On September 25, 2014, I was invited to join Tara McPherson from USC + the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture; Alberto Pepe, co-founder of Authorea; and Gregg Gordon, President of the Social Science Research Network, for a panel discussion at Columbia University on DIY publishing. I argued that DIY is, for the most part, a hubristic myth — and I offered instead “5 Lessons [about Publishing] on a Gradient of DIY-ness.” Here are my slides.
[Edit 6/18: To further bore you to tears, I’ve added some new material re: fees and budgets. In a helpful Twitter exchange, which I’ll post below, my lovely colleague Alexandra Lange reminded me of these critical financial concerns.]
For each of the past five or six years I’ve been fortunate to have a research assistant — a Masters student I have every intention of enlisting to help me collect research resources and prepare material for publication; to serve as a sounding board for my syllabi and lesson plans; to help with maintaining my various websites; etc. When it comes time to delegate, however, I’ve tended to be overly cautious: I’m concerned that all the scanning and note-taking and image-formatting will be too boring and un-educational, so I end up doing all the drudge-work myself — and giving my RAs too little to do. Then I invariably find myself scanning books in the office on a Saturday afternoon — or spending long nights collating permission forms and reformatting image files to send off to my publisher — and thinking to myself: it this really the best use of my time?
So, after years and years of this “fear of delegating non-‘enlightening’ tasks,” I finally decided to ask my RA — a highly motivated, intelligent, organized, and capable young woman — to help me handle image rights clearances for a little book I’m publishing later this year. Nearly everything I’ve ever published has included images — 80 or so in my first book (I obtained permission for over 100), between two and six for most of my articles and chapters — and I’ve always handled all the copyright clearances myself. Selecting the images can be fun, but managing the bureaucracy isn’t exactly the most stimulating of tasks (ok, fine — it sucks).
That said, being introduced to the whole process can, potentially, be educational — and perhaps even interesting — for someone who’s new to the world of publishing, academic or otherwise. Plus, it easily disabuses us of the notion that “information wants to be free” — and reminds us that cultural producers do deserve credit (and remuneration, in some form) for their work.
I aimed to entrust my RA with as much responsibility as possible, so she felt empowered to make decisions and sensed my faith in her abilities. But I also wanted to set up a structure for her work — so she knew how to organize her correspondence and anticipate questions. Coincidentally, as I was preparing a little “primer” for her, two academic friends mentioned to me that they, as doctoral students, were asked to handle rights clearances for their advisors’ books. Both said they were given a list of images and copies of their advisors’ manuscripts — and put to work. That’s it. No further instruction. They were embarrassed to ask their advisors for direction — they assumed that this was a practice they should be familiar with, and they were reluctant to admit their ignorance — so they consulted with fellow students and rooted around for any advice they could piece together.
Sure, finding your own way has pedagogical and “character-building” value. But I see no harm in sharing what I’ve learned, from my own experience in managing rights clearances for my own work for the past decade-and-a-half.
So here’s what I did: First, I requested from my publisher more info about the types of images for which they require rights clearances (e.g., some don’t require permissions for ephemera or maps — but my book makes use of lots of maps-as-art and argues that maps are authored, rhetorical media, so I’m getting clearances for maps, too) and a template of your press’s “rights clearance” letter, which you’ll need to customize with info re: your publication’s tentative title, format, anticipated publication date and press run, etc. And if you have a budget for usage fees — perhaps provided by a grant, through your own research funds, or via an advance from your publisher (ha!!) — you need to figure out what that is, and get a sense of how you want to distribute those inevitably insufficient funds (Because of the contemporary and “bloggy” nature of my current project, I’m aiming to use mostly CreativeCommons-licensed and public domain images — so my primary means of “budgeting” involves eliminating nearly all images that require significant payment).
I sent the press’s permissions guidelines and template rights letter, along with the following note (with a few edits, to correct for ambiguities we discovered after our initial round of correspondence), to my RA:
Hi, Fantastic Research Assistant!
[inquiries about her own work, niceties, smalltalk, smalltalk]… I’d really appreciate your help with securing image rights clearances for the roughly 45 images I’d like to use in a short book — XX — I’m publishing with X Press this fall=l.
I’ve attached the manuscript. Inserted throughout you’ll find yellow-highlighted lines indicating what images I’d like to use, and where I’d like for them to be placed within the text. I’ve included links to the images online — and, in some cases, links to the articles or blog posts in which I found those images.
We have to get clearance for all copyrighted images, and notify all Creative Commons license-holders (or holders of other forms of more liberal licensing) that we’d like to use their work. I’ve included instructions below. We can talk more when we meet!
Thanks so much for your help! Shannon
So, here’s what I need you to do:
- Create a spreadsheet listing all the images in the order in which they’re listed in the manuscript
- Create a row listing the “Sources” for each image — i.e., what book, article, blog post, etc. it appeared in — in other words, where we found it (online, in most cases). Include URLs where applicable.
- Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Rights Holders + Contact Info.” You’ll need to do some investigation to find out who holds the rights to each image. Sometimes the rights holders will be listed in the image’s caption. Sometimes the photos are by the authors of the article or blog post; you’ll need to ID those folks and find their contact info. Sometimes you’ll have to do some deeper investigation.
- Create a row on the spreadsheet called “Permission Granted.” Here, you’ll make a checkmark if/when the rights holders contact you to say that they’ve approved our use of their images.
- Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Preferred Citation.” Here’s you’ll note how the rights holder wants to be credited (e.g., “Photo courtesy Mr. X” or “Copyright Ms. X, 2013.”) They’ll indicate their preferred citation on the clearance form they’ll return to you. More about this later.
- [Added 6/18] Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Fees.” We’re asking rights holders to grant us permission to use their material either free of charge or for a “nominal fee,” since this is a non-profit endeavor (see ArtStor’s “Images for Academic Publishing” program). Please note “no fee” if applicable.
…..However, some organizations, institutions, and individuals (e.g., various archives, libraries, and museums; professional photographers, artists, and designers, etc.) might require (as per guidelines on their websites) or request a fee. Please alert me if a fee is required or requested, and note the amount on the spreadsheet. I might be able to negotiate. Regardless, we’ll need to let the rights holders know that we’ll reassess the budget once we have a final list of all the images we’d like to use in the publication — and if we do ultimately decide that we’d like to use their image(s), and that we can pay the fee, we’ll be in touch at a later date to process payment. (More about money crap below.)
- Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Possible Substitute Images.” We can return to this after we’ve made our initial rounds of contacts. You won’t have to fill in this field for each image — only those that we can’t use, for whatever reason. Perhaps we simply can’t pay the fee they’re requesting, or maybe we can’t track down the rights holders. In these cases, I’d be appreciative if you could please do some online image research to find a good substitute image for which the rights holder’s identity is more clear. Try Google Images, Flickr, Instagram, etc. Best of all, you might find an image that’s in the public domain or liberally licensed via CreativeCommons. On the spreadsheet, note the links for these replacement images and relevant contact info for the rights holders. If it’s a public domain image, note the preferred citation, as well as the creator and his/her contact info.
- Now, you’ll need to contact each of the rights holders. Send them an email with an introductory text (I’ll paste it below), and attach (1) the Image Permissions letter and (2) a copy of the images we’d like to reproduce. You’ll need to “customize” this letter with the date, addressee, and a description of the image — and send it as a PDF. In some cases, we might be asking to use more than one image from the same rights holder; this is why it’s a good idea to list all the images on a spreadsheet first, so you can see if there’s any duplication — and then you can simply write the individual once with multiple images listed in the same email.
- As they respond, note their responses — yes/no, date of response, preferred citation, fees — on the spreadsheet.
- Please forward any correspondence that requires my attention — e.g., requests for payment, questions re: how the image will be used in the book.
- Please create a folder for each rights holder in which you save: (1) pdfs of all email correspondence with them, (2) a copy of their signed, returned Image Permissions form, and (3) a copy/copies of the high-res image(s).
- Follow up with folks who haven’t responded after a week or so. You could even try calling, using my office phone.
- If some folks never respond, I’ll try to reach out to them. If they still don’t respond, if they ask for an insane fee, or if they give us a flat-out ‘no,’ I’ll ask for your help in searching for replacement images.
And here’s the text you can use in the email you send to everyone:
I’m writing on behalf of Shannon Mattern, an Associate Professor at The New School in New York. Shannon — whose work you can find on her website, wordsinspace.net — is publishing a short book with X Press this fall; you’ll find a short description of the project below. She’d like to reproduce in this book some material to which you hold the rights. We originally found this/these images here: [list URLs for online sources]. You can find copies of those images attached.
I’ve attached a letter that describes in greater detail the nature of the project, and the terms of the agreement. Please note that X is an academic press, and that Shannon will likely not profit from the publication; for this reason, we ask that you please consider granting us permission to use your work at no cost or for a nominal fee.
If you do agree to these terms, please sign the attached letter (noting, on the second page, your preferred citation and, if applicable, where this work was first published), and return it to me. Please also send a high-resolution copy of the image. We prefer 4” x 5” 300 dpi tiff files, but we can make do with slightly lower resolution.
Please respond directly to me. If you have any questions for Shannon, please let me know, and I’ll forward your queries to her.
The final selection of images will ultimately be determined by the length of the book, the preferences of the press’s designers, etc. — but we do hope to be able to include your work in the publication. Thank you very much for your time and consideration!
[Include one-paragraph synopsis of the projec]
Quite a few rights-holders wrote back wanting to know more about the specific context in which their work will be reproduced — in other words, what arguments will my images be supporting?, or what will you be using my photographs to say? — so I invited my RA to attempt to briefly summarize the main discussion topics in the section of the text in which the copyright-holder’s image(s) would be placed. If she didn’t feel comfortable doing this, I offered to do it.
[6/18] Also, a Twitter exchange with architectural historian/critic Alexandra Lange reminded me of the financial implications of rights clearances. For previous projects, I have on occasion paid upwards of $300 per image — for archival images, or for the work of highly regarded professional photographers. Art and architectural historians and critics in particular face exorbitant fees — in some cases, so exorbitant that their projects ultimately prove to be cost prohibitive. Or, in other cases — as with this art history text book — the project proceeds, but in compromised form, without the images.
Mary Finer, Project Strategist at ArtStor (and a fabulous former student of mine!) chimed in to remind us that ArtStor offers some of its images for use, free of charge, in academic publications.
My RA and I are still in the midst of this process — but once she’s collected all her responses, she’ll share with me (1) her spreadsheet documenting the process; (2) copies of all her correspondence (including, especially, the signed permission forms) with each rights holder; and (3) high-res copies of all the images we’ll reproduce in the article.
And that’s that. God, I just bored myself to sleep.
As part of the “Zonal Logics of Modernity” workshop, jointly organized by colleagues at The New School and NYU, I spoke about “counter-logics” through the example of Paju Bookcity in South Korea. Our two-day workshop focused on the special economic zone as a socio-cultural space, one we can perhaps better understand through the lenses of the humanities. Some of our key concerns were: whether there’s a particular connection between Asian modernity and the SEZ (given the spatial form’s early arrival and contemporary predominance in Asia); what role aesthetics and materiality play in the marketing and design of the zone; how the zone configures the urban subject and/or citizen; how “zonal logics” impact cultural production; and what epistemologies and ontologies of urbanity are embodied in the zone.
Here are the text and images from my talk.
Next weekend I’m participating in a workshop, jointly organized by colleagues at The New School and NYU, on “Zonal Logics of Modernity” — or the special economic zone as a socio-cultural space, one we can perhaps better understand through the lenses of the humanities. Some of the key concerns we’ll be addressing include: whether there’s a particular connection between Asian modernity and the SEZ (given the spatial form’s early arrival and contemporary predominance in Asia); what role aesthetics and materiality play in the marketing and design of the zone; how the zone configures the urban subject and/or citizen; how “zonal logics” impact cultural production; and what epistemologies and ontologies of urbanity are embodied in the zone.
I’ll focus on Paju Bookcity, which I visited in the Summer of 2012 and wrote about for Places last year. I think Paju presents an interesting counter-example because it reflects, at least in its “philosophical” dimension, a counter-logic: rather than embracing global capitalism, technological progress, and other “neoliberal” (I wince every time I say or write that word!) values, Bookcity was conceived in the late 80s (and founded in 2007) to provide a space of exception, an alternative to South Korea’s “growth-driven ambition of the late 20th century.” While the rest of the nation seemed single-mindedly focused on achieving digital supremacy — the fastest broadband, the greatest saturation of smartphones — here we have a haven for analog books.
As I write in my Places article:
This was the complicated urban-cultural and socio-economic context that inspired Korean publisher Yi Ki-ung to found Paju Bookcity, and which shaped his decade-long battle to bring it to fruition: a publishing industry with a deep cultural history facing dramatic changes; a capital city bloated by years of top-down development that had proven unsustainable; and a national psyche recovering from what Yi described as “intense psychological confusion and disorder” brought about by decades of war, colonialism and dictatorship. As [design critic Edwin] Heathcote says, Yi envisioned an alternative future; Bookcity was “a reaction to the rapacious redevelopment of Seoul, the loss of the city’s historic fabric and its rapid embrace of the culture of bigness and congestion.” Bookcity’s self-styled exceptionalism is rooted in this origin story: it was conceived as not just another industrial estate, but as a city that would, in Yi’s words, “recover the lost humanity” of the country, a cultural project sustaining time-honored values and a commitment to the print tradition.
…The Asia Publication and Culture Information Center — one of the signature buildings in Paju and the only one whose designer, Kim Byung-yoon, was chosen by competition — embodied the project’s central values: “preserving the spiritual culture of Korea … bequeathing the value and importance of the Book to the next generation.” …For Yi, who felt “suffocated in Seoul,” Paju was intended to be a breath of fresh air; by bringing together urban designers and bookmakers outside the pressures of the capital city, he hoped to encourage a more reflective practice and richer culture.
Bookcity was, at least in its original conception, explicitly nostalgic; it embraced and embodied what seemed to be a zonal counter-logic. But in order to operationalize this vision, and get the necessary funding, the project’s leaders had to wrap this utopian, and seemingly “pre-modern,” vision in a late capitalist zonal package: they had to sell Bookcity as specialized industrial city that would offer particular efficiencies in national and international book distribution and provide a space for synergistic collaboration — not to mention “reflective practice” — among its publishers. All the standard zonal logics made possible its realization:
The central government provided state-owned land at a discount, built much of the infrastructure, offered low-cost financing to tenants, granted a five-year tax exemption, and funded construction of the Culture Center.  But if the “industrial” label was strategically necessary, Yi and other leaders found it unpalatable; as they put it: “We have attempted to overcome the uninspiring characteristics of an ‘industrial development’ by incorporating the dynamic characteristics of a ‘city.’”
Depending on how one looks at it, the reflective-thought-in-spite-of-digital-distraction and “old-school”-cultural-production-among-the-rice-paddies vision, along with Bookcity’s potential to serve as a node in a proposed cultural “bridge” between North and South Korea, could be the “conceptual core” of Bookcity, and its rhetorical packaging as a viable economic zone, embracing dominant forms of zonal logic, could be merely a necessary compromise in ensuring its viability. Or maybe it’s the other way around: the “recovery of lost humanity” through the rediscovery of “slow” publishing, the promise of “getting back to nature,” the prioritization of “community above capital” — and the embodiment of these values in ambitious and floridly theorized design that simultaneously embraced the clean lines of contemporary architecture and the inevitable patina and decay of natural materials — maybe this was the aestheticization and marketing of what was, at its core, just another industrial zone.
Even the material landscape embodies the tensions between these ideologies: its individual “architectural gems” never coalesce into a coherent community, its workspaces don’t always prove conducive to the type of labor involved in book publishing, and its proposed workers’ housing ended up being created by a developer who priced it well above the means of your typical publishing company employee. So all the assistant editors and distribution facility workers make the half-hour trip north from Seoul every day. As I write in Places,
Some of the challenges Paju Bookcity faces in transforming itself into a “real” city, a vibrant center of literary life, can be traced in part to its urban design; but some are clearly due to its classification as a mono-functional industrial estate. There is, I would argue, a paradox in its founding premises: Paju exemplifies the effort to acknowledge book publishing as an industrial sector in need of special attention; yet it has also resulted in its physical segregation from the dynamic urban life and culture that has historically nurtured its content and reception, its authors and readers…. Book printing and distribution might benefit from consolidating resources on inexpensive land outside the city, but the more social aspects of publishing — interactions between authors, editors, translators, agents and readers; and the way these various interactions draw from and give to the city — will likely be sacrificed by a move to the wetlands near the DMZ.
What seems to distinguish Paju from so many other progress-through-sleek-modernization-oriented zones is its embrace of historical values. So I want to think a bit more about the roles of nostalgia and history in the zone. As I write in the article,
Baek Won Keun explained to me that the country has a huge market in private education, including courses to prepare students for college entrance exams — and the study guides used by private tutors comprise an astonishing 60 percent of the publishing market. This is hardly the classic republic of letters, where a broad readership hungers for great literature and philosophy and political debate; here the book industry is sustained by children cramming for standardized tests…. Perhaps there’s no longer much use romanticizing the centrality of books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets and posters to city life and urban form…. Today we no longer live in a world of Habermasian public spheres animated by the circulation of printed matter. The purposes and platforms of reading are changing so dramatically that publishing and literature are bound to occupy a very different physical place in our cities.
But Paju does at least remind us that publishing and literature have long occupied critical places in our cities. Bookcity is merely the latest development in a half-millennium-long tradition of urban zones that arise around print — to support its production, distribution, and consumption; and to foster “print culture.” Jianyang, Leipzig, Lyon and Boston have served as important publishing centers. There’s a solid body of scholarship on the place of place — local institutions and resources, local and regional distribution networks, the role printing has played in constructing local identity — in historical Ming dynasty Chinese publishing centers, including Jiangnan, Yangzhou, Fujian, Sibao, and Nanjing, among others. Bronwen Wilson also writes of early modern Venice as a center of print production — of how the making of books not only shaped the economy and landscape of the city, but also how the creation of new publishing forms influenced the way people explored and experienced their cities, and informed how cities represented themselves to their own citizens and to outsiders. Rose Marie San Juan offers a similar characterization of early modern Rome, paying particular attention to how print and its interplay with the city “proved a crucial site for reworking early modern subjectivities.” And some have written about the arrival of publishers and bookshops and bazaars around mosques throughout the Islamic world in the 16th and 17th centuries: “It was a tradition that stretched across the Indian sub-continent and Central Asia – the mosque, the market square and the story-tellers,” writes Majid Sheikh.
Bookcity is also part of a much longer trajectory in which the creation of media, and the formal and aesthetic properties of those media, have shaped the morphology of urban space. While those centers of print production were cropping up, the formal “zones” of cities were often taking inspiration from the book to make urban form and facades more “legible,” and folks were using book metaphors to explain how cities worked. Anthony Vidler writes of “the Enlightenment aspiration for the city to read like an open book,” the drive to render the city — Paris, in particular — “legible to its citizens, as if it were a three-dimensional treatise in civic virtue written on the facades of its institutions. To ‘read’ the city, to understand its apparent chaos and bewildering contrasts through the eyes of a writer, whether as topographical, historical, or critical discourse, became by the end of the century the favored mode of city lore.”
Thus, if we look at our historical printing centers, and their print-inspired urban development, as precursors to Bookcity, we might be able to situate the zone — particularly our media- and technology-oriented zones of today — within a much deeper history.
“Paju Bookcity: The Next Chapter,” Places (January 14, 2013)
on urban infrastructures for media production and distribution
I spoke about my summer research in Paju Bookcity, a “city for books” just north of Seoul, in wetlands near the demilitarized zone. This research was sponsored by both the Korea Foundation and the New School Provost’s Office’s Faculty Research Fund (which afforded me the opportunity to work with my fabulous research assistant, Ran Kim). Here are my slides. Our work later appeared in Places Journal.
All are welcome to attend:
Tuesday, October 16
Orozco Room, 66 W 12th Street, 7th Floor
Books and Broadband: South Korea’s Paju Bookcity
Just a few miles from the demilitarized zone in South Korea a new city has arisen — a city dedicated to books. Paju Bookcity attempts to write a new chapter for Korean history that weaves together publishing, architecture, and urban planning — all fields that have faced dramatic changes in the nation’s tumultuous twentieth century, and particularly in the past two-and-a-half decades. In this talk I’ll explore the place of Paju Bookcity, which is entering its second phase of development and planning for a third, within South Korea’s “Digital Dynasty.”
I spent the month of July in Seoul, researching Paju Bookcity with my research assistant Ran. I wrote about my Korean adventures here and here and here. A landscape and urbanism journal asked me to write an article about my research — and as I put the finishing touches on that article tonight, I thought it might be useful to review my “fieldwork” and post a few pictures, so they’re easily shareable with my editor. The following research agenda is a little stilted because I had to write this up to satisfy the requirements for two different funders’ final reports:
I conducted two on-site visits to PBC: one full-day visit on July 20 and one two-day visit on July 24-25. During that time I, with help from my research assistant/translator, employed the following methods:
- We toured – by car and foot – PBC and conducted spatial analyses of the site (e.g., examining the variety of architectural forms and facades and how companies made use of both their interior and exterior spaces, understanding how buildings are situated in relation to one another and how people who work and live in the area circulate throughout Bookcity, etc.);
- We documented PBC via photo, video, and audio;
- We toured the surrounding area – Heyri Art Village, the DMZ, various nearby “new towns” – to get a sense of the local landscape and of PBC’s design “context”;
- We spoke informally with shop owners and office workers, who told us what it’s like to work in Paju, and what new opportunities and challenges working in Paju has presented to them and their companies;
- We met on July 24 with Lee Hojin, Assistant Manger of PR and Marketing for the Bookcity Culture Foundation, who spoke with us about the original goals for Bookcity, how the Bookcity cooperative measures success, and its future plans for growth.
- We met on July 24, for nearly five hours (which was highly unexpected!), with Yi Ki-Ung, President of Youlhwadang Publishing and Chairman of the Bookcity Culture Foundation and the Cooperative of Paju Bookcity. Mr. Yi, the driving force behind Paju Bookcity since the late 1980s, told us about his inspiration for the project and recounted PBC’s coming into being. He also addressed the core values of Bookcity and his vision for future development, and while doing so, he shared with us various renderings for future design projects at PBC.
- We met on July 25 with Chang Ki Young, Director of the Korean Electronic Publishing Association, with whom we spoke about how digital media are changing the Korean – and global – publishing worlds, and how these changes are or aren’t reflected in the infrastructure of Paju Book City. As a tenant of PBC, Chang was also able to discuss what it’s like to work there.
- We met on July 25 with Lee Hwang-Gu, Managing Director of the Bookcity Culture Foundation and the Cooperative of Paju Bookcity, who told us about the mechanics of the project’s development, including its financing.
- We met on July 25 with Kim Young-Joon, Principal of yo2 Architects, who’s been involved with the design of PBC since the beginning, is leading the design of Phase 2, and has developed the macro-scale design scheme for Phase 3. He discussed the challenges the designers faced in Phase 1, discussed his plans for future development of PBC, and shared models and renderings for Phases 2 and 3. He kindly provided us with copies of the project’s design guidelines.
We also interviewed a few individuals in Seoul:
- On July 19 we were given a guided tour of the Kyobo bookstore and, afterward, met with Baek Won Keun, Chief Researcher of the Korean Publishing Research Institute, with whom we discussed the history and future of Korean publishing, and how that past and future have informed, and should inform, the evolution of Paju Book City.
- On July 23 we met with leading architect Seung H-Sang, one of the primary design coordinators for PBC, who discussed with us his own involvement in the design of Phase 1 of Paju Book City, his thoughts about contemporary Korean urban planning, and his hopes for the future development of Paju.
“Click/Scan/Bold: The New Materiality of Architectural Discourse and Its Counter-Publics,” Design & Culture 3:3 (November 2011).