Indie Publishing: How to Design & Publish Your Own Book, the newest title edited by Ellen Lupton for Princeton Architectural Press, has already proven to be wildly popular — indeed, it's already in its second printing, the first sold out almost immediately upon release. Lupton has been the Director of the MFA Graphic Design program at Maryland Institute of College of Art since 1997 and is the author and/or editor of a multitude of books published by P.A.Press: The ABCs of Triangle Square Circle: The Bauhaus and Design Theory, D.I.Y. Design it Yourself, and Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors & Students. With these books, she's proved to be expert at crafting accessible titles about design and now, with the help of a few contributors, independent publishing. Many artists dream of publishing their own book, but most do not know where to start. If you have the money, a workshop can take you from start to finish for a few hundred (or thousand) dollars. If not (as is the likelier case), the best option is self-education. In Indie Publishing, Lupton and her contributors lay out a basic overview for the beginning book producer and cover nearly every step of the process.
For those not directly involved the industry, some of the language surrounding publishing needs to be broken down. Right from the start, Lupton dispels the grand myth that the term "publisher," in the more traditional sense of the word, is interchangeable with "patron." In some rare cases this might be true, but Indie Publishing presents how to deal with the often inevitable situation in which you will need to plan your own book and the freedom and expense associated with this decision. The self-publisher will often play multiple roles, including financier, distributor, marketing agent and accountant. Although there are many benefits in going with an established publisher (if they do not require a personal investment from you), self-publishing ensures complete control over the project.
Indie Publishing, edited by Ellen Lupton. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2008.
To absorb the enormity of the undertaking, the new publisher needs a guide. Possibly the most valuable section of this book, 'Production Basic,' is tucked away on page 116. The handy flow chart in the beginning of this section titled 'How Will You Produce Your Book?' could read as a table of contents: What is your budget? — refer to page 20. Have I made books by hand before? — see page 127. The author of the 'Production Basics' section, Joseph Galbreath, makes sure to point out that "Book design is an art." Your local bookstore displays a multitude of good and bad design decisions, so a designer should be chosen wisely. As a book, Indie Publishing, edited by a designer, is a wonderful example in itself.
Also covered in the design section is 'The Anatomy of a Book'. This information is valuable to the working process, and will prevent ignorance when interacting with the designer, printer or binder. In working with a traditional printer, Galbreath presents POD and conventional printing choices, how to get a printing estimate, selecting inks and paper, submitting files, and planning for press check. Immediately following this section is the exploration of handmade books, including incorporating technology with these manual efforts. This section will help the publisher with the most important decisions in the process: how and where, if to start and, most importantly, when to stop.
For those interested in book terminology, Indie Publishing is replete with visual definitions of almost every aspect of 21st century publishing: anatomy of a copyright, color laser printing, anatomy of a bookstore (anatomy seems to be a favorite word of Lupton's), stab binding, multiple signature pamphlet, and on. The authors have included a complete bibliography and list of additional resources. Indie Publishing appeals to a wide audience, useful for a scrap booking grandmother, a fiction writer or a new gallery publishing their first catalogue. It is not an encyclopedia of contemporary book publishing, but it is the most complete introduction on the subject available today.