It's Jason Fisk Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of his new book for the center, the "micro-story" collection Salt Creek Anthology, I'm happy to say that there is now a special handmade paper edition available as well as the usual electronic versions, the first time in CCLaP's history in fact that a paper version has been available from the very first day of a book's release. In reality it's the second release of the center's new overall "Hypermodern Editions" series, special high-quality paper editions of all of the center's electronic books, designed specifically for collectors but reasonably priced for all those creative-classers like me on tight budgets; and unlike the other books that will eventually be in this series, Salt Creek comes not bound with hand-done Coptic stitching, but literally spineless within a fabric-covered handmade box with decorative interiors, in that this is being released "hyperfiction style" which means that you can literally just shuffle the manuscript like a deck of cards and read it in a completely random order each time you pick it up. Like I've done with other Hypermodern Editions, then, I thought I'd post a little photo essay today along with everything else, showing step by step exactly how I made the customized boxes that each manuscript ships in.
But first, if you haven't checked out that previous photo essay, you'll want to do so to see the very first steps of this process, the measuring and whittling down of the giant bulk sheets of material I buy from Hollander's in Ann Arbor, Michigan; this beginning photo above starts only after that process, showing the surprisingly large number of pieces that go into making just one of these handmade boxes.
After that, then, starts the gluing process, which begins the same way as the other Hypermodern Editions, gluing then pressing out the main wide boards that will serve as the book's front and back "covers," along in this case with the spine that will hold the two sides together. I then stick that into my homemade book press (i.e. a stack of heavy coffeetable books off in a spare corner of my kitchen) and let it dry for 24 hours before anything else.
The next day, I'm ready to cut up the side flaps into the shapes that will eventually curl around the walls of the box; then it's time to actually glue the walls into place, six pieces altogether that each require these incredibly nuanced measurements (down to a sixteenth of an inch) in order to eventually fit together correctly.
The board-to-board pieces take just a few minutes to dry into a working solidarity; then you use your fingers and your folding bone to get a nice tight wrap around those pieces with the fabric flaps on all four sides. As with the other Hypermodern Editions, I've learned that there is a fine art to knowing exactly how much glue to use in this process, how best to finesse your material into a bubble-free adhesion, etc; it's literally a matter of practice making perfect, and I've come to understand that there's a very good reason that handmade books seemed to be the exclusive purview of cloistered monks for something like a thousand years.
Then finally, it's time to glue in the decorative paper that makes up the box's interior, the same kind of material that makes up the endpapers of the stitched Hypermodern books; but since this paper literally goes out to the edge of all four sides, and since every single handmade box has just the slightest difference in measurements, it's actually necessary to take each individual interior sheet and hand-mold it with an X-Acto knife into the unique shape of that particular box. There's a reason that so many people seem to be responding so positively to these Hypermodern Editions this year, I think, and that's exactly for a reason like you're seeing in this step -- that there's a level of attention to detail and individuality in a process like this that's simply missing from a mass-market paperback, and that doesn't exist in the first place with electronic books, however convenient and inexpensive they may be.
And that's it; another couple of days of pressing and drying, and it's finally ready for its cover photo and inside guts. Anyway, I hope you liked this look at how one of these special paper editions of Salt Creek Anthology comes together; and of course, if you're feeling inspired, I encourage you to actually purchase a copy as well, available to just about every CCLaP reader on the planet and mailed out the next business day after your order (delivery in two to three days for Americans, seven to ten days for everyone else). Or if you've been wanting to make a substantial financial commitment to the center for a while, I hope you'll think of purchasing a 2011 subscription, which for $100 gets you cotton copies of all six Hypermodern Editions the center is putting out this year (Mark R. Brand's Life After Sleep, already available; Salt Creek; Sally Weigel's Too Young to Fall Asleep, available July 11th; Ben Tanzer's 99 Problems, available August 1st; the anthology American Wasteland, available September 11th; and Katherine Scott Nelson's Write Me Back, available October 15th), plus free shipping, in total a $150 value. Your long-term commitment to CCLaP helps the center quickly pay off the debts it's accrued starting up the publishing program (including the purchase of a new laserprinter, paper-cutter, and lots of other tools, as well as several hundred dollars more every few months for supplies like board, fabric, paper, glue, thread, staples, ink and more), plus gets you six amazing books over the next six months, so I do hope that you'll give it some serious thought.