Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Digital Revelations

As book lovers producing real books as objects of magic and beauty we have done the unthinkable and gone digital.

We are obsessed and obsessive about books. When we call ourselves a talismanic publisher it is because we create magical objects to create change in the world. This is explicit in every step of the process, from design to typography to consecration. If you want a magical book, then there is nothing comparable to a hand bound edition in a mass production world. But we are not elitists. We intend to empower the next generation with these books in whatever format necessary.

We want the same  information which is in our fine editions and hardbacks to be accessible. We have also struggled to buy books, pay rent and put food on the table whilst being committed students of magick.

We launched Bibliotheque Rouge to prove that esoteric knowledge should be available and affordable, not artificially scarce and expensive.  Now Rouge will also be releasing e-books.

Our Rouge books are in a direct lineage from the Bibliotheque Bleue chapbooks which mass printed and produced grimoires (amongst other books) in Europe causing and fuelling an explosion of popular magical practice from the seventeenth century onwards.  This gave us Red Dragon, Black Dragon, Grimorium Verum et al. It was a bold and brash move which put books that had often circulated as costly manuscripts into the hands of every man (and woman) confounding the censorious church.

Such a change is occurring again and we ally ourselves with it. 

Magical books changed radically with the invention of the printing press, no longer hand copied and clandestine, these rough and ready inventions both preserved and spread dangerous ideas like wildfire.
Was their magic any worse for it being performed out of tatty blue pamphlets?

Magic is not just the book itself, but crucially what you do with it.
Attainment comes from the Work and not the object alone.

The printing press democratised and empowered practitioners and we are seeing an equally potent event now happening in the digital age.  As a small publisher we are able to produce paperback editions in print runs or on demand in a way that does not bankrupt us.  We like the fact that paperbacks do not simply fall out of print but continue to cause trouble in the world, just as they should.

Yet if the Devil is the god of the printing press, then Lucifer is surely the digital information revolution.

 In the last year the landscape has radically changed. The digital book, whether on kindle or i-pad or sony reader has become ubiquitous. Information is now fluid, and any published book can and will be digitised. Content is agnostic, and it is foolish to pretend otherwise. Limitation is becoming a lie.

We know that occultists appreciate the art inherent in the book and will continue to cherish these living things and not abandon them for zeros and ones. The e-book is complimentary rather than a replacement for the physical form.

The e-book hopefully means more people will read books. That can only be a good thing. It also means that we can create affordable versions of our work so that readers can take the risk on new authors and unfamiliar subjects. You can dare to read and enrich yourself outside of your field, perhaps you haven’t encountered Pomba Gira or Palo Mayombe before, or you want to see if the poetry cuts it.

It allows you to travel with a library rather than dislocating your shoulder with a satchel full of books- as we often do. It makes unwieldy reference texts quickly searchable for research.

To this end, we are issuing all of our future paperback Bibliotheque Rouge titles in epub and mobi format.

Does this mean that we are starry-eyed converts, adoring the new format of the book? Far from it. The digital reader is both a technological inevitability and wedded to a clear attempt to control all of publishing by the Scylla and Charybdis of Amazon and Apple. This will maim publishers, bookshops and printers, large and small. This alas seems inevitable.  Skills such as editing, layout and typography will continue to decline in the mass market. We know our readers will continue to act with discrimination and support small publishers by buying direct and knowing the value of the book itself.

The e-readers themselves are designed to die, in a cycle of fake upgrades, fashion and the component failure of built in obsolescence. You will keep having to buy more hardware and the third world will get more container loads of toxic junk in return. Digital information does not survive collapse in the resilient way that hard copy does. Let’s not pretend that the environmental impact is anything other than an ongoing catastrophe. 

However, as the world enters into radical flux, magick responds.
Now, more than ever, there is an urgency to communicate and we hope that by embracing the digital revolution we can get these relevant voices of modern magick to the new generation.

We still hold firm to our commitment to the physical book as a repository of force and form.
There is something very special about the book, which will endure when the last kindle is thrown in a landfill.
(We will of course replace lost files for you free of charge as long as the lights stay on.)

Our books are specifically made to accomplish magical results, and digital books are simply an extension of that aim.
If you want a book that will potentially last as long as our species does, buy a fine or hardback edition.
If you want a book to underline, throw in your bag or take to the woods in the rain, choose a paperback.
If you simply want the raw data file, download an e-book.

We are daring to offering a free and unfettered choice.


Valeyard said...

I really appreciate your dedication to getting the information out there. I can't count the number of times I wanted to pull out one of your published titles and share some specific piece of those beatific revelations they are so chock full of when similar topics come up in conversation or at the local pagan circle, but alas until now I either had to lug my entire library with me or bring the volume by another day when the conversation had already gone stale. This will be quite helpful indeed! Not that I don't enjoy seeing the book lust light in their eyes when friends see your fine volumes-It's the simple pleasures in life!

Darren Scriven said...

I think it is a good idea, that way those who prefer to be minimilist can still purchase such titles, instead of looking for pirated copies on the web. And therefore, will still support the occult publishing world, but digitally. While those of us who love a good smell of a real book, will still continue to purchase the printed versions. Well I will anyway ;)
By the way, nice picture,its my favourite one of Lucifer :)

Scarlet Imprint said...

Thanks for the support Valeyard and Darren. It has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the decision. We appreciate the reader feedback.

BobbyBangem said...

Although I've never read a book in pdf or on some screen of pixels, the issues here are far more broad & significant. The music industry was apparently caught off-guard initially when music became so "freely" available. This resulted in mass confusion & utter chaos. Any failure to accept evolutionary processes must be averted...attempts to the contrary are certainly papal and historically counterproductive to our species.

Regardless of any opinions, this is Truly INEVITABLE, as is the coming Technological Singularity...Which some may also oppose, or feel uncomfortable with however, "the peril & the promise", is as necessary as that of Fire itself.-The only genuine hazard or injustice would be any attempts to derail or stifle OUR natural evolutionary impetus, of which THIS is but just another step forward.
You're also correct in that these devices eventually will all become obsolete and in a landfill we're soon to enter an age in which ALL information WILL be downloaded directly to our consciousness & visual cortex.
-To those who may oppose the exponentially inevitable Technological Singularity, I ask you to please embrace that which will enable the elimination of All poverty, All disease and All needs for fossil fuels. The only war(s) will be due to the opposition of pursuits of unlimited technological advancements & the fear of such advancements as man merges with machine & immortality becomes truly tangible, an "option" rather than deemed as only mystical or metaphysical. These profoundly poetic events no longer dichotomies, but opposites uniting, as quantum mechanics & nanotechnologies converge with and validate Ancient mysticism and Magick like never before.
This will all occur within our lifetimes, within just a few decades due to the non-linearity of exponential growth revealed in the consistency of numerous scientific models.
-Dalla Valle

Pallas Renatus said...

While there will never be a replacement for your physical products, the contribution you've decided to make to the future of magic is immeasurable. Thank you.

Scarlet Imprint said...

Thanks Pallas Renatus, we appreciate the support. Already seeing the information getting out to more people, which is exactly what we wanted.