Books On Demand is an exhibition of illustrated books produced using print-on-demand services. Also exhibited are some of the prototypes and experiments created through my design process.
Print-on-demand services allow anyone with a computer and credit card to quickly and cheaply self-publish a book. The process is simple: the publisher (in this instance, me) uploads digital files (PDFs of the internal pages and cover) to an online platform (the printon-demand service provider). Then when someone orders a book, a copy is printed, bound and delivered to them, anywhere in the world. The publisher receives royalties from the print-on-demand provider. Print-on-demand has caused a boom in independent publishing: this quick, inexpensive, and less wasteful production model allows new or niche publishers to break into the market.
Broadly, my research investigates the evolution of the book in a digital age from a design perspective. More specifically: What new opportunities do digital production technologies (such as print-on-demand) afford publication designers? What happens when designers are consulted in earlier (project development) stages of the publishing process? How could a designer’s particular understanding of word-image interplay and materiality alter the way books are conceived, designed and produced?
Books On Demand is the first iteration of an ongoing research project. The exhibition reports on a series of projects (the exhibited books and the collection of prototypes that led to their production) in which I address these questions through commercial and experimental design practice.
The twelve books were produced using a variety of different print-on-demand formats and service providers, testing the range of publishing options available. Some were designed specifically for POD production – Analogue Bodies (2014), Words from the First Walk (2013), the Viva La Novella series (Seizure, 2014) – and others have been reformatted as POD books – Birds with Smutty Names (2012); A Poetics of the Naughty (2012), and; Writer’s Typewriters (2011).
An annotated catalogue documents the design and production process behind each book, and makes clear what is gained – and what is lost – using this publishing technology. Catalogue available for purchase via Lulu.