Collection and Research
Print-on-demand is a new production method based on digital print that has revolutionized the book world. Allowing for very small print runs down to one single copy the availability of book titles no longer requires a physical stock — in contrast to traditional print runs. This has fundamental effects on the production of printed matter and its contents.
Contemporary experimental artists and writers who have adopted print-on-demand publishing praise the method's low financial risk, creative autonomy, and independence from trade publishers. They embrace it as a means of self-empowerment and democratization—although (or, maybe, precisely because) it has been discredited by the literary establishment as a vanity enterprise and by book lovers and designers irritated by its low production values. Drawing on some of the most notable examples of the genre, this research project investigates how print-on-demand facilitates an astonishing variety of forms and aesthetic approaches and how it functions as a critical media practice that continues avant-garde, underground, and counterculture traditions and also responds to our post-digital age in compelling us to re-conceptualize our understanding of the book and publishing.
Our collection of artistic print-on-demand publications is a curated library but open to submissions. It will be preserved in future years as special collection in the Bavarian State Library, a leading German library. It will be an important resource for the study of print-based experimental publishing, art and literature in the post-digital era.