Last year I received the good news that my PhD thesis, Bonfire of the Vanity Presses: Self-Publishing in the Field of Australian Poetry had been accepted by Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, meaning that I could start to go around calling myself a doctor (except in emergency situations on planes). To celebrate, I’ve posted the Preface below. Read on, if you dare …
covers: poems by nick whittock
(Cordite On Demand, 2004)
COD’s second book, by cricket tragic and librarian Nick Whittock, was a lot of fun to make. Nick wanted the book to be shaped like the old Footrot Flats comics. Once we got this in our minds, everything else flowed naturally and what you get for your buck is a strange, experimental and brave collection of poems about cricket and cricketers, including poem-title-of-the-century nominee, “Doosra Locomotion”.
However, as with Tom See’s book, the publishing experience was also full of ‘learnings’. Anyone who has published a book or launched something similar (eg a CD, an art exhibition etc) would know of the dreaded-worst-nightmare-situation when the thing to be launched does not show up on time. Unfortunately for Nick, this fate befell the first launch of his book, which was conducted sans product.
This was more than made up for, however, by a launch in Nick’s home town of Candelo in southern NSW, where we packed out the local cafe and had a great time.
OI: poewemz bii tom see
(Cordite On Demand, 2004)
Earlier this year, deciding that my life wasn’t nearly as busy as it could be, I set up an imprint for Cordite Press, known as COD, or Cordite On Demand. Its aims were pretty ambitious – basically a complete shake-up of the Australian publishing industry. While this is obviously still light years away and despite COD’s all-too-brief lifespan, we did manage to publish two books, the first of which was written by Melbourne-based poet and cricketer Tom Clark, under the pseudonym tom see.
The book was designed with the dimensions of a vinyl record single cover in mind, and the book was also notable for its great cover illustration (by Charles Lake) and its listing of the table of contents on the book’s reverse. We printed 250 copies, and I’ve got a few left. As this was my first attempt at publishing a book, I obviously learnt a good many lessons the hard way. The launch was great, though!
Nevertheless the process of publication was really fascinating and interesting for me – not least because we used the services of BPA, a Melbourne-based printer who offer digital printing, at a lower price than traditional offset printing. While I have my reservations about the pros and cons of POD as opposed to offset printing, this first book proved to me that it is possible to produce a good-looking book according to your own design specifications, and that it won’t necessarily cost the earth to get it printed.