Library of Artistic Print on Demand: Collection and Research

Print-on-demand has revolutionized the world of books. As analogue-digital hybrids, PoD books epitomize the post-digital age. Digital printing and low-threshold online platforms like Blurb, Lulu, and Kindle Direct Publishing in principle allow anyone to publish work immediately across the globe without the need for any financial investment or risk. This opens up space beyond the classical book market and helps democratize production. At the same time, the new scope this offers is contingent at a fundamental level on the specifications and interests of the platforms. This dynamic has given rise to an entire subculture that is once again probing the medium of the book in search of possible content, aesthetics, materiality, economies, and publics, while at the same time critically reflecting on and negotiating our digital present.

With 244 items, the Library of Artistic Print-on-Demand maps this experimental field for the first time, exploring its global spread, historical depth, and political relevance. All publications are documented extensively in a web archive, accessible via www.apod.li. They are also preserved in physical form by the Bavarian State Library. A detailed catalog including essays by key practitioners and thinkers of the field will be published by Spector Books in 2024.

The official handover of the collection to the Bavarian State Library took place in November 2023. This will also mark the end of the research project, which was carried out between 2019 and 2022 at Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg and was funded by the German Research Foundation. The Library of Artistic Print-on-Demand was led by Andreas Bülhoff (hi@abue.io) and Annette Gilbert (annette.gilbert@fau.de).