NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 29

Design Today-2

Limited Edition; Independent Books of Edition Taube

Kambiz Shafei

With the advancement of print technology and its increasing availability, printing and publishing books in small runs have become more popular than ever before. Also the increasing number of websites featuring artists’ portfolios, raises the question of how an artist’s book can be produced and distributed differently? Perhaps self-published books were not taken as seriously in the past, where this medium was considered to be better suited for students rather than a professional’s approach to publishing new books. But today’s publications—in limited copies—enable young designers and artists to present their work and ideas to a specific audience without the pressure of the complex book market at large.

Limited edition books can be published in approximately 100 copies and produced independently with relatively small budgets. Considering the limited circulation of these books, thinking outside the box, when it comes to production and distribution, becomes possible. Most independent publishers are either founded by graphic designers or have close ties to a graphic design studio.

Independence and freedom in design and conception—which does not come by easily in the book industry—is the most significant advantage of smaller publishers. Using production techniques such as silkscreen, use of special papers and unconventional bookbinding techniques give a unique feel and look to some of these publications. Most books of this kind will never be published after their first edition is sold out, making them an exclusive item. They tend to be sold either through the internet or at select stores.

Among the European independent publishers, there are a handful of those that work in a very creative and professional manner. One of these successful publishers is Edition Taube: a publishing house for contemporary writing and fine arts books, founded in 2009 by Jonas Beuchert, Tilman Schlevogt and Jan Steinbach. The books and zines of Edition Taube cover a wide range of topics, including photography, art, writing, design and exhibition catalogues—all of which are produced in small runs. Some of their books, such as Less than one minute ago… by Jonas Beuchert, are entirely handmade.
The best-selling book of Edition Taube is Confessions of a Poor Collector, which to this day has sold more than 1,000 copies. This book is a reprint of a booklet written in 1970 by Eugene M. Schwartz (1927–1995), following a lecture he had delivered at the New York Cultural Center. In Confessions of a Poor Collector, Schwartz proposes a number of instructions on how one can build a worthwhile art collection, by spending the least amount of money possible. When he passed away in 1995, he was one of the most important collectors of post-war US paintings; and upon his death, his collection was donated to Museums such as MoMA and the Whitney in New York City.

Marie Jager’s Time Islands is another successful book in Edition Taube’s collection. The book acts as a topographic catalogue of time: divided into 39 time-zones and one zone per page. It features illustrations of land, with a reference to standard time and space, thereby depicting a different world order. Time Islands has a total of 41 illustrations (including the north and south pole), along with an index of all of the countries it features and their locations in this atlas. The first 20 issues were also accompanied with a limited edition, silkscreened map of the seas—“Les Mers”. Marie Jager is an artist based in Los Angeles and Paris.

The advantage of independent publishers like Edition Taube is that by collecting the works of young and enterprising artists, they are able to be the first to introduce them to a specific audience. Also, this is something that the artists may not be able to achieve on their own. By bringing their work into one platform, a network of readers is shaped and at the same time these readers have the opportunity to get to know the up-and-coming talents. In fact we can compare this with a small art gallery, which creates an environment to introduce talented individuals to the art community.

Kambiz Shafei

Kambiz Shafei is a Swiss based Iranian graphic designer and photographer. he graduated from the Basel School of Design with a MFA degree in visual communication (HGK/UIC). In 2010 Kambiz founded Studio Shafei in Basel, Switzerland.

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