Last week Proboscis got back a delivery of PPOD books commissioned by Cosmo China in Bloomsbury, London. The book commemorates 20 years of Cosmo China and its artists. The shop was begun by Josie Firmin and Christopher Stangeways and produces handpainted ceramics. During it’s lifetime three of Josie’s sisters have painted china for Cosmo (and continue to do so!) as has Josie’s dad, Peter Firmin, who’s perhaps better known as the creator of Bagpuss along with Oliver Postgate.
Pages for Josie Firmin and Peter Firmin from Cosmo China PPOD book
For the anniversary of Cosmo China 20 artists were asked to paint a plate and the book celebrates these special plates and the artists who created them. My favourite part of the book though is the front cover which uses the new attribute of bookleteer that allows you to have a full-cover image and features an illustration of the Cosmo China shop front.
The PPOD book is going to be sold in Cosmo China however because it was made on bookleteer you can download your own copy from diffusion.org.uk.
Here at Proboscis we are very excited by the quality of the new PPOD service we’re offering users of bookleteer, but we also recognise that there are still economic barriers to people wanting to break into publishing their own eBooks & StoryCubes. Despite our ground-breaking service offering low-run printing (from only 50 copies per title, much lower than the industry standard of 500 or 1,000 copies) this still requires bookleteers to pay up front for printed versions of their eBooks & StoryCubes. Our aim is to open up publishing with bookleteer by removing as many of the traditional barriers as possible.
With bookleteer you can currently create shareable eBooks and StoryCubes that you can send or allow people to download anywhere in the world at no cost; you can also have high quality professionally printed & bound versions made. Our pricing for this has been set to make it as affordable as possible, so that users can sell on their printed eBooks/StoryCubes and add their own profit margin. But, for many people, the cost of printing even just 50 copies might be more than they can afford or justify on the basis of anticipated (or hoped for) future sales.
In trying to resolve the puzzle of how to allow people to use bookleteer not just to create things which they pay for, but which also allows them to earn money from their creativity, we’re now researching a concept for a crowdfunded marketplace. What we’d like to implement in the future (possibly in the beta version later this year) would be a bookleteer marketplace where the users can submit their eBooks and StoryCubes (either individually or a series / collections). We imagine that the user will set the retail price of the publication, add an ISBN number (if they have one) and set a target number of sales to be achieved before the publication will be printed via our PPOD service.
The marketplace would be public for anyone to browse and, using some kind of crowdfunding platform, pledge to buy a copy or copies of the eBooks/StoryCubes. Payments from buyers would be held in escrow until the sales threshold is reached and the printing and shipping of the publication triggered. At that point we would transfer the creator’s share of the sales to them (minus our printing & shipping costs). If there aren’t enough pledges within a given time frame to trigger the printing, then the buyer’s money would be returned to them. This approach, also called threshold pledging, would reduce the risk to both creator and buyer.
We are just at the very beginning of developing this concept and its going to require more resources and expertise than are currently available to us to actually turn into a reality – however we would really like to know what other people think of this. We’d love to hear from anyone with experience in building crowdfunding systems or using crowdfunding platforms to see if this is possible and what the average ratios are of successful to unsuccessful targets being reached.
We’d like to think that this idea could make it possible for anyone to be able to create a publication and have it professionally printed and bound without having to find the money to do so up front. With bookleteer they would be able to make the Diffusion eBook PDFs available for people to make their own handmade versions, then choose to buy the PPOD version (thereby economically supporting the creator). In this way we could create a whole new generation of publishers, crossing economic as well as cultural divides, allowing more people to find different ways of sharing their ideas, stories, knowledge, artworks – whatever they value and wish to share.
Last summer I collaborated with James Leach (Anthropology Dept, University of Aberdeen), Lissant Bolton and Liz Bonshek (Ethnographic Dept, British Museum) to help document the visit to London of two people from Reite village, Papua New Guinea – Porer Nombo and Pinbin Sisau. Porer and Pinbin had been invited to come to the British Museum to help identify and provide information about hundreds of the objects from their locality which are in the BM’s collection. It was an amazing privilege and an education to spend time with them watching how their knowledge of their world was rooted in a multi-sensory memory, triggered as much by touch as by seeing. Several eNotebooks were completed which were immediately scanned and printed to make further copies for Porer and Pinbin to take back home with them, and were published on our diffusion site.
On Sunday (June 20th) I got an email from James asking if it was possible to have some copies of the eNotebooks we made last year printed up via bookleteer’s PPOD service for him to take to Reite village on his next trip to Papua New Guinea in July. I just had to remake the scanned-in versions into new eBooks with bookleteer (which took about an hour for all 4), and I then sent the eBooks to press first thing on Tuesday morning. In a super quick turnaround time, I collected the printed versions this morning (Friday 25th).
Porer & Pinbin’s visit was part of the larger Melanesia Project, a conference for which happens next week (June 28th & 29th) at UCL’s Anthropology Department. We’re looking forward to sharing the printed eBooks with colleagues there and getting their feedback and ideas on using bookleteer and the eBooks as innovative ways to capture and share field work, both with each other and with the communities they work with and study.
We’d love to hear from other anthropologists and ethnographers (and any other disciplines too) interested in using bookleteer and the eBooks as creative and shareable notebooks for fieldwork – please get in touch.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been imagining more uses of Diffusion eBooks and StoryCubes, partly inspired by the family and personal eBooks created by our two Future Jobs Fund placements, Karine and Shalene, and partly with the help of Niharika Hariharan, a designer from Delhi (and former intern at Proboscis) who’s been in London recently. Last year Niharika designed a series of bilingual eBooks for a schools workshop in Delhi, Articulating Futures, which Proboscis co-designed and supported.
Earlier this year, in a Pitch Up & Publish event with We Are Words + Pictures, the eBooks were used by a couple of writers to create simple portfolios of their work to show prospective clients/commissioners. Over the years Proboscis has also used both the eBook and StoryCubes formats to create publications that present our work in a similar way. We’ve now come up with two ideas for using bookleteer to create highly personal eBooks about who people are and what they do, Pocketfolios and MeBooks.
We began by thinking about how we remember work by art, design and architecture students at graduate shows (often by collecting business or postcards) and how, looking back, sometimes it can be hard recalling why we might have collected someone’s details without a connection to what caught our interest in the first place. But what if there was a way for the students to give away something like a mini portfolio of their work? What if they could use bookleteer to create simple, yet beautiful, ‘pocketfolios’ with more details about them and their work?
Niharika has designed posters which we’re sending out to colleges to invite students to test out bookleteer for creating highly personal ‘pocketfolios’ – we’re also offering a 10% discount (using the discount codes on the physical posters) for students who want their pocketfolio(s) printed via our PPOD service. We have also developed another set of posters which we’ll be sending out to studios to invite makers of all descriptions to explore bookleteer and the Diffusion eBooks as a way to create personal or product-based pocketfolios.
A couple of weeks ago I took part in a meeting at Islington Council for employers participating in the Future Jobs Fund where there was very positive feedback about the young participants gaining in skills and confidence. However the mentoring and follow-on advice being offered seemed to lack inspiration for much else beyond CV writing skills.
It occurred to me that bookleteer could offer something quite different – an adaptation of the Pocketfolio idea that could be made relevant to people from all walks of life and in different job types and sectors than the arts or design. A personal narrative about them – their story, or MeBook – that could act as a portfolio of their skills, experiences, ambitions, hobbies and interests, what they’ve achieved and what inspires them. Something that helps them describe and share what they feel is the best of themselves that a CV simply couldn’t cover.
We’ve been brainstorming how we might do this (also with input from Karen Martin, resident bookleteer and Proboscis associate) and hope to have a workshop piloted in the next few weeks. I’ve recently met with staff from Islington Council as well as Judith Hunt and her team from Get More Local to hear their feedback on how this could benefit other young people on the Future Jobs Fund and other schemes. Watch this space for further announcements!
We would love to hear from anyone else involved in similar schemes who’d like to offer the MeBook idea to their placements/interns/trainees. Please get in touch to find out more.
Our first batch of POD eBooks arrived and we’re very, very pleased with the results:
We’ll be sending out some samples to various friends, colleagues and bookleteers, meanwhile we will start accepting orders for POD eBooks & StoryCubes from April 12th. See the prior post on POD for our initial prices.
Last week we passed another significant milestone for bookleteer – integrating a new set of templates that automatically render each eBook into a Print On Demand (POD) version. We’re sending the first 12 samples to be digitally printed as full colour A6 saddle-stitched booklets today and will post up some photos as soon as we get them back.
We’re also announcing our initial prices for the POD service (see below) which we hope will meet with approval. There are two POD options for eBooks, with a minimum print run of 50 copies : Option A – for eBooks between 12 – 24 pages and, Option B – for eBooks between 28 – 40 pages.
Option A prices start from around £3 per copy and go down to £1.61 per copy. Option B prices start from around £4 per copy and go down to £2.29 per copy.
All prices include shipping within the UK. Please contact us for enquiries about larger quantities and overseas shipping. Turnaround time is expected to be 5-7 working days.
The StoryCube POD service has a minimum print run of 200 full colour cubes (single or double-sided), which can made up up of one or more StoryCube designs. Prices include VAT and shipping within the UK. Please contact us for enquiries about larger quantities and overseas shipping. Turnaround time is 5-7 working days.
Get in touch if you’d like to know more – we aim to start accepting POD orders after Easter.