The other day I received an email announcement from Mud Luscious Press, which is run by newly anointed NewLights author J. A. Tyler. The announcement was for the new book in their Nephew chapbook series, Meat Is All, by Andrew Borgstrom. It caught my attention for a few reasons: 1) the cover, shown above, looks great, 2) the excerpt available is weird & interesting, and 3) the edition, or the mode of production-distribution of it, was described as: “This book will be available for 90 days or until 150 copies are sold, whichever comes first.”
I was intrigued by this idea, so I wrote to Mr. Tyler asking him to explain a bit more. Here’s his response:
We take orders for our Nephew titles for either 90 days (max.) or for 150 copies (max.) and we don't print the book until we have reached one of those two points. This allows us to guarantee that we only print exactly as many copies as are ordered (zero waste, more effective production cost structures) and it also allows us to guarantee buyers that even if a title doesn't sell out immediately, they will be waiting a maximum of 90 days to receive their books (not a bad wait time for a pre-order of an exclusive title).
Then I asked him how they were actually making these books, and he said:
Our printing is done by our regular Mud Luscious Press printer, facilitated by David McNamara at Sunnyoutside - this printer allows us to do runs as small as 25 copies and as large as we like (David is fantastic!).
That’s a damn smart & practical way to handle the production of a book. And the idea of a time-based edition could yield other interesting results. Speculation aside, this approach is a concrete example of the way that new printing technologies (print-on-demand, digital presses capable of quality printing and short runs) and new distribution the technologies (the Internet) are changing the ways that small press books are produced. This kind of approach would not have been possible (at least in this streamlined of a form) 10 years ago. These kinds of innovations and changes are extremely important. And it helps to reinforce my conviction that this is the most exciting time to be engaged in textual culture since Gutenberg made that crazy invention of his.