[-empyre-] HYBRID BOOKWORK, Week Two - Paradoxical Publishing, Postmedia, Critical Aesthetics

domenico quaranta quaranta.domenico at gmail.com
Fri Feb 14 09:07:13 EST 2014

Dear Michael,

thanks for your reply and your questions!

> That said, something about your move into becoming a publisher appears
> to be informed by your wider concerns with the location of art today,
> something you've written about in terms of the so-called digital
> divide between media and contemporary art practices

of course, any time you start producing content of any kind, you do it
because you see room for that - to fill a hole, so to speak. In Italy,
there is very little literature about art and new media, and just a few of
the books I enjoy in English are translated, often quite lately. That said,
Link Editions publishes mainly in English for an international audience
that have access to a wide literature on this subject. What I felt was
missing, and what the "Clouds" series is trying to offer, was a fast
translation of the vast literature we experience online in the shape of a
book. Most of what we read today is on a screen. Sometimes, a blog post or
a short essay published online has a stronger impact than a book or an
article on a printed magazine. But the web is fluid, permalinks decade,
retrieving content that we forgot to save, archive, tag or post to Facebook
is hard. A book - be it a paperback or a digital file - is more reliable;
it lasts longer, and can be quoted years later.

> how you've seen these works received in different contexts? Do these
> publications end up in unexpected settings and contexts? How far and
> wide do they travel to reach diverse audiences? Perhaps you've got
> some interesting stories and insights here.

One of the faults of working online is that you don't hear stories, you
just see facts and figures. I can tell you that the books have been
downloaded and bought from all over the world, mostly from the US, Europe
and Australia, and that the proportion between free downloads and sales is
more or less 1:10; I can tell you that bookstores don't like to buy from
Lulu - so they don't buy our books, even if we offer them to buy at
author's price; but the only feedback I get comes from people that bought
or downloaded the books, when I meet them. Also, it's funny when I make a
presentation and say "you can buy the paperback or download the book for
free" - many people still look at me like if I was an alien...

> Some other quick follow up questions: Link Editions seems to have been
> born from an archival impulse; to what extent have, for instance,
> libraries acquired print copies of these publications? Is that
> something you're interested in pursuing? Have you also considered
> feeding back this publishing momentum into print distribution for
> galleries or more specialty bookshops beyond the Lulu.com platform?
> Would it make sense to do so?

It would definitely make sense, even if it has been, so far, quite hard to
do. We don't have the budget to buy copies and send them to selected
bookstores or galleries, and we can't do donations to public libraries, but
we suggest to do it to people that download our books for free (a strategy
we learnt from Cory Doctorow). It has been possible for specific
publications, though. The F.A.T. Manual was co-produced with MU, Eindhoven
and supported by XPO Gallery, Paris - they both have copies for sale. Soon,
you will be able to find some Link Editions books at Eyebeam, New York.
Hopefully in the future we will work more on this.
Talking about the archival impulse, of course you are right. But it's not
just about libraries - I think disseminating the digital file goes in the
same direction. When I think that only 100 copies of "Peer Pressure" have
been sold, but some thousands have been downloaded, I feel that this book
is somehow "safe". I know, you don't always read what you downloaded, but
you always store it somewhere for later reading. Maybe at some point people
will start donating their old Kindles and Kobos to public libraries - and
they will accept them.

My bests,
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