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£3,443
pledged of £9,500pledged of £9,500 goal
118
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, April 22 2015 7:49 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated March 13, 2016

Observatory Press

Old words, new books. Specialising in science fiction and curating lost classics with contemporary illustration and writing.

Observatory Press

Old words, new books. Specialising in science fiction and curating lost classics with contemporary illustration and writing.

£3,443
pledged of £9,500pledged of £9,500 goal
118
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, April 22 2015 7:49 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated March 13, 2016

About

What is Observatory Press? 

The next cool thing in indie publishing

The Hackney Post, ‘Hackney’s sexiest new startups’

Observatory Press is a brand new independent press based in Hackney. We currently specialise in science fiction, illustration and curating lost classics. We believe in creating collectable, beautiful, physical books and supporting new writing and illustrating talent. ‘We’ are Nicholas Herrmann and Ella Chappell. We met while studying at the University of East Anglia. 

Nick writes comics and science fiction. His graphic short story, ‘Matters of Consequence', about the life and works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was published by Elbow Room in 2014. Nick is passionate about futurology in science fiction, and delivered a paper about J. G. Ballard and Isaac Asimov’s visions of the future at the University of East Anglia’s recent ‘The Science “New Wave” at Fifty’ conference.

Ella is a poet, with a particular interest in science, post-internet and collaborative poetry. Along with a filmmaker and choreographer, she won the Southbank Centre Poetryfilm Competition in 2014, and she is currently exhibiting a spoken word piece at 'Conditional Expressions' hosted by STCFTHOTS gallery in Leeds.

What are the books? 

To launch the press we are publishing three books that are now in the public domain, curating them with contemporary writing and illustration:

After London

After London is a speculative fiction novel by naturalist Richard Jefferies that hypothesises what would happen if a catastrophe were to decimate London. The result is a deeply sincere, heart-warming and heroic tale of medieval knights in the future. The original novel by Richard Jefferies is accompanied by a poetry afterword by Matt Merritt and enclosed in a beautiful cover illustration by George Chislett (who also designed our logo).

 The Clock That Went Backward 

The Clock That Went Backward is a collection of short science fiction stories by Edward Page Mitchell. Mitchell was a journalist who also wrote quirky, idiosyncratic and whimsical short stories which explore all manner of SF tropes. The original short stories are accompanied by an afterword of poetry by Harry Man and cover illustration by Natalie Kay-Thatcher.

 The Star Rover 

Jack London is one of the better-known names of the trilogy. We chose to print his work, The Star Rover, because it is irresistible in its portrayal of the depth and resilience of the human spirit, seen through the lens of a man on death row who travels in time and experiences many different existences. Many of the scenes in The Star Rover are re-tellings of real historical events, given the vivid and intoxicating Jack London treatment. The original novel is curated with an essay afterword by Benjamin Breen and a captivating cover illustration by Katherine Hearst.

How will they be nice objects? Seems like I could get these books for free on the internet...

We’re working with East London’s acclaimed Ditto Press to create incredible print objects that you’ll want to collect and keep forever. We’re using risograph printing instead of digital printing to give the ink warmth and character on the paper, and each book will be a slightly larger format to what you’re used to. Think about a record – you lie on your bed, listening to the music as you get lost inside the album art, and then afterwards you prop it on your shelf to admire. That’s what we want to do with our books.

There’s a whole bunch of amazing, inspiring and groundbreaking books buried in the public domain, and the websites that you’re supposed to consume them on don’t exactly make the experience enjoyable. We’ve painstakingly typeset each book and given them new layouts to revive them and make them awesome again.

£9,500 seems like a lot...

Well, we are launching a small publishing house! And we’ve thought this figure through very carefully – Observatory Press’ mission is to create beautiful objects, and to do that we need to use a slightly larger paper size, slightly nicer paper and a slightly rarer print process. We also wanted to launch the press with three titles instead of one, so you guys would have more books to read, and we didn’t want to print less than 250 of each, so that we’d be able to stock a few in our favourite book shops around London.

This set of three books aims not only to present some of the best of what has come before in our favourite genre – science fiction – but also to showcase the kind of artistic talent that we hope to nurture. We believe in always supporting our artists – we’ve paid all of the contributors straight from our own pockets. And we have dedicated a year of our spare time reading, discussing and planning to make sure everything is perfect for this Kickstarter. This means your money will be used for a cause that we are truly dedicated to.

I’m still on the fence... what else can you offer me?

Take a look at the rewards! We’ve got lots of other little bonuses, including your name in the credits, an out-of-this-world launch party, and limited edition collectable prints with an original story and illustrations.

And hey, if nothing tickles your fancy, but you still want to support a new independent press, you can do that too: just press the ‘Back This Project’ button and select ‘No reward’. Every little helps!

What’s next for Observatory Press, after you launch?

We have lots of plans for Observatory Press. We’d definitely love to release a second series of lost classics (we even have a few titles up our sleeve...), but we’d also really like to publish completely new work in the realms of science, futurology, poetry and SF. But before we get carried away with these crazy schemes, we need to successfully launch the press! That’s where you come in. 

A bit about our contributors:

Benjamin Breen is a writer, and is editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Appendix – a quarterly journal of experimental and narrative history. 

George Chislett is a freelance illustrator based in Bristol, part of the Drawn in Bristol collective.

Katherine Hearst is studying an MA in illustration at the RCA, and is a founder of Modern Times – a social commentary, graphic journalism magazine. 

Natalie Kay-Thatcher is an illustrator, educator and founder of Jiggling Atoms, an interdisciplinary science and illustration project based on the collaboration between artists and research physicists.

Harry Man is a poet, whose first pamphlet of poems, Lift, was published by Tall Lighthouse in 2013. Lift has been shortlisted for the ‘Best Pamphlet’ in the 2014 Saboteur Awards.

Matt Merritt is a poet with three collections, including The Elephant Tests, published by Nine Arches Press. He also edits Bird Watching magazine.

Stuart Ruel is an illustrator working in London. His illustration for Brave New World was shortlisted by the Folio Society (Top 25) in 2013.

Risks and challenges

We’ve made hundreds of lists and checked them all twice, and we’re confident about the amount we need to raise, and the deadlines we can hit. Having said that, life is fond of spanner-throwing, and there is a possibility that the books will be ready a little later than July. If this does happen, we just ask you to sit tight and don’t despair! We’re committed to creating these books and getting them to you post-haste.

There’s also the possibility that we raise more than we’re asking for, which would be absolutely amazing, and here’s why: every penny raised is going straight back into the press, so if we have more money to play with, we can do things like higher print runs, complicated and cool processes like embossing, and maybe even another book.

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, and if these books sound like things you want to own, select your reward on the right, and let’s try to make it happen together.

Thank you,

Nick & Ella

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £3 or more About $4

    MERCURY

    You’ll be helping to launch the press and you’ll become part of something really exciting. For the amount of time it takes for the universe to collapse in on itself, we will be grateful to you.

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    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    VENUS

    We will be eternally grateful AND we will show it by printing your name in the credits, in all three books!

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    Pledge £7 or more About $9

    EARTH

    You will get your name in the books AND you will receive a set of 3 limited edition risograph prints featuring an original short story by Harry Man and illustrations by Stuart Ruel.

    Each print stands alone as a beautiful work of art, but when the prints are combined, they reveal the complete story!

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    Pledge £10 or more About $13

    MARS

    You get your name in the books AND you’re invited to our grand launch event! And by ‘event’, we of course mean awesome party. Expect readings, signings, live music, a sci-fi film screening and more. Venue and date TBD.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £12 or more About $16

    JUPITER: IO

    You get your name in the books AND you get a copy of AFTER LONDON, the post-apocalyptic tale about medieval knights in the future! Featuring work by Richard Jefferies, George Chislett and Matt Merritt.

    The book also comes with the first third of an original story by Harry Man as a limited edition print, with an illustration by Stuart Ruel.

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    Pledge £12 or more About $16

    JUPITER: EUROPA

    You get your name in the books AND you get a copy of THE CLOCK THAT WENT BACKWARD, short stories about invisibility, cyborgs and, well, time. Featuring work by Edward Page Mitchell, Natalie Kay-Thatcher and Harry Man.

    The book also comes with the second third of an original story by Harry Man as a limited edition print, with an illustration by Stuart Ruel.

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    Pledge £12 or more About $16

    JUPITER: GANYMEDE

    You get your name in the books AND you get a copy of THE STAR ROVER, a heartbreaking, psychedelic tale of transcending time, space and one’s corporeal form. Featuring work by Jack London, Benjamin Breen and Katherine Hearst.

    The book also comes with the last third of an original story by Harry Man as a limited edition print, with an illustration by Stuart Ruel.

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    Pledge £30 or more About $38

    SATURN

    You get your name in the books AND Observatory Press’ COMPLETE first collection! That’s all 3 books, and all 3 limited edition prints!

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    Pledge £40 or more About $51

    URANUS

    Don’t be fooled by the name, this one’s a beauty. You will receive everything in the SATURN package PLUS an invitation to the aforementioned awesome launch party!

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    Pledge £45 or more About $57

    NEPTUNE

    Everything in URANUS (hehe) PLUS an intriguing mystery vintage science fiction classic! We’re completely obsessed with collecting pulp sci-fi gems that have stunning retro covers, and we’d love to share some of our favourites with you Neptunians.

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    Pledge £200 or more About $251

    PLUTO

    (We know what you’re thinking, but it totally is. In our hearts.)

    Wow! You get everything in NEPTUNE plus we will read your science fiction manuscript (prose or poetry), and provide you with in-depth, face-to-face feedback on your work. If we’re impressed by what we see, we will publish your work as part of our next series.

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Funding period

- (30 days)