In all my years growing up surrounded by examples, I never once gave thought to precisely how the book was defined. It would have seemed like a silly question, really. It’s only in relatively recent times I have come to the realisation that, to paraphrase a classic television commercial from my childhood, books ain’t books. By accident of history, we have applied the same word to pop-up illustrations for children, lavish art and architecture hardcovers, compendiums of home cooking recipes, telephone directories, multi-volume encyclopaedias, historically significant works of literature and poetry, and fun and exciting works of entertainment and pop culture. What we call a ‘book’ has always been loosely inclusive. The only common element to these kinds of content is the object through which they’re distributed: paper, ink, thread, glue.
It was a definition of convenience. After all, the magic of a book has never resided in its ink and paper (though they aided greatly in its portability). No one becomes a lifelong reader because of their love of offset printing. Each of the kinds of content listed above fulfilled a different need: some were served well by ink and paper, others perhaps not so much.
At about 11:30 am on Tuesday 12 June, a group of writers surrounded me at my desk, handed me a glass of sparkling wine and took photos while I desperately copied a group of hyperlinks and emailed them to my colleague at a desk three metres away. Shortly before that, I’d been uploading ebooks to the if:book website and felt a pang of completely unexpected emotion. Uploading files had never felt so weighty before. Within about an hour, a photo would appear via Twitter of a print copy of the same book visiting Times Square and I would end up in a sad approximation of a human pyramid.
Thanks to everyone who took advantage of the free ebook download of Willow Pattern in the last 24 hours. The downloads came thick and fast and we’ve loved hearing reactions and feedback from around the world.
On that note, if you manage to ferret out some errors in the text that our heroic, but human, editors (bless) missed. Contact us and we’ll make it right. That’s digital publishing for you!
So we’ve now closed the free downloads (sorry if you missed out) and we’re working on getting the book into retails stores both physical and digital. We’ll keep you updated on our progress.
In the meantime, the print edition can be ordered from an increasing number of locations, initially in the United States, but we will keep adding more from around the globe as they come online (we hope to include an Australian location too). Find one close to you and get ordering!
UPDATE November 2012: We’re still getting a lot of traffic to this page, which is amazing. What’s not amazing is that we have no link to purchase Willow Pattern from here. You want to see what nine authors, ten editors, and whole lot of support and technology can produce in a mere twenty-four hours? Follow this link.
Well, it’s been a crazy race around the clock face for the team here at if:book Australia. Nine writers, ten editors, one designer, a slew of bloggers, volunteers and coffee-bringers, and PressBooks, one amazing digital publishing platform, and somehow we have managed to produce a book. Not just write and edit one, but design and publish it in print and ebook form in 24 hours. A little less than 24 hours actually.
And here it is…
Willow Pattern, written by Nick Earls, Krissy Kneen, Steven Amsterdam, Angela Slatter, Rjurik Davidson, PM Newton, Geoff Lemon and if:book’s own Simon Groth. The book was lovingy shaped (also beaten, bullied and lectured to) by lead editor Keith Stevenson, and an amazingly energetic team of editors from QUT Creative Industries. And given a beautiful set of clothes by designer Benjamin Portas of Kids in Cloaks. Here’s some info about the whole team.
Willow Pattern is available for you to read right now!
These formats are available for download for FREE for 24 hours from this website, before it is distributed commercially to Amazon and other retailers.
Read the print book
The picture above comes courtesy of Queensland author Robert Hoge who was present to collect the very first print copy from the Espresso Book Machine at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York! Rob and our partners at On Demand Books snuck into the library out of hours to help us bring this book into the world with fifteen minutes still to spare on the 24 hour deadline.
You will be able to purchase your own print copy from various Espresso Book Machines around the world, including Australia. We’ll be updating this purchase page with new print outlets as they become available. For right now, you can order a print copy by emailing the Brooklyn Public Library EBM (firstname.lastname@example.org) or indie bookseller Powell’s (Powells@ondemandbooks.com) The print edition is available for USD $12.95