Having found the Guest Lecture by Victoria Forrest on creating books very helpful, I decided to attend another lecture about producing books in a more individual way, by Lukas Birk.  I did not know quite to expect from Lukas but it was very inspirational for me and gave me ideas for producing less commercial and more interesting volumes.

Lukas started by saying that not all projects work as books.  This was interesting as most of us aspire to seeing either the written word or photographs in print in some shape or form.  He asked How do I want to tell my story?  Again a very important question and one which I need to answer before I move forward with my product.  At the moment I am in two minds as to whether to see the book as a celebration of my work on the MA Photography or more as a launchpad to future opportunities and projects.  What I am clear about is that it can’t be both.

Three key questions all related of course.

  1. What’s the purpose?
  2. What’s the audience?
  3. What’s the price?

For example, the price will depend on your audience – is it high volume or luxury and individual?

In an electronic era, when so much is available on-line and many of the younger generation don’t buy or experience physical books anymore, it was reassuring that according to Lukas the virtues of the book remain – everybody can navigate a book – it is an “easy conveyor”.

His clear advice was that the only way to make money in the book market is to produce special editions and he proceeded to provide us with examples of his own work where he had done just that.

He talked a lot about producing dummies for publishers.  Dummies provide a means to think about the page layout, formatting and size and shape choices but it is also important to make it special through the hand made route and adding something special which may be a cover or particular paper.  He emphasised on many occasions that the book needs feeling and materiality – it needs to be tactile and it is all about the cover.  He suggested that it is possible to print on canvas using an inkjet printer and there are many tutorials on how to do this on-line.  He also uses an embossing machine to make the cover more individual.  He creates about 20 dummies of a book and then sells them, with special editions priced at 250 euros.  Lukas then develops the dummy with new ideas for the concept which morphs into a new dummy.

Lukas’ words really resonated with me and led me to start thinking again about a handmade book solution for my Final Major Project.  A few weeks ago I had purchased a book entitled Making Books: a guide to creating hand-crafted books by the London Centre for Book Arts and this was a useful prompt to do some more research.  Lukas reassured us that it is very easy to produce a book, to use Japanese Step Binding which is very easy and we can access cheap cardboard and paper.  He also suggested ways that we could improve the quality of our books such as by taking out the staples on cheaply printed zines and stitch with thread.  Also making an envelope for the zine or small books improves the quality.  He warned against using Amazon and bookshops who can charge commission of 40-60%.

A fellow student also advised of good workshops being offered through:


which turns out to be the same organisation that produced the book I bought on the Isle of Skye.

During the week I also had a conversation with a commercial book designer who provides a complete service from start to finish – concept, design, print and distribution.  She reassured me that producing a book within the time I have left for my Final Major Project is do-able but I would need to have a clear idea about the book by the beginning of September, with images completed by the 7 October and sign off and send to print by 4 November.  She agreed to produce a quotation for me based on a small square book, 32 pages and 50 copies printed in the UK.

And finally, my tutor mentioned the Newspaper Club to me, based in Glasgow, producing zines and newspapers at competitive prices.  I have ordered some samples in order to consider the quality and approach in terms of my own work.

Whichever way I decide to take my book production I need to think more about the purpose of the book and the concept.  This in turn, relates to the development of my images for my Final Major Project Portfolio.



London Centre for Book Arts. 2017. Making Books. London. Pavillion Books Company.




Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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