Last summer we began implementing a series of updates and new features to bookleteer.com, Proboscis’ free self-publishing platform for creating and sharing hybrid books and StoryCubes which exist in both digital and physical formats. Alongside these developments, we devised the Periodical as a new way to nurture and engage a creative community with Bookleteer and what it offers.
For more than twelve years now, Proboscis has been exploring ever more conversational forms of sharing stories, knowledge and experiences – always seeking to make work that is reflective and inspirational, neither a full stop nor the last word. The form of the book and traditional publishing – requiring lengthy processes of commissioning, editing, design and production, not to mention financial capital – seems so often to be an end point in a creative process. The finality of the published word, of the authoritative edition, is underscored by the exclusivity of the mainstream world of publishers, editors and writers.
The Periodical is meant to be a vehicle for people who feel empowered to respond, not just to read; people who are inspired to make their own publications as ripostes, as new tangents or simply because they want to share their own stories, experiences or creations. We see the potential of publishing to be an emergence; an iterative, disjointed and evolutionary hubbub flowing across the digital and physical worlds we now exist between. The Periodical harks back to the 17th Century’s age of dissent and non-conformism, of the commonwealth of ideas and human spirit.
Each month, we select at least one book made and shared on bookleteer to be printed using our Short Run digital printing service and posted out to subscribers. The first issue was printed and shipped in October 2012, with subsequent issues in November and December. Subscribers receive physical copies, whilst we also make the digital versions and downloadable PDFs for hand-making copies available to everyone on bookleteer’s the Periodical library page.
The Periodical is deliberately eclectic and eccentric. There are no specific themes, and anyone can participate simply by creating and sharing a book of their own on bookleteer and adding it to the selection pool of potential publications. Creators of selected publications receive 25 printed copies for their own use. The Periodical is not an exclusive club – whilst subscriptions are critical to cover the costs of printing and postage we will select publications from all those shared on bookleteer, not just those by subscribers. Interested in taking part? Read the Manifesto of Sorts for more details.
As we build up the subscription base I am also hoping to start commissioning additional eBooks which will become part of each month’s issue. These may be part of collaborations and projects Proboscis undertakes with other organisations or sponsors (please get in touch if you’re interested in collaborating with us or sponsoring a series) as well as independent series in their own right. Our first mini project along these lines is called ‘Field Work’. Each subscriber is sent a blank printed ‘eNotebook’ made with bookleteer to fill with their own sketches, notes, pictures etc and return to us for digitisation. We will upload the scanned eNotebooks onto bookleteer, and from time to time will print and distribute particularly inspiring ones as part of the Periodical.
Meanwhile, we are also enclosing copies of previously printed books from our archive, enabling subscribers to rapidly build up a collection that demonstrates the breadth of material published using bookleteer. As we move through the year this will range from poetry, short fiction, fantasy, critical writing through to visual art and photography works. Not to mention experiments in making books programmatically through the bookleteer user API.
Subscription prices have been set deliberately low – just covering the costs of printing and postage for twelve monthly publications. The UK subscription works out at about £2.50 a month, not much more than than proverbial cup of coffee (albeit a fancy London-priced latte). There’s also a 10% discount for subscribers on Short Run printing costs – making it possible to quickly recoup the cost of a subscription when printing your own publications.
Why not check out what we’ve issued so far and sign up for a free account at bookleteer to take part yourself?