With an emphasis on computerized design and workflow; increased use of digital, on-demand and cross-media output; and populist—indeed, personal editorial standards, modern book publishing bears little resemblance to the craft practiced a generation ago.
Some in the industry worry that the joined-at-the-hip crafts of publishing and printing are epochs approaching an end. In the future, anyone with an Internet connection and digital cash will be able to publish a nice looking (and, hopefully, nice reading) hardbound, softbound, or e-book.
One, some, or all three. Readers will buy them online, for an e-pittance, in numbers unthinkable today, along with the classics, pop titles, textbooks, New York Times best sellers, kid's books, and a seemingly infinite backlist of every conceivable title ever written.
The craftsman and their crafts of old will continue to exist in this new era—as part of a lesson plan on 15th and 16th century publishing technology taught at colleges and universities around the globe.
The computer and robo-factory will have attained their manifest destiny, completely automating the process of accepting manuscripts, spitting them out on demand, bar coding, shrink wrapping, co-mailing—effectively merging publishing, printing, and perhaps even distribution into one.
Against this fantastic yet stark backdrop of increasingly commoditized, self, electronic, and in-plant publishing, two passionate, slightly eccentric photographers set out to create a fine art book.
One that would do more than simply decorate coffee tables, or elicit a few oohs and aahs. One that would prove craft still matters; that a small group of dedicated, passionate, skilled human beings can produce a book measurably superior in virtually every aspect to anything high tech has to offer.
No detail escaped their grasp. No aspect was too small to fret, argue, cogitate, research, or lust over, or travel afar for. From the cover to the binding; to the paper and the screening; to the ink, color matching and digital tweaking; to the binding and binding components, to the photography.