Posted on

Scroll pricing explained

We have recalculated our prices. For some scrolls, nothing changed, others have become 2-5 Euros more expensive. We thought this was probably a good moment to give you a little insight into our pricing process. Why do our scrolls cost what they cost?

First of all, it is important to us that our scrolls are being read.
Of course, they are objects of art, but they are made to be scrolled through and experienced. This is only possible if we sell them at a price where readers still dare to do so. This is particularly true for our children’s books, which therefore continue to be our cheapest scrolls (apart from the notebook). At 27 Euros, we’re confident readers will still dare to just roll out the scroll once across the whole room. Not to mention that the paper is more robust than you might think.

Of course, we also want to be able to live from our work. To work in a small publishing house is a great luxury in itself, but bills need to be paid. And producing books by hand is quite time-consuming and expensive. We have exactly one (very large and very expensive) printer on which you can only print one scroll at a time. Then the covers need to be printed and cut, glued and folded. The scroll inserted, and if something goes wrong, it needs to get fixed. At least one hour of manual work goes into producing a single scroll

 

We want to be able to give our artists their fair share and it is important to us that they earn something from doing a project with us. Likewise, it is important to us to pay our bookbinders properly.

Overall, founding a small independent scroll publishing press has not made us rich – yet!

Incidentally, the price development on the book market is a huge topic overall. Fearing that fewer books will be purchased, book prices have hardly augmented for years, at a lower rate than the inflation. Even paperbacks, which are very cheap to produce, would actually need to cost more in order for publishers to have a reasonable margin. Think about how much a dinner or a visit to the movies cost and how much book you can get for that money. There’s got to something wrong …
Anyways, this is just an aside. Because if you want to compare prices, it makes a lot more sense to compare our scrolls not to mass market paperbacks, but rather to art books, art prints or other handmade design objects.

Recently, our material costs have risen again, especially those for paper and ink. This is reflected in our new prices. We still find them fair. We hope you also see it that way and continue to value our work. Because one thing has certainly not changed: A lot of love goes into every single scroll we make.

Posted on

Round not Square in Sjøland

A trip to the Sjøland exhibition at the Edvard Munch House in Warnemünde

We spent last weekend in Warnemünde for the opening of an exhibition of Sjøland. The perfect occasion to virtually pack the entire publishing house into one car for a trip to the Baltic coast. Talk about combining business with pleasure! We took the opportunity to hang out on the beach one last time for this year, eat chips, fly our kite and we even went to watch some seals.

The Edvard-Munch-House

We went to Warnemünde with the Sjøland artists Herbert Eugen Wiegand and Heike Schmitz at an invitation of the Förderverein Edvard-Munch-Haus, an association dedicated to cultivating the memory of the Warnemünde period of Edvard Munch. The Norwegian painter spent 18 months there between 1907 and 1908, and today, the house he lived in at the time is used as a space for cultural encounters between Norway and Germany — what a perfect setting for Sjøland.

The building itself was very much one of the highlights of our visit. It is a beautiful historical fisherman’s house, one of a series of narrow, small houses built “Am Strom”, directly on the river Warnow. The house charms visitors with its beautiful winter garden, a courtyard with a pear tree and a cosy little library that is just perfect for a small – or large! – collection of scrolls.

The exhibition

And then there was the exhibition itself … The graphic from the Sjøland scrolls is made up of 96 single linocuts of the Norwegian coastal landscape stitched together (more about the scroll editions on our website). Herbert’s original prints look beautiful in the long, bright main room of the Munch house.
We also brought along some framed art prints from Sjøland that are now also available in our shop.

 

The opening of the exhibition was very well attended, which obviously made us very happy. There was a cordial introduction from Petra Schmidt Dreyblatt, artistic director of the Edvard Munch House, then Herbert talked a bit about Harøy and the changes in the region that inspired him to work on Sjøland. Heike added another, literary level to those insights, reading from some of her texts on which the story in the scrolls Sjø and Land is based. And last but not least, Antonia and Ioan gave quick introduction of Round not Square and explained why some ideas – such as Sjøland for example – should just not be squeezed into a normal book, when they could also appear on a scroll.

How to visit

The exhibition runs until November 25, 2018. The Edvard Munch House is always open on Saturdays from 11:00 to 17:00. Visits are also possible by prior arrangement. Go there to scroll through all the Sjøland editions — or come visit us in our shop in Berlin, of course!

Posted on

Comics und Buchrollen

Was ist ein Comic? Wo fängt das Medium an und wo hört es auf? Die einen erkennen bereits in steinzeitlichen Höhlenmalereien die ersten Belege der Comickunst, für andere ist Wilhelm Busch der Gründervater des Comics – und dazwischen liegt eine riesige Spanne mit unzähligen Möglichkeiten. Doch all diese Fragen brauchen uns an dieser Stelle nicht weiter zu beschäftigen, denn was sich mit einiger Sicherheit festhalten lässt, ist, dass der moderne Comic, wie wir ihn heute kennen, seinen Ursprung in amerikanischen Tageszeitungen hatte.

Da Comics in den Tageszeitungen anfangs immer eine unterhaltende und vor allem komödiantische Komponente besaßen, gerieten sie schnell in die Ecke für „Schund” und „Kinderkram“. Natürlich sind sie viel mehr als das – trotzdem blieb dem Medium in Deutschland die Anerkennung, gerade im Vergleich zu Frankreich, Japan und den USA, verwehrt. Es gibt Comics, die sich mit wichtigen kulturellen und gesellschaftlichen Fragestellungen auseinandersetzen, den Lesern etwas beibringen, neue Perspektiven aufzeigen, Wissen und Werte vermitteln, Fragen aufwerfen oder auch einfach nur gute Freunde gegen die Langeweile werden. Egal ob heldenhaft, abenteuerlich, lustig, politisch, lehrreich, emotional, gruselig, dokumentarisch oder philosophisch; jedes Thema hat seine Daseinsberechtigung und erst diese Vielfalt verleiht dem Medium seine Tiefe.

Obwohl sich der Comic bereits Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts als eigenständige Medienform etabliert hatte, gelang es ihm nicht vollends, das Label der Schundliteratur abzustreifen. Unterstützung im Streben nach Anerkennung erhielt der Comic unerwartet aus einer ganz anderen Richtung: dem Film. Denn das Aufkommen der zahlreichen Comicverfilmungen lieferte dem Medium eine neue Aufmerksamkeit. Ein entscheidendes Puzzleteil dieses Umdenkens war sicherlich Christopher Nolans „The Dark Knight“ (2008), der auf der Liste der weltweit erfolgreichsten Filme aller Zeiten Platz 26 belegt (Stand: 22. September ’16).

Dass auch technische Entwicklungen die Genese des Comics beeinflussten, thematisierte Scott McCloud, selber Comic-Künstler und -Theoretiker, um die Jahrtausendwende mit seinem Werk „Comics neu erfinden“. In der zunehmenden Verbreitung des Heimcomputers und mit dem Aufkommen des Internets sah er das Potenzial neuer Gestaltungsfreiheit und etablierte den Begriff der „unendlichen Leinwand“; womit es ihm vor allem um digitale Comics ging. Durch den Heimcomputer war damals eine neue Art des Lesens angebrochen, die heute selbstverständlich ist, denn die Nutzer der Websites mussten nun „scrollen“, um sie zu lesen. Und wenn es möglich war, Websites auf diese Art zu gestalten, wieso dann nicht auch Comics? Ein Gedanke, der Scott McCloud zur „unendlichen Leinwand“ inspirierte. Die Vielfalt des Comics setzte sich also nicht mehr nur inhaltlich fort, sondern fand auch in der Auseinandersetzung mit den Grenzen des Formats statt.

Ein Künstler, der das Format der „unendlichen Leinwand“ besonders beherzigt hat, ist Daniel Lieske. Mit seiner digitalen Graphic Novel „Wormworld Saga“ (die er kostenlos zugänglich gemacht hat) setzte er praktisch dort an, wo Scott McClouds Theorie hindeutete – ein Comic, der das gängige Format aufbricht und durch seine unendlich anmutende Gestaltung im Lesefluss nicht unterbrochen wird.

Für den Comic ist also die Stunde der Freiheit angebrochen. Das Medium entwächst nicht nur dem ohnehin schon immer falsch gesetzten Label „Kinderkram“, es drängt förmlich in die Richtung der neuen Ideen und Ansprüche, der Freiheit im Denken, der neuen Plots und unverbrauchten Formate. Das gefällt uns natürlich. Und was bietet sich da mehr an, als die neuen digitalen Freiheiten auch physisch umzusetzen? Also arbeiten wir schon seit einiger Zeit an unserem ersten Comic, natürlich nicht alleine, sondern in Persona von Paul Rietzl. Im Herbst erscheint dann sein Werk „Shipwreck“ bei Round not Square als erster Comic auf Buchrolle; mehr dazu gibt es bald. Eine gewisse Aufregung lässt sich an dieser Stelle nicht leugnen und wir geben zu, dass wir mit unseren Buchrollen vielleicht noch ein Stück weit von unendlich entfernt sind – aber mindestens genauso fern sind wir dem gewöhnlichen DIN A4-Format.

Unter den folgenden Links könnt ihr Paul Rietzl folgen und euch jetzt schon Eindrücke zu seinen Arbeiten verschaffen:
Pauls Website | Paul bei Facebook | bei Twitter | bei Tumblr | und Behance

Posted on

Summer in the City

Summer is here! The sun is shining and the sky is blue, it’s getting warmer and warmer, bees are humming – you get the picture – and everybody who is still inside starts contemplating how to change that and leave the house for a bit of summer in the city.

This is what we want to do as well.

Why we do fairs, one might ask, as we are talking constantly about our new shop (and seen from that perspective I don’t know why I would ever leave my beautiful desk). But these fairs – focused on books, art or design – have considerable advantages, of course. We can get our books some fresh air, meet lots of interested people and enjoy the special atmosphere. The crowd is open, at least, if not in search of the unusual, the unseen and unheard of. Especially the small, relatively new markets are so much more casual, urban and fresh than many of the well-established huge events. And in summer it is just great fun to be around and a part of all this. Between food stalls, music and ice cream you can find innovative ideas, lots of inspiration, unique things … and our scrolls!

After having had a marvelous time at the supernice and not less successful UlmUnusual design fair in Germany’s South in March, our next stop is the most local of all design markets (at least for us): Weddingmarkt at Nordufer in our beloved neighborhood: Berlin’s one and only Wedding. On June, 5th and July, 3rd we will contribute to Wedding’s local culture at Nordufer by selling our precious books to fellow Weddingers, berliners and interested others.

And what else is coming up?

We are preparing for the „I never Read“ in Basel at the moment, which is taking place the 15th to 18th of June. And then, the 18th of June is the summer street party on Wörther Straße in Prenzlauer Berg’s Kollwitzkiez. We will be selling our scrolls at one of Berlin’s nicest book shops that day, all day long: the Georg Büchner Kunstbuchladen.

So, maybe, we’ll meet you there with a glass of white wine in our hands, strawberries in our mouths or just summer in our hearts.

Posted on Leave a comment

The book is dead: long live the book!

Recently, someone told me that “there’s a reason why books have pages and scrolls are not longer used”. Although I was a bit vexed at first, I must admit that this person – a book binder for the record – had a point.

Historically, the book, bound of single pages, was a great evolution. It transformed the way information was stored and for the purpose of having huge amounts of texts assembled in a way which makes looking up single parts easy it definitely was better suited than the scroll (most text scrolls where made of single sheets of paper pasted one to another and rather difficult to handle – although, as is shown in this video, many people really had difficulties with their first book :)).

But then, what happened? The e-book came around and the whole publishing industry trembled. And, truth be told, the e-book is even better suited than the normal book for making huge amounts of information easily available – hundreds of books stored on one device, the most efficient search algorithms and a whole lot of weird interconnectedness with everything: music, pictures, videos, dictionaries, you name it.

More than the death of the printed book, the e-book is the liberation of the book from the overwhelming compulsion of being something practical. If you want something to read texts easily, you can go and get yourself an e-reader and the printed book can finally take new shapes and tell stories in new ways, adapt to it’s content with less restrictions.

That is exactly what the book – and the publishers – have been up to in the last years and at least one reason why e-book sales are slowly flattening out (as recently published in the New York Times).

And so, yes there is a reason why scrolls have been the privilege of archeologists, asian art aficionados and pre-film avant-garde thinkers but now the time has come for everyone to explore the literally endless space they offer us to tell stories in a whole new way.

Posted on Leave a comment

Larry Yust on Round not Square

It happened like this. I got an email out of the blue from some people who called themselves Round not Square. The name intrigued me and so did their proposal. They wanted to use some of my images to make a book in the form of a scroll. You know, with sticks to roll a long piece of paper from one side to another, rolling pages past your eyes instead of flipping them. Like an ancient Chinese scroll. It was completely out-of-the box and it caught my imagination.

So I emailed back asking for more details. We exchanged emails several times and the result was that I pulled a new book project of mine from an established publisher (who was taking too long to get the book into print, I thought) and gave it to Round not Square.

I’m glad I did. The result is everything I hoped it would be, still way out-of-the- box. Unique, beautiful, fun, crazy and the best way I have seen yet to present my long images in book form, albeit a book of a very different sort.

I love it.

Larry Yust, Los Angeles, 2015

Posted on

Scroll Production: Nerds & Vintage Wine

As our kickstarter is slowly coming to an end, time will come to focus on production – again. You remember how we wrote about starting the first prototype on our kitchen table. Well… we’ve come a long way: still printing a scroll is way different than printing a normal book and part of our process is just plain crazy. Here’s how it’s done.


First: We get our paper directly from the mill. Nobody else asks for similar dimensions and so we need to have it made and cut customized. They deliver huge rolls of paper weighting approx. 140 kg each – that’s roughly 7 km of paper on one roll!

Second: We unwind and rewind the paper to smaller rolls to feed the printer as it cannot handle the big 140kg rolls.

Third: Now we can start with the printing. The printing technology used is basically the same as is used by galleries and museums around the world for fine art printing and highest quality photography reproduction. We’ve tweaked the drivers to allow virtually endless printing – yes we could print 7km without a single interruption: challenge us if you want 😉 – but the process is still rather lengthy.

The printer works with incredibly dense resolutions. Our longest book – Street Colors, Catching the Eye is roughly 31m long – it takes roughly 5 hours to go through the printing process. Nothing must go wrong: the smallest glitch would be fatal to the whole book, so we spent quite some time testing and improving the process to make sure that this does not happen! That’s what it takes to offer you a book that is really printed in “gallery quality”.

Fourth: Once printed, the scrolls go to the book binder, who assembles the cover and binds each book manually.

Fifth: Finally, before being shipped, the books take a nice rest. Our scrolls are like vintage wines: they need to rest after being moved around a lot. Rolled and closed, the books are stored in a stable environment to strengthen the natural “curl” of the paper and improve your reading experience.


So, if you backed us on Kickstarter for any of our books: Now you know that your scroll will be manufactured during hours, even days with the greatest care and to the highest quality standards before it comes delivered to your door.

Posted on

Fair, good, sustainable… or: what we want to be

Setting up your own company follows its own rules, an immanent logic. It is more about daily survival, fighting doubts and encouraging smiles, more about who pays the next Veggie-Kebab and if you can afford this beautiful property as an office. Most of the time being responsible and good is not the top priority of your list.

We want to do it anyhow. We want to build a new space for creativity, a company which is sustainable and fair and, nonetheless, we want to live of it and be successful in what we do (successful – not rule the global market as a sole power (even though – thinking of it now…)).

So here are some points in which we think we can include our honest idealism in our publishing house.

Fair and cooperative structures: Include the people you are working with!

For us, fair remuneration for our authors and artists means that they get paid for the work before publication as well as for each copy sold. A third pillar ensures that they are integrated into the company in a cooperative way, so will be part of Round not Square’s success as our development will be based on their work.

Sales structures: Count your customers in, they are cool!

The cost structure for normal books is roughly the following: 60% of the sales price goes into retail, 15% are used for production, 10 % are going to the author and 15% are left for editorial work and the editor. This system is barely holding up, everybody complains, all parties are trying to stay in business. Many authors and artists, especially in photography, pay to see their books published, while publishing companies focus on publishing successful books – as these are used to cross-finance the rest of the program.

We believe in a system where you should have more space for art, which in the end means trial and error or the freedom to fail.

We considered different ways to avoid this system, the center piece of our thoughts circling around avoiding classic retail channels and production chains. This again will only be possible with the help of our customers, buying directly from us and allowing us to build something together.

Manufacturing: Building sustainable, responsible and local production processes

Round not Square is designed as a publishing house with an integrated manufacturing process. Our production is set to be on demand. No scroll will be shredded, no book will be lost, no stacks of paper will be wasted. Every book is valuable to the beholder, even if it’s just a handful of people that buy and cherish it. For setting up the production chain and also for choosing our partners and suppliers we include sustainability as one of our main criteria to base our decisions upon.

Production in our format is a huge challenge. While our minds are set on holding as much of the process in our own hands, we are still depending on a few players on the technology side. For our sustainability balance, their will to “go green” and be responsible is therefore quite important. We will try our best, but in the end it comes to that: the more we sell books, the more we can go towards influencing them (off-setting is of course always possible and will be done).

We have made the experience that being fair and sustainable is often about these ideals being integrated in the company’s intrinsic set of values. We want to be different and we want to be good: we don’t want to destroy but to create. We are idealistic but let’s do this!!

 

Challenge us on it!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

How it began …

Well, how did it begin? Hard to say.

Erste Versuche-AntoniaActually, publishing books on scrolls is an idea we had for quite some time in our heads without really following up on it. But then we decided that it might be time to live a more self-determined life and founding our own thing … and we rethought all these ideas we had along the way – from tasty-flavor-rich baby food (a great idea in fact if you have ever tried a carrot-meat-mashup without seasoning) to opening a bar (classic) or inventing a new magazine (we will definitely do that one day). But we always came back to the scrolls, the mind-opening change of format that stands behind it and the possibilities it would give to artists, readers and publishers.

Erste Versuche-IoanSo after many hours of thinking, discussing, developing, thinking and re-discussing we had our minds set – and our hearts, too. This is what we want to do: bring an ancient form of publishing to new life, make it sparkle and full of design, classic and beautiful at the same time, combining the art of making books with the art of publishing books. Filled with dreams, ideas, plans and expectations we started to work on our project, half-time and at the kitchen table at first but soon full-time. It was September 2014 we moved to Berlin – what a great city to try things – and devoted our time fully to the scrolls.

In March 2015 we founded our own publishing house, named it Round not Square, and here we are… that is how all of this began!