A (one-off) future for print

themanual
What an interesting experiment.

This morning, a four-page printed newspaper called The Manual was distributed to London commuters at a number of locations in the city.

Just 150 copies were printed with each one numbered so making the complete print run truly a limited edition.

The man behind The Manual is journalist and editor Richard Addis and his company with the highly apt name of Shakeup Media.

One of the interesting aspects of this newspaper is that it was produced and printed entirely by hand:

[…] Every word and every image and every mark of any kind in The Manual was drawn by a team of volunteers – mostly illustrators. The printing was also by hand, silk screened at The Print Club in Dalston.

And it has a notable objective:

[…] This one-off non-profit project was organised by Shakeup Media to make a point about the future of print. We hope to show that handmade qualities can transform newspapers from ‘junk’ to collectable. We also want to demonstrate the power of print as a medium by using ink and paper in a manner that emphasises their unique touch, smell and texture.

It’s an admirable experiment. I wish I could have seen a copy, better to form a view on whether “handmade qualities can transform newspapers from ‘junk’ to collectable.”

The only jarring note is this statement on the newspaper’s website regarding photos:

The photographs here are all copyright of the award-winng [sic] Caroline Irby (www.carolineirby.com) and you are welcome to use them on the understanding that we’ll ask you later for your normal reproduction fee.

Why not release them – just these specific photos – under a Creative Commons license? I could find only one photo on the site, and it’s a good one, but still: think of the buzz possibilities that would be enriched by some great photos.

But that’s the mainstream media for you.

(Via The Guardian.)

One other thought springs to my mind on what Addis is doing.

Do you remember the EPIC 2014 video produced by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson back in 2004 (and updated as EPIC 2015 in 2005)?

The part of EPIC that springs to my mind when thinking about The Manual concerns the “news wars of 2010” and what ultimately happens to newspapers and specifically the New York Times (as the metaphor for the Fourth Estate) – it “goes offline and becomes a print-only newsletter for the elite and the elderly.”

EPIC 2015 is up on YouTube and very much worth a look if you didn’t see it when it came out. Worth a look, too, if you did see it at that time – just see what has and hasn’t happened in the intervening four years.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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