Material Conditions, City As Material, As It Comes, Agencies of Engagement and others.
What Will Subscribers Receive? The Periodical will be a monthly delight landing on your doorstep – you can expect consistent eccentricity and eclecticism in our choices. We will be seeking out the most extraordinary and unusual eBooks created and shared on bookleteer. Some will be selected by us at Proboscis, others will selected by invited curators and from time to time we’ll invite subscribers to vote for their favourite eBook to be printed and sent out as the monthly periodical. Anyone who wants to take part can contribute a book for consideration for the Periodical by signing up to bookleteer, then making and sharing an eBook. Each month we’ll post on the blog about what we’ve chosen and why – but only after we’ve sent it out, so the subscribers have the pleasure of an unexpected arrival landing on their doorstep.
To kickstart the Periodical we’re inviting a number of our friends, colleagues, fellow travellers and others whom we admire to explore using bookleteer themselves and to create some new publications with it that will seed the initial pool of publications from which we choose the first few issues. We’ll announce more about these soon.
To complement the crowdsourced eBooks, we are also seeking sponsors to help us commission new experimental and imaginative publications using bookleteer. These will be printed and distributed to subscribers as well as shared digitally on bookleteer for all. We’re looking for sponsors who see the opportunity that bookleteer and the Periodical offer for commissioning exciting new experiments in publishing – sharing new ideas, new knowledge and experiences in multiple ways to people all over the world. They might be themed series in themselves (following on from our previous series such as Material Conditions, City As Material, Transformations, Short Work, Liquid Geography, Species of Spaces, Performance Notations) or simply a one-off commission. *** Please contact me for details of sponsorship opportunities.
Subscribing to the Periodical
You don’t need to use bookleteer or be signed up to subscribe and subscriptions from organisations and institutions are very welcome (email us with a purchase order to subscribe). The Periodical will be a great way to tap into the creativity generated with bookleteer, having some of its best creations delivered to your door.
Subscribers will also receive a 10% discount on any Short Run printing orders of their own (recouping their subscription by just ordering a minimum 25 copies each of 4 of their own eBooks).
Shi Cheng: Short Stories from Urban China, recently published by Comma Press, gathers ten fictions by writers from cities of varying affluence, nature and distance in contemporary China, not to mention the varying styles of prose and stances of the protagonists.
Dispelling the naive notion of a vast land of unified thinking, Shi Cheng (“ten cities”) tells not the comprehensive biographies of each city, but zooms in further, allowing the reader to connect with individual voices on an almost cellular level. Yet, as the editors suggest, when looking this close it’s possible that we can all relate to the universal human themes.
The stories collected here give a rich sense of the environments and their impact on modern men and women. Acting as cultural antennae, they send back vibrations of what life might be like for those in such places – alluring whispers of real lives. Keep a keen eye out for more from Comma Press.
Greetings, bookleteers. Thought you might like to see two books which have been published recently using our Short Run Printing Service.
Axis Design Architects have used bookleteer once again, this time for ‘Community Consultation & Neighbourhood Planning’, which showcases their work with residents during design processes (they even mention using our blank Storycubes during workshops!) as well as ‘BIM and the Affordable Passivhaus’, detailing a recent collaborative project.
Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination have also created this lovely book, entitled ’37 Shadows: Listening to children’s stories from the woods’ – a collection of stories gathered from class trips to a local park.
If you’re thinking of using bookleteer to create your own books, we’ve just slashed the cost of A6 printed books between 30%-50%, and our minimum print run is now just 25 copies. Check out the price estimator to see how much it would cost you. Get cracking!
After concocting a brilliant, Terry Pratchett inspired scenario for future book technologies to diffuse any stale printed vs digital debates, Harkaway outlines what he believes is the real manifesto for books:
“What is the future of the book? A physical object which communicates with the digital realm; a paper book which has an electronic shadow. A hybrid which sits easily in the on and offline world. ”
Allow me to highlight an intriguing new book by the recently established Influx Press, who specialise in site-specific fiction. ‘Acquired for development by… A Hackney Anthology’ is a collection of short stories and poetry inspired by the London borough of Hackney, penned by twenty-five established and upcoming writers.
It caught my interest as Giles and I have written a ‘speculative fiction’ piece for City As Material 2 (part of our collection of investigations, observations and musings on the cities we visited with Professor Starling, Dodolab and co, almost ready to go to print) which is rooted in distinct locations and events and informed by real-world experiences.
Despite all that flows in and out of these places over time – and indeed Hackney – they seem to maintain a certain character which influences those that live in them or pass through, seeping into creative works regardless of the author’s intent. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy, and will be keeping a keen eye out for the next offering from Influx Press.
Read a nice little interview they did with BookMachine here.
Let me draw your attention to a brilliantly written, striking piece which was featured in the Guardian a few weeks back. ‘Walking is political‘, by Will Self, is an edited version of his inaugural lecture as professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University, lamenting our increasing detachment from innate cognitive abilities when traversing the urban environment, and championing foot travel as a democratising force amongst spaces ever more dominated by corporate control.
Cue lengthy pause for breath.
Aside from being a fascinating read, it chimes with our aims for the City As Material series – to temporarily put aside our daily travel routines and concerns, the well trodden routes and second nature responses to familiar buildings and spaces, so that we may discover hidden facets of the city and in turn create work inspired by them. Instead of being blindly directed by technology, we use it to document our shared experiences, and evoke new forms of engagement with the places we live in and roam.
Speaking of which, we’re just in the process of finishing the books from City As Material 2. Stay tuned!
It seems that the posts tagged with ‘Pop-up’ on the bookleteer blog have been getting a lot of attention, so I’m reaching back into the Diffusion archive to satisfy you lot.
‘Tangled Threads’ was an eBook designed to act as a film storyboard, as part of Proboscis’ Sensory Threads project. Scripted by Karen Martin and Alice Angus, and illustrated by Mandy Tang, the book is a series of intricately rendered scenes and captions, but the real draw is how Mandy has incorporated pop-up inserts at the back which the reader can cut out and assemble, adding new layers of depth to the pages.
You can have a peek at the digital version below – minus pop-ups, of course – and read posts from Karen and Mandy explaining how it was made.
Download, make and read ‘Tangled Threads’ for yourself.
DOG EAR is a magazine in the form of a concertina bookmark, with ten slim pages of writing and illustration selected from online contributions. It’s available for free from independent bookshops and libraries (cunningly hidden between the pages of books to perk up surprised readers, I like to imagine).
I love the way the content must fit the unusual dimensions of the magazine. Rather than being a restriction, it seems to inspire imaginative uses of space, containing drawings akin to comic book panels, and flash fiction. There’s also snippets of funny overheard comments and quote-worthy status updates, the latter making messages borne on the most transitory of mediums appear more like transcribed responses from interviewed authors, or the one-sentence reviews that adorn film and theatre posters, simply by harnessing the fleeting digital in print.
DOG EAR reminds me of “reverse shoplifting”, where people plant copies of their books in shops or libraries – subversive D.I.Y distribution. I fancy the idea of self-publishing writers creating their own collections with bookleteer, then quietly slipping them into the bookshelves of esteemed literary establishments. Using any means to spread the word.
Guy Laramee has produced these spectacular sculptures carved from old tomes, excavating covers and pages to build intricate panoramas of natural landscapes and ancient structures. A wonderful paradox of taking away to create, they look as if they have been unearthed, rather than meticulously composed. Mountain valleys and steppes, an idealised japanese garden complete with tiny raked contours, temples set in gaping caverns. Stunning scenes that blur the borders of perception, liable to make you forget their source material – images that linger in the mind, formed not by words in ink, but by hewn layers of the very matter they are printed on.