Creative: Map-Making

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This is a beautiful book. I just visited one of the best photobook stores in the United States, and I could easily see this book living in that environment. If the economics were right. Or, I could see these authors eschew that traditional route and blaze their own path, which they already have. I’m late, as usual.

Now, up front. There were issues printing this book, on Blurb’s end. I want to mention this for several reasons. First, I am always honest about what works, what doesn’t and the fact that, from time to time, things will go sideways. Really sideways. This happens with Blurb and every other printer/publisher I’ve encountered in my ten years in my current position. You have to be prepared, for the good and the bad. I want to compliment both Charlene and Eileen for their patience, which I’m sure was tested. I pains me to write this but it must be mentioned.

Now, to the book.

The photography and poetry are beyond solid, and when I say “solid” I mean GOOD. The images are consistent and personal. Not sure what else I could ask for. The book blends the poetry of Eileen Chong with the images of Charlene Winfred who happens to be a Fuji sponsored photographer based in Singapore and someone I’ve mentioned here many times before. This is my first experience with Chong’s poetry, but it won’t be my last, and this poet has a long line of books and accolades to her credit. A line I heard at a recent talk about nuclear energy…“History is what already happened but poetry is the promise of what might happen.” These are uber women who will crush you and I.

Uncoated stock, hardcover, Imagewrap. Full bleed images, and a design that is simple yet readable and doesn’t get in the way of the images, which remind you that the photographer is real and not just a phone snapper. This book reminds me A LOT of Memories of a Dog by Moriyama. A good thing.

But wait, there’s more. This book is interactive. As you can see, the cover is wrapped in a string which the viewer unties. What’s revealed is a handwritten note, with insanely perfect handwriting, as well as a tipped in print. Yes, a print. All wrapped in brown, crafty paper which I love. Smart, smart, smart. Now, this little addition was for me but I think it would be a GREAT addition for all the books in the series. I can’t tell you how different it makes something feel when the object contains something unique. This is one reason why I like doing very small runs. Print, customize, sell or giveaway and then MOVE ON.

Damn I wish I could feature books like this all the time, but not enough creatives are taking advantage of the power they have, so for now I’ll make do with what these folks have delivered. Great job all around and sincere apology for the printing issues. Please do more projects…..

Comments 15

    1. Post

      Yes, they did a 100-book run and it was sold out before it began. LOVE this technique.

    1. Post

      Yep, I believe it was sold out even before it was printed, but I could be wrong about that.

    2. Larry, yup, we never got to actually sell the book. A call out to our respective networks to express their interest pretty much saw all 100 sold out in the first few days. Was surprised, and definitely happy about that!

  1. Dan,
    You did not say what the issue was, but your photos of this book, especially the cover, exhibit the same problem I have had with printing B&W with Blurb. I have managed to get pretty neutral B&W printing from Blurb on the internal pages, but I have given up on B&W photos on a cover. I know they use different digital presses for the covers vs the pages.

    1. Post

      You are looking at quick digi snaps of this book. This cover is neutral. I just took it outside and inside to verify, but you shouldn’t have difficulty getting neutral covers. I went back and looked at a few other books, including one from eight years ago, and they are all neutral. All of the books, unless you go offset, are done digital, both cover and internal pages. There is a pretty good color management page on the Blurb site in regard to getting neutral black and white. Having said this, neutral black and white for a color print is a difficult task. Still.

    2. I had no issues with color at all David. In that respect, it was perfect, and most of the photographers I’ve personally delivered the book to have expressed much appreciation at how beautiful an object it is.

      The biggest issue we had with printing was the alignment on full bleed pages. There were slight margins where none were meant to be. If I hadn’t chosen to do full bleed spreads, this project would have been easy. I gotta give it to Blurb’s Large Order Services team though. They worked tirelessly to resolve issues and meet our deadlines, which we are incredibly grateful for. Kudos!

  2. I’m late with this Dan, but THANK YOU for such a great review of the book. No stoppage in making things, although most of these things will never see the light of day. I’m really happy with how the book turned out in the end, despite difficulties. I laid the book out entirely in Bookwright, and kept it as minimal as possible, to give our work the space it might not have had, if we’d gone down the traditional route.

    As Eileen writes in the Introduction: “May you find your own ways through Map-Making, and experience for yourself the shifting representations of Singapore as we have examined from our different perspectives over the years.”

    Pretty happy considering it’s my first published work (although Eileen’s got a tremendous roster of books under her belt). More’s definitely coming, although mine will probably never be seen by the public. Though I will say, this small run experience has been a good one, and is worth further thought.

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      Most of what I do never sees light of day either, but it sure it fun, and frankly I think these projects, the private ones, are more important than the public ones, at least in some cases.

  3. I had a little trouble with full bleed pictures in a trade book, there were some very slight margins but only on some copies. There was maybe 1/16th of an inch variation across a run of 10 books.

    But you know, it still reads as “full bleed”, the impact of the page isn’t altered substantively. It’s one of those things that I’m gonna notice, it’s gonna bug me, but nobody else will even see it.

    I am the opposite of a perfectionist.

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      Must be an epidemic. I haven’t had border issues in a long while but I did just do another new magazine……there still hope.

  4. Grateful for this review, Daniel, and for the input from photographers in the comments.

    This was a wonderful project to work on, marrying our respective passions. Thank you for all kind words regarding my poetry.

    1. Post

      You are very welcome. Really enjoy your work. My mom writes poetry, so will be sharing with her as well.

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