The book was all about mobility. Bringing knowledge to the people. Today books are available everywhere, yet there remain challenges; not all books are equally popular and some audiences remain stubbornly out of reach.
Enter the Bookmobile.
Projet MOBILIVRE BOOKMOBILE project was a touring exhibition of artists books and zines, housed in a 1959 Airstream trailer, that traveled across the US and Canada from 2001-2005.
Now the founders have regrouped to make a BOOK about the project in true D.I.Y. fashion. They have launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to print it. Pre-purchase a copy of The Bookmobile Book for $35 until February 19th!
The Bookmobile Book is being designed by Cecilia Berkovic, edited by three of the project’s co-founders: Courtney Dailey, Onya Hogan-Finlay and Leila Pourtavaf.
I caught up with Onya Hogan-Finlay by Skype from LA and asked her a few questions about the project.
RL: The Bookmobile was a very successful project. What do you hope to accomplish that the original project didn’t already?
OH-F: The motivation behind the Bookmobile was to share the experience of having a real book so it felt consistent now to want to produce a real book. We met people who had been involved in the original project during the art book fair in L.A. and that just re-ignited the passion we felt at the beginning.
RL: Art books struggle in the marketplace, or perhaps it’s better to say that the market is small though dedicated. Won’t the Bookmobile Book be speaking only to this relatively closed art world audience?
OH-F: Sure the art community is insular but the original project broke through a lot of barriers and we are in the process of getting back in touch with schools, community centres, artist-run centres as well as public galleries and museums that the Bookmobile visited in both Canada and the US and the response has been fantastic. A lot of those places were off the beaten track. There’s a lot of excitement. Donations have been wonderful, particularly in the States where people seem to understand better that cultural projects can’t happen without their individual support.
RL: Do you have any thoughts about reviving the Bookmobile?
OH-F: No, it was a moment and the relevance isn’t there now. People access books very differently today.
RL: What about other publishing projects?
OH-F: Today publishing online, for example through blogs, has more currency. My art practice is socially oriented and for a living I am teaching.
The Bookmobile Book will feature essays by Jon Davies, Andy Cornell & Lauren Jade Martin, Isabelle St. Amand and John Hartmann with artwork by Ginger Brooks Takahashi (as seen in the Alien She exhibition). Nostalgic diary entries, hilarious comics and fantastic photographic contributions from the project’s Tour Guides will also be included along with images and selections of bookworks and zines from the BOOKMOBILE’s collections.
Using Kickstarter to fund a book is a brilliant idea: for years I have been saying that the best (increasingly only) way to publish books is to pre-sell them. If you know your audience and are able to reach them, then they should be willing to put up the money by pre-ordering.
The investment, and risk is all in the marketing work instead of in the creation and production work. Maybe that’s not where creators want to put their efforts, maybe the risk/reward equation doesn’t really work there.