Making Your Own Books

I’m doing a weekly column, called “Provisions DIY” (every Wednesday), for Provisions Learning Center’s blog. This week, I talk about printing your own books via Apple’s iPhoto Books and Lulu. I use the example of BCP! Bitmaps, a two-off book that Peter Sugarman made, one for me, one for him. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

A few weeks ago, a package arrived in the mail. It was from my friend and long-time collaborator Peter Sugarman. Inside the mailer was a handsome gray and white portfolio box with an Apple logo on it. Inside of that was a gorgeous hardbound black book called BCP! Bitmaps. BCP!, or Beyond Cyberpunk! A Do-It-Yourself Guide to the Future was an electronic book (done in Apple’s HyperCard program) that Peter and I (along with Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing, Jim Leftwich, and others) did in the early ’90s. Peter had gone through the entire e-book (called a “Stack” in HyperCard parlance) and extracted all of the B&W 72dpi bitmapped images, along with some evocative cyber-dada statements we’d peppered throughout the stack (e.g. “Art is not a mirror. Art is a hammer,” “You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard,” “Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?”).

With these images and text, he made this amazing coffee table art book using Apple’s iPhoto Prints service. I’d heard friends (including Peter) raving about this service in the past, about how easy it was to use and how amazing the finished products were. It may take holding one to appreciate just how tasty it really is. The materials are first rate. On this book, the matte black cloth cover, the thick woven silver end papers, the glossy black internal pages, the print quality — it’s all top notch. Everything about it feels like it’s a high-end commercial product, not a two-off (as is the case here).

But like everything else with Apple, this level of quality and style doesn’t come cheap. The books are US$30 for the cover and the first ten pages, and $1 for every page after that. This book cost about $50 to produce. There are cheaper paperback and wire-bound versions available. And when you think about, the price of commercial hardbound books these days, this really isn’t that expensive. If you’re an artist who wants to do a small-run special edition book of your work for a show or similar situ, you could easily sell a volume like this for $60 or $70 (or more) and it wouldn’t be overpriced (by current market standards).

Read the rest here…