Word-o-Mat is an indie publisher of new, short writing. Plus, a zine vending machine.
Word-o-Mat might just be the tiniest publisher of the tiniest books ever. We gather amazing new, short writing from around the world and want to get it out to readers in a totally new, analogue way.
AND WHAT WILL THAT BE?
Each Word-o-Mat edition is a tiny, handmade box filled with tiny, handmade books (5 x 7cm).
There are six books (zines) in each edition and each contains the work of a different emerging writer. The writers are from different places around the world and at different stages in their writing careers.
The first edition includes the likes of Kirsty Logan (Scotland), Henry King (UK/Sweden), Uel Aramchek (USA), Patrick Johanneson (Canada), and previously unpublished gems Luke Hilton (England) and Diana Dupu (Romania).
Word-o-Mat publishes 1 edition every 3 months, so 4 editions a year makes for 24 new writers published a year.
Now for the really fun part. The reason that Word-o-Mat editions look like cigarette boxes is because we've found an amazing way to distribute them. Meet the Word-o-Mat machine that the editions will be sold from:
We found this beautiful vintage Wurlitzer cigarette machine in a secondhand shop in Malmö, Sweden. We sweet-talked a cab driver into taking back to our workspace and the Word-o-Mat machine was born. It's full of cogs, springs, levers and screws. It has no motherboard - just mechanics inside. It's been out of action for decades. Many decades. When we opened it up for the first time we found some ancient sweeties inside that proved it.
We have the machine for one reason and one reason only. We love reading. In print. On paper. In our hands.
It's incredible how much more attention and care you take reading something in physical print compared to on-screen. So although publishing has changed and it's now a brave new world of easy self-publishing, this usually means having your writing available in some secret, cold niche of the internet where nobody but cyber-spiders can find it.
And when you do, it's hard as a reader to pay it the respect it deserves because there's the whole of the internet at your fingertips. A thousand kitten GIFs to distract you as you try to read the carefully-crafted words of another human who is trying to communicate with you.
So, in an effort to make reading special again we came up with the Word-o-Mat, which aims to make the whole experience of reading a treat. The books themselves, the way that you experience them, should induce the level of care and imagination that was put into creating the writing that they contain.
We decided to only publish offline. Analogue all the way.
We decided to hand make each book and each box. Each page is cut by hand with an exacto knife and sewn together on a sewing machine. Each box is glued and constructed by hand. It's finnicky work and requires millimetre precision but this is the kind of respect we want to give to the writing we publish.
We decided to make the experience awesome. Hence the Word-o-Mat machine. Getting things from vending machines is so enjoyable. The cluck and whirr of the mechanics. We were inspired by Distroboto in Montréal and wanted to give that experience to word as well as art objects.
For people that aren't in a city with a Word-o-Mat machine, we give the experience of having a brown paper package delivered to your door, with a hand-written address by us. Everyone loves getting post that isn't bills, right?
And for events and sunshiney places where the machine can't go, we have the Word-o-Mat team: a fleet of retro-costumed "cigarette girls (and boys)" who sell editions in person.*
* expect to see the Word-o-Mat team on the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland this August during the Edinburgh Festival.
A NEW KIND OF PUBLISHING
After working in the literature industry for years (running independent nights of readings and music, working at literature festivals, conducting funded research into the industry) and generally talking to a lot of different writers, publishers and distributers, we realised that some things needed to change.
We decided that the Word-o-Mat would prize some things very highly:
- giving writers control over their work
- celebrating poetry and short stories over novels
- publishing voices that are missing in mainstream publishing today
- nurturing writers, offering editorial support and engaging in a nuanced conversation about their work.
- taking the DIY, subversive ethics and production methods of zine culture and combining that with the literary, editorial rigour of more traditional publishing organisations.
- creating an international network of writers connecting with each other's work, helping to inspire and support each other from different stages in their careers.
- using amazing product and experience design to reach new readers.
DOES IT WORK?
Yes. We launched Word-o-Mat edition #1 at the FanzineIST Istanbul zine fair at the end of April and people loved it. We sold out of all the 50 editions we took and can't wait to make more. Here is a chart to prove it and a blog post about the fair:
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
We have the authors. We have the work. We have the design. We have the method. We have the makers. We have a mechanic and technician who are dying to start work on the machine and know exactly how long it will take and how much it will cost.
We just need your help to make this a sustainable reality. We're a tiny team of two and we're determined to make it happen. We just have to get it rolling. If we're successful, we'll use the funds to:
- get the parts required
- pay the mechanics to do the work
- pay the 10% Kickstarter and processing fee
- create 100 x Word-o-Mat edition #1 to put in the Word-o-Mat machine
- create and post the rewards for our wonderful supporters
- our estimate is £3,700, which is not a huge amount of money (big publisher revenue per year is about 35,322 times this) but its money we don't have. With your support, we can shake up the publishing world and get a bunch of new people reading and writing amazing, new, short work. Thank you so much for your support.
PLEASE HELP US MAKE THESE TINY BOOKS + THESE TINY BOXES AND RESUSCITATE THE BEAUTIFUL, CLUNKY WORD-O-MAT MACHINE <3
Risks and challenges
We're possibly the tiniest publisher of the tiniest books. Our team is very small - we're two permanent members with a team of temporary volunteers behind us - but we're determined to continue printing and making these tiny books of short writing.
Independent publishing is a challenge in terms of printing and distribution costs and we have the added challenge of an intricate making process. However, we have the skills, we've tested the market and we're incredibly excited to put the work in to making these editions of tiny books a sustainable reality. Now we just need to raise the funds to be able to distribute them as they were meant to be distributed: from a beautiful, clunky Word-o-Mat machine.
Please help us to make it happen and thank you for your generous support. We are hugely grateful for anything you can contribute.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)