Art Book Printing for Sound Artists

How does art book printing for sound artists work? Tristan Perich‘s 0.01s: The First 1/100th Second of a 1-Bit Symphony is a perfect example. When I receive a quote request for book printing, I usually have no idea what a book is about, but I can generally tell if it’s a trade book or an art book just by the specs and title. With 0.01s, the title, the large and unusual trim size (7-5/8″ x 10-7/8″), and the large page count (696 pages) were my first clues. So I Googled it (I have learned a lot of great trivia by Googling book titles and reading about folks such as Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, for example—thanks to the University of Toronto Press for that one) and found this description on Physical Editions:

0.01s captures the inner working of 1-Bit Symphony over the first hundredth of a second after it is switched on. In just 0.01 seconds, its processor executes 80,000 computational cycles, enough information to fill a 695-page book with austere tables of numbers and machine language, becoming a visual meditation on the internal mechanics of computation.

This was in April of 2014. Tristan and I went back and forth on the ideal specs for a while. He looked at printing 0.01s as a paperback,  a hardcover with a dust jacket, and a hardcover with a printed case. I also printed test pages for him—he sent me a sample PDF file of about ten pages—and I then had an even better idea of what kind of symphony this would be. I was a music major in college for a while (bassoon) and played my share of contemporary music, but 0.01s really is pages and pages of numbers. You can listen to a part of it and hear Tristan talk about it on Vimeo, and I strongly recommend checking it out—it’s really interesting, and the CD jewel case that you actually plug your headphones into to hear the symphony is amazing!

I sent back to Tristan samples of his file printed on our Ocè VarioPrint (600 x 1200 DPI at a 125-line screen) and also samples of his file printed black ink only on our Xerox Docutech (2400 x 2400 at a 200-line screen). And of course, we printed the sample on a few different paper stocks: coated matte and gloss white stock at 80- and 100-lb., and uncoated white stock at 60-, 70-, and 80-lb. Tristan decided on a paperback with the interior printed on our Océ VarioPrint on 60-lb. white. The cover is a nice clean white, black-ink-only on 12-pt. C1S stock with lay-flat matte lamination. Tristan also had us insert seven charcoal gray “end sheet” papers throughout the book as section dividers. It’s a really handsome book!

The final files came in at the end of October and we shipped books in November. Tristan has since had events, such as the one at Printed Matter in New York, where he discussed the original symphony and his process for turning it into a book (a.k.a. “Printed Matter”). From Tristan, about working with Bookmobile,

With 0.01s, the main concern behind fabricating the physical book was that it communicated its ideas properly and elegantly. For an entirely b&w conceptual art book, this meant high-quality materials and printing. And at 696 pages, it also meant good binding. Bookmobile was the only short-run printing company I found that was interested in a high quality product at a good price. Nicole was quick to send me various paper samples, and even did print tests on multiple pages and cover stocks so I could choose the best match. (And their production came in ahead of schedule.)

It has been great working with Tristan, and I hope he needs a reprint soon. Or perhaps he should publish the remaining hundredths of seconds? It’d make an impressive collection.

Want to know if we can print your art book, sound art, or other new and interesting project? Contact me!