Lucas Dietrich & Darren Wall
November 13, 2017, London, England. As everything in our life becomes more digitized, the world of publishing is evolving to keep up. Now, with the mass success of independent titles online—more than a third of the bestselling eBooks on Amazon are self-published—competition is high to establish creative, effective models for producing high-specification books aT the same pace and scale. Volume, a London-based company, is tackling the challenge head-on. Merging the digital and physical worlds to create a perfect medium, the company is creating the first online publishing platform solely for publishing books on the visual arts.
Setting its sights on physical books, Volume opens the world of illustrated book publishing, a space currently occupied primarily by publishers and authors, to the crowd. First, Volume will give creatives the opportunity to share their books with the platform’s community of enthusiasts before bringing them into the world. Additionally, Volume’s model presents a focused approach to publishing books across a spectrum of specialist subjects and figures, which conventional publishers might believe are too narrow for their audiences. Whereas traditional publishers might shy away from sumptuous editions due to their production demands, the platform will allow for a market test, flexibility, advertising, and—if successful—funding all at once.
By providing greater interaction between creators and readers —and the growing interest in ‘book-objects’ —as well as enabling more dynamic publishing solutions, Volume hopes to make the industry more accessible, personal, and efficient. Its new website, which can be found at vol.co, will allow creatives— both established and new to publishing—to submit their publishing projects for consideration.
“Technology has had a major impact on how we experience content, which has in turn irrevocably altered the medium of the traditional book trade.” says publisher Lucas Dietrich.
“Volume steps into this breach by offering an online platform that celebrates the spirit of individual creativity and those who want to take part it in through beautiful books.” Editor Darren Wall adds, “The flexibility and reach Volume will offer authors is unprecedented, from interaction with communities established around single book projects to exciting new production methods that would simply be beyond the capacity of most publishers.”
Volume will launch with the title Look & See, by graphic designer and letterpress guru, Anthony Burrill. As one of the most beloved creators in the UK’s lively craft printing scene, Burrill is known for his upbeat typographic posters. Look & See reflects as such, featuring Bodoniana binding and a cover silkscreened in three colors. And through Volume, Burrill will offer much more than just high-quality books to his project backers, including a specially designed print, a signed edition, a numbered limited edition in a clamshell box, and even the chance to spend a day with Burrill at his studio.
Blank Space and Volume present ‘Storytelling Architecture’ – a breathtakingly diverse set of narratives collected from 5 years of architectural fairy tales submitted to Blank Space’s Fairy Tales competition.
The publication will be organized into the most pressing themes of our times and planet: Urbanism, Globalization, Equality, Sustainability and Technology. Explore the imaginations of fifty architects, artists, designers, and creators, from around the world, who dare to take a deeper look at architecture.
“Storytelling Architecture is a mind-bending collection of the most innovative and thought-provoking architectural narratives today. We were approached by the founders of Volume to publish this retrospective edition last year, and were thrilled by the concept of creating a community around the book, before it was published, echoing the manner in which the stories were born from an open call to the Fairy Tales competition,”
– Matthew Hoffman.
Megastructure, one of the late-20th-century’s most influential architecture books, will be reissued by Volume, the publishing platform for the visual arts.
It is a rare book that captures the zeitgeist of a particular period, and a rare writer who can present that spirit through references that range from art history to engineering, from architectural theory to pop culture. British-born author, critic, and cultural commentator Reyner Banham is generally regarded by many as the finest architecture and design critic of his generation, if not of all time.
Before he died prematurely, at the age of 66, Banham penned many essays and books. His paean to Los Angeles, The Architecture of Four Ecologies, played a vital role in transforming the city from a design hinterland to a hotbed of innovation. But it is Megastructure, published in 1976, that is perhaps the best testiment of the breadth of his knowledge, of his enthusiasm for the possibilities of the built world, and his embrace of technology, all interwoven through his enlightened personal perspective – and animated by his often provocative positions. In Megastructure – loosely defined as the concept of a giant, adaptable, multipurpose building containing most of the functions of a city – Banham artfully and entertainingly chronicles its rise and fall, from its idealistic beginnings in the 1950s to its demise in the early 1970s.
“Originally published in 1976, this illuminating book will find resonance with those who lived through an exciting period of visionary architectural ideas and the lively characters who espoused them, and will attract a new audience among a younger generation of architects and designers facing the challenges of today,” says Lucas Dietrich, publisher of Volume.
Presented on Volume, this revitalizated edition of Megastructure retains the original layouts and imagery, but has been completely overhauled using 21st-century production and printing techniques. The book is offered in two forms, including a collector’s edition limited to 250 copies and a lithograph of the rarely seen coloured rendering of Paul Rudolph’s 1970 Lower Manhattan Expressway project, which appears in monochrome on the cover of the original edition.
Interview with Lucas Dietrich
What defined the birth of the volume project?
My partner Darren Wall and I co-founded the Volume projects as a start-up enterprise supported by Thames and Hudson. The aim of the volume project is to rely less heavily on the conventional book trade and to publish special books for an individual audience bringing the book to the person and the person to the book at a worldwide scale.
What defines the books/projects you choose to print?
We generally look for material which will make for unique and inspiring books with an audience of around 1000 people. We favor projects/people with great ideas and who have a strong following in terms of social media either because of their independent view or as belonging to a community of people, who however, don’t have access to the conventional publisher route. In this sense the platform truly aims to provide assisted publishing, something largely possible due to the support of Thames and Hudson.
In the age of the digital what lead you back to rethink the book?
Rather than analogue vs digital, the notion we try to challenge is that of the book as medium rather than container. Subsequently we are interested in ideas as customization (readers are encouraged to customize their own covers, as for example with the last book Storytelling Architecture). We try to push the boundaries of what is generally possible in typical book constraints.
What is your take on the contemporary giant of Amazon.
Volume creates communities around the book. Giants such as Amazon are hard to beat in terms of the efficient service they provide, on the other hand Volume aims to deliver the experience around the book. In this sense the book is not limited to itself but becomes part of a ‘ritual’. We reflect on the intermediary temporal spaces between when the book is created, funded and then delivered at ones’ door, so that the individual purchasing the book becomes part of the story from the very beginning.
How did you get so passionate about books?
I studied philosophy, a profession which is inherently tied to the book. For me the book negotiates a set of ideas and vision. It is a set of principles neatly packaged between two covers, both object and piece of intellectual property one wants to buy and make their own.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I am currently indulging in an overview of nature called ‘Arctic Dreams’ by Barry Lopez, a book which explores the flora and fauna of the artic region and reflects on humanity’s desire to get away from their screens. The book dwells on the need for people to experience culture, realizing that what they want is indeed a physical rather than a virtual experience mediated by the monitor. Nauseated by the disconnection provided by their mobile phones, Arctic Dreams talks about a return to craft and the comforting presence of absence in the arctic.
Volume a start-up enterprise supported by independent visual-arts publisher Thames & Hudson, was founded by Lucas Dietrich and Darren Wall. The international art publisher holds access to decades of editorial and design insight, production and printing expertise, and unparalleled distribution to the global book trade. The team is eager to pass its knowledge onto a new generation of creative talents and increasingly print-savvy audiences with Volume.