This is a long article in english, the translation of this recent post in French : 360 in 372, in which I’m writing about my book project. It’s a new project that brings my round the world travel to conclusion.
Three years ago, I started a big adventure that ended a year and a week later. It was a travel around the world, a kid’s dream that brought me to Mongolia, in the Andes, in Tokyo and New York City. I shot 5,000 pictures on film, and thrice as much on digital, a blog with tens of thousands visits ; three travel journals filled to the brim with train tickets, foreign coins, bills ; a hundred postcards sent, dozens of new friends and lots of memories in my head.
A rough draft
When I came back I started to think of the way I could make the project evolve : I’d have to organize all the stuff I brought back, classify and order it in the pages of a book so I could share the experience with my friends and family. A lot of people have followed my travels through my blog, and I’m thinking some other readers could enjoy reading amazing stories, incredible projects and travel journals.
A year-long travel is a huge thing. You need time to land and take a step back, then some more time to get back deep in the raw material : pictures, journals, memories…
For the last few months I’ve been working as a freelancer. It’s the perfect opportunity to work on this project.
the battle plan
I want my project to be authentic.
The travel lasted for a year, and got me to live a lot of adventures. I could never communicate but a fraction of these, and this fraction would still be gigantic. All the preparatory work was to select, edit, classify the stuff I brought back. My book needs to mirror the rhythm of the travel and the diversity of the experiences, with an emphasis on the richness and depth of these. I could print a series of 20 pictures without any link between them except for a common theme of “travel”, but it wouldn’t give justice to everything I’d like to share.
I had to aim high, way high.
A page spread per day. This should be quite a big book1.
Each spread will have various contents according to the day : a lot of pictures or not even one, drawings and paintings and sketches from the postcards I sent, blog texts or notes from my journal, even the daily selfportraits I shot, links to online contents… all of these will be arranged in an original manner, one day following the plan of a city, the next day displayed as a panoramic, playing with shapes and colors, contents and texts… I’m a graphic designer, I might as well have fun with the project!
The book would then be available on paper, as well as digitally (PDF, web…). The real-life book would cost more, of course, but the digital opus wouldn’t be as beautiful and smell as good.
At first, the book would be in French, but half the texts are already translated, so it wouldn’t be too long to get it in English.
a work in progress
These last two weeks, I’ve worked hard on the book… or at least a part of it, covering my stay in the Philippines, Korea and Japan. 42 days, from February 26th to April 9th, 2010.
The preparatory work has allowed me to try a few things on various formats, the type of texts and visuals I’d want to include, the visual identity and codes, the composition… This time has been productive and I’m starting to be quite satisfied of the results. The images displayed in this article are from my preparatory work.
What should I do now?
Simply put, I’ll just have to find a deal with a publisher, then I’ll make the rest of the book, it’s printed and sold and you can buy & read it.
It’s not simple at all, actually. One of the numerous reasons is that the publishing world has been in recession for the last few years, fewer people buy “beautiful books”, especially when you can see them on the Internet. My project is very ambitious, and might not be commercially viable : you don’t see lots of big books in bookstores, and there might be reason to that. It’s a risky bet : a “big” publishing house might not want a single-shot project from an unknown author ; and a smaller publisher might not be able to support financially the printing/stocking/distribution of such a behemoth of a book. I’d like to be wrong though, after all I don’t know the publishing world that well…
I also thought of auto-edition. Looking at the scope of the project, I don’t have an answer yet. Blurb would not do with the specific format of my project (440 pages max) and I’m not a big fan of the paper/printing quality. Financing a first “small” run with French Kickstarter equivalents like KissKissBankBank or Ulule could work, but I’d have to improvise myself as a publisher, which I’m not. It would also require a big sum of money to finance that, much bigger than the micro-sponsoring scheme that helped me travel.
These are the questions I’m starting to work on, these days. I’ll try to meet with people who can help and advise me on the path to printing that book. If you know people who work in publishing, in the media, in the travel industry, I’m interested : email@example.com
All the images come from the book preview I’m working on. These might change as the project evolves.
372 spreads = 744 pages. Add to it the travel preparation and a few more pages, you get to a big volume of 760 pages. A big fat monster book. Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s book 365 jours pour réfléchir à notre Terre is around that size, is 2” thick and weighs about 5lbs.
And to complicate things, I want it to be a 10” square. If such a book is printed on 115g/m2 paper, it will weigh about 6lbs. Which is a lot, for a book. ↩