Om Malik – interview with Louis (article and podcast).
"In the age of iBooks and Kindles, it's rare to see a book whose physical form is nearly as intriguing as the content itself. Such is the case with Change Is Good." – Uncrate
"The future of the internet, according to the guy who started Wired." – InsideHook
"Marrying the quality of letterpress with advances in typographical advances" – 8 Faces
About Change Is Good
Every generation has its creation myth.
This is the creation myth of the Digital Generation.
A novel about the Digital Revolution, written by Louis Rossetto, co-founder of Wired.
A masterpiece of the printer’s art —published by design legend Erik Spiekermann and printed on his own classic Heidelberg letterpress.
The proof of concept for a revolution in letterpress printing: Post Digital Printing.
- Co-founder and editor of Wired
- Web pioneer with HotWired
- Author of Change Is Good
- Legendary type and graphic designer
- Developer of Post Digital Printing
- Designer and publisher of Change Is Good
In the 1990’s, they came from all over the world. Young people with fire in their eyes and big dreams in their hearts flooded into South of Market, San Francisco, the epicenter of the Digital Revolution that was changing everything.
We now live like settlers in the world these young pioneers created. But for those young revolutionaries, the future was uncharted, full of wonder and risk. In the face of insurmountable opportunity, they had only their optimism, their grit, and each other.
Change Is Good is the novel that tells their story — at the precise moment when their utopianism was turning into the orgy of the Dotcom Bubble.
Written by Louis Rossetto, the co-founder and editor of Wired, the self-proclaimed “Mouthpiece of the Digital Revolution,” Change is Good is a labor of love, written over the past 12 years to reconnect to and celebrate the optimism and courage of the young pioneers who changed the world forever.
In many ways, the Digital Revolution perfectly parallels the ferocious disruption and explosion of knowledge birthed by the start of the Information Age – an age made possible by a then revolutionary new technology: the Gutenberg printing press.
What better way to release an iconic story of the Digital Revolution than to print it on a classic letterpress using a revolutionary new printing method: Post Digital Printing.
Change Is Good is a book. In many ways, the best quality book ever printed. It’s also the start of a new printing revolution – the first book Erik has published using Post Digital Printing that marries the advances of modern typography & design with the quality & artisanship of letterpress.
By supporting this project, you’re honoring the heroes of the past, helping support the future of printing, and claiming a piece of history with this Limited Collector's First Edition.
Thank you for your support!
– Louis & Erik
- Numbered First Edition
- It’s not just a book, it’s a stunning work of art — printed in Germany with the highest quality materials, by craftsmen, on a classic Heidelberg letterpress.
- It’s the first time Louis has written about the Digital Revolution since he left Wired in 1998.
- It’s only available on Kickstarter and will not be available in bookstores, on Amazon, or digitally.
- The book is a state of the art reading experience, designed by a legend. In many ways, it’s the summation of everything Erik has learned about book design in his amazing career.
- It’s literally the first of its kind — the proof of concept for Post Digital Printing, a new technology invented by Erik which will revolutionize the printing of high quality books — the power of modern digital typography married with the superior quality of letterpress printing.
For Book #1 and #1,001, see Campaign Update #5.
All copies of Change Is Good offered through this Kickstarter are Collector's First Edition. Each is sequentially numbered based on when you back the campaign and what reward level you choose.
The First 1,000 books have a black cover. The 1,001+ Continuation Series books have a red cover. (Photos of Continuation Series books coming soon.)
If you would like your book signed or dedicated, please select the appropriate reward level.
Posters are only available as an add-on to your pledge. Click the Manage Pledge button or try clicking HERE. Then manually add $113 to your pledge in order to secure a signed poster.
Change Is Good chronicles one tumultuous week crisscrossed by six hero-journeys:
- The CEO — trying to save his start up from the money people conspiring to steal it.
- The Artist — exploring the limits of her sexuality in order to make new art.
- The Hacker — fighting his suicidal and homicidal demons while attempting to save the world.
- The Banker — struggling to survive her ambition — and her industry’s corruption — and do the right thing.
- The Dealer/Game maker — scrambling to escape the gang trying to kill him, and reinvent himself as a computer game maker.
- The Journalist — wanting to tell the story of her times, which turns out to be a terrifying global conspiracy.
We think we know that period, because it looks so similar to our own: screens on every desk; a cellphone in every pocket; tattoos and gender bending; wild ass business plans for billion dollar businesses; computer gaming grown larger than Hollywood movies.
These young people built the companies that are now the model for start ups around the world. They dreamed the dreams of social, financial, media, and political transformation that still fill the heads of young people today.
The big difference between now and then is that for these young people, everything was new, there were no road maps. It was like being on a battlefield for the first time, full of high emotion and high energy precisely because everything was immensely scary. So while riches seemed tantalizingly within reach, soul crushing failure was always the likelier outcome, and an embarrassing ride back to the lives and small towns they were trying to escape.
Change is Good is about startups, the rave scene, internet porn, vulture capitalists, drugs, gaming, cypherpunks, backstabbing, and rivers of white hot cash flowing from a stock market becoming untethered from reality. Weaving in and out of the story are real personalities and headlines, from Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, to the sentencing of the Trade Center bomber, to Drudge breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal. No surprise, the heroes’ stories could have been pulled from the pages of Wired magazine — because Louis Rossetto was editor of Wired during the period.
Louis Rossetto and Erik Spiekermann are precisely the right people to create this special book. And they’ve know each other for 30 years.
Louis Rossetto is the co-founder and original editor of Wired. Wired’s mission was to write the first draft of the history of the Digital Revolution. Adweek called Wired “the hottest magazine” in the 90s. It was nominated for a National Magazine Award in each of the five years Louis was editor, and won twice.
But Wired didn’t just cover the Digital Revolution, it helped make it happen. It kicked off web media when it launched Hotwired, the first website with original content and Fortune 500 advertising — Wired literally invented the banner ad. John Brockman called Louis “The Buccaneer” in Digerati, his book about the leaders of the Digital Revolution.
Louis knows this story.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Erik is a design hero to his 320,000 Twitter followers. He’s built two global design companies, MetaDesign and Edenspiekermann, and created the preeminent source for fonts, FontShop. You’ve seen his work everywhere, from his ubiquitous Meta typeface, to his work for countless clients as diverse as Audi, The Economist, and Red Bull. It’s no surprise, he’s won every possible design award.
But Erik started his career at 17 as a typesetter in a letterpress shop. And now he is returning to his first love, letterpress printing. He’s started p98a Berlin, to publish and print high quality letterpress books. For the past two years, he has been working on new technology to create the best way to print high quality books in the 21st century. He calls it “post-digital printing.”
The Post Digital Printing process is the culmination of Erik's amazing career as a pioneer and his passion for typography and design.
We love print. It’s still the best medium for reading complex ideas and long stories. We love its physicality, its sensuality. We want to make the best reading experience possible today — a state of the art book that is also a piece of art. Something truly special.
As Erik puts it in his Publisher’s Foreword: “This is a story of how the digital entered and changed our world. But, as analog humans, Louis and I thought it appropriate (if a little ironic) to use traditional technology – which itself was considered revolutionary at its time – to make an old-fashioned book.”
Change is Good is special. Its size is generous. It feels luxurious. Its design is modern, its logo cool. Its cover is embossed, die cut, sophisticated black-on-black. Its paper is heavy, acid-free. It has a striking slipcase. It even has a bookmark ribbon.
And It’s printed in Erik’s own print shop in Berlin, on an original Heidelberg letterpress. Letterpress remains the best way to print text. What makes letterpress special is how the type is impressed into the paper. As Adrian Wilson put it, “It is the refraction of light in the well of impression that makes relief printing spectacular.”
Change is Good is a spectacular book.
- Post-digitally printed by Erik on his own classic Heidelberg letterpress in Berlin
- Thick 120gm MetaPaper Rough paper (acid free)
- Die-cut slipcase
- Die cut, foil stamped, black-on-black cover
- Book mark ribbon!
- Hand-assembled by German craftsmen
- 448 pages
- 2+ lbs
- 6.5 x 9.625 in (16.5 x 24.45 cm)
Letterpress printing was invented by Gutenberg in the mid-15th century. It was how the world printed until the arrival of offset in the 20th century. Offset beat letterpress for a variety of reasons (scale, color) — including its ability to incorporate powerful digital design and typographic tools, since designers could go direct from screen to plate without intermediaries.
Letterpress is currently enjoying an artisan revival because of its superior quality. Type on the page is richer, blacks are blacker, and there’s magic in the impression left in the paper. The shadow in the subtle well of the type adds a shimmer of life to the reading experience...
...But so far, these artisan letterpresses have been smaller presses, and hence are rarely used to print books.
For the past two years, Erik has been working with a handful of engineering nerds in Hannover to bring letterpress into the 21st century by creating the first direct-to-plate laser cutter specifically for printing larger size sheets on letterpress. This laser cutter finally allows designers to marry the power of their digital tools to the quality of letterpress printing.
Post Digital Printing
“In the end, we did not invent any of the ingredients." – Erik
But Erik brought them together to create a commercial solution for high quality letterpress book printing — just like Apple did not invent the smartphone but made the first one that combined all the features into a viable consumer product. The key was realizing that polymer plates, which had been used for years in other solutions, could be how they go direct from screen to press. The direct-to-plate process has never been considered capable of producing metal-backed letterpress plates for anything beyond wedding invitations and business cards. Nobody dared and so everybody deemed it impossible. It took knowledge from many people, plus some crazy engineers at Laser Systems Hannover, to create a solution.
Since the start of 2016, Erik and his team developed and integrated four different technical solutions to bring direct-to-polymer plate to commercial letterpress, and reinvent letterpress book printing for the 21 century.
1. Evolving the laser-cutter, originally developed for low quality Flexo printing, to include auto-focus over the entire width of the large polymer, metal-backed plate. A fresh-air intake had to be added for cooling and additional suction pipes to vacuum away the carbon burnt off by the laser.
2. Creating new rollers for the press with a specific consistency. The press had to run at a minimum speed or else the rollers would sag in the center, resulting in uneven inking.
3. Developing a large magnetic base (52x72cm), with hundreds of strong magnets, to hold the metal-backed polymer plates in position on the Heidelberg, and then a method to remove them again without breaking them — the magnets will not release the plate easily! Plates can now be changed within minutes and only need small adjustments to their alignment before a new plate can be printed.
4. Formulating custom ink from scratch because available rubber-based and offset inks are too oily, smear, and don’t achieve the deep black required for Post Digital Printing.
Erik spent over a year testing lasers...
... and other devices before he chanced upon this small company in Hannover who agreed to work with him to develop the plate cutter. They delivered the first laser cutter in April, but it took three months of hardware and software improvements before they could reliably produce plates.
Not all books will be printed this way. But the very best will want to be. Believe it or not, there are a lot of classic letterpress machines out there that are big enough to print signatures of eight pages, not all have gone to scrap. Now Erik’s laser cutter offers smaller print shops the ability to make books that are better than the best done via offset.
Change is Good is the first “post digital” book to be published by Erik through his p98a Berlin imprint.
Campaign pre-marketing, strategy, design, and marketing by Crowdlift.
PR by Proper Propaganda.
Additional end of campaign advertising support by Jellop.
Risks and challenges
Both Louis and Erik have invested considerable time and money in the making of Change Is Good. They are committed to seeing it published and delivered into your hands.
The printing process has been vetted with two smaller print runs of local books in Germany. Change Is Good will be the first significant quantity of books printed with the Post Digital Printing process. The #1 concern is the quality of the final product. While the team does not expect any issues to arise, there is always the possibility of delays in shipping due to unforeseen challenges during printing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)