One of the things which has been bugging me is how to get an audience for my linen book. Although I have been able to produce a lower cost version of the book, my original idea of placing copies in tourist office along the Irish border is now a non-starter due to Covid-19 restrictions.
I am trying to think of something other than just an online presentation of the book via video. Apart from the impossibility of representing the haptic qualities of the book, everything seems to be online at the moment. There is a risk of online presentation fatigue I think, and with so much work online it would be difficult to get noticed.
One thought I had was to make a zine. This has the advantage of being a physical object but, unlike a book, it could be produced cheaply enough to selll cheaply or even give away. The downside of course is the quality of reproduction of the photographs. I have been wedded to the idea of reproduction of the photographs on linen because it is part of the concept: the linen industry serves as a metaphor for British colonial domination of Ireland. But printing on linen is expensive and the books have to be hand-made.
I was talking to my bookbinder when I picked up my linen book, and asking her about possibilities and what kind of bindings she could do. We talked about perfect binding, and I was surprised how cheap it was in reasonable quantities – say 100 books. This gave me an idea. If I was to print the photographs myself I could achieve a better quality compared to a zine. The the text pages I could print myself because I was already doing that for my linen book.
I went through an exercise of sourcing low-cost paper for a book – photo paper, translucent vellum and plain paper. For the photo paper I chose matte as it would produce the highest level of detail – my images are high resolution for printing large, so if I print them small I want to take advantage of the level of detail present. Size-wise, I decided on A4 because this is a standard size, likely to be fairly low cost because it is produced in high volumes. This would also be a practical size book for posting while allowing reasonably large images to be included.
This concept still left out the factor of printing on linen. How could I include this metaphorical aspect in the book? I hit upon the idea of positioning the A4 book as a replica of the linen book. This has three advantages: a) it allows me to refer to the linen book and therefore include the introductory text about the linen industry which much have seemed superfluous otherwise; b) it allows me to point out that the original book was printed in Ireland on Irish linen – again maintaining the metaphor; and c) by referring to the existence of the linen book it provides publicity for that book.
For the cover I managed to source a card with a linen finish, so that there would at least be a. nod to the haptic qualities of the original book.
The result is that I have been able to produce a low-cost version of my book which retains the metaphorical references of the original and has a high quality of reproduction.