About this project
Video Credits: Edited by Rian DeVos - Footage by Aki Rodic, Chris Lauritzen, Chris Trumbull, Rian DeVos, Sunny Oh - Printing and Binding by The Key - Letterpress by Lady Bones - Photography by James Han - Music by NIN (Ghosts 34)
Welcome to Epilogue's first project, a new edition of the 1884 classic Flatland.
What is Epilogue?
Epilogue is a design and publishing studio exploring new takes on some of the world's best literature. Aimed at the intersection of art, technology, and text, the studio draws from a variety of creative backgrounds in order to create contemporary editions that are thoughtfully designed and carefully produced. At the center of each edition is the physical book, a form to which Epilogue has a permanent, but not exclusive, commitment.
The studio was founded in the fall of 2014 by Chris Lauritzen, a reader and designer who left his job to work towards what has been a persistent dream throughout his career - to spend his days working with good content and sharing it with others. Flatland is the first edition to come out of that work.
What is Flatland?
Flatland is a brilliant work of satire written by Edwin A. Abbott, a British educator and Shakespearean scholar of the 19th century. Set in a 2-dimensional world inhabited by various polygons, Flatland is a strange mix of philosophy, geometry, and fantasy that punches well above the weight of its modest page count. The story addresses heavy issues like slavery, sexism, and class warfare, but with a wit and sense of play that has continued to provoke and entertain readers of all ages for over 130 years.
Since its initial publication, Flatland has had a significant impact on western culture. It is considered a precursor to the rise of science fiction in the 20th century, and past editions have featured introductions from writers such as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Carl Sagan did a segment about Flatland on Cosmos, and Wired Magazine recently featured it as a reference for the movie Interstellar. It remains an influential work of English literature and an unbeatable introduction to the concept of alternate dimensions.
Why a new edition?
For all its influence and staying power, Flatland is a relatively obscure work, always hovering around the fringes and receiving little love from the publishing industry at large. Its current circulation is composed primarily of cheap trade paperbacks, with scarce attention paid to design and production. We wanted to give it something better.
We've spent a lot of time working to create something new for Flatland – not a wild reimagining, but something true to the original spirit of the work with a fresh point of view and careful attention to detail. We hope our efforts will expose new readers to this great little book, and give existing fans an edition they can get excited about.
What's different about this edition?
The Epilogue edition is beautiful, durable, and informative. Its features include:
- A 50 page visual appendix full of new diagrams and illustrations which dive deeper into the rules, concepts, and humorous goings on of Flatland
- A beautiful hardcover slip case with a foil stamped title and diagram of a tesseract
- A sewn binding that is more durable than glued bindings and allows the book to open flat without damaging the spine
- A Tyvek cover and spine which keeps the book soft and supple but is also water-resistant, tear proof, archival, and recyclable. The cover is offset printed in metallic silver on black.
- A Kickstarter only bookplate that includes a unique backer number for each book. We are experimenting with ways to stamp the bookplate directly onto the book rather than sticking something to the page.
- The A. Square Memorial Library of Shapes and Dimensions (see below)
The A. Square Memorial Library of Shapes and Dimensions
In addition to the physical book, we want to bring Flatland into the browser, where it will be more widely accessible and where we can do some new things that were never possible in Abbott's time.
We are extremely lucky to be collaborating with Jono Brandel and Aki Rodic, two amazing digital artists behind such projects as Patatap, Rome - Three Dreams of Black, and Unnumbered Sparks. They will help us create an open source digital library of shapes and dimensions, named in honor of A. Square, the protagonist of Flatland. This free library will allow students and other inquisitive individuals to browse and interact with geometric shapes across four dimensions, from a single point in 0D, to hypercubes and pentachorons in 4D. The mathematical parameters of each shape will be on display, and the code that generates each will be hosted on github for anyone to use. We've started sketching out the basics, and you can follow development at libraryofshapes.com.
We were quite surprised to learn that the domain libraryofshapes.com was available, and that an interactive index of basic geometric shapes is not already accessible on the web. We hope our library will be of interest to many people, regardless of their familiarity with Flatland, and that the Library of Shapes and Dimensions will pay homage to the educational commitment of both Edwin Abbott and A. Square, and will become a flashpoint for greater exposure to Flatland. The story will be hosted on the site, free for everyone to read in its entirety, and though the book and the site may have lives independent of each other, we hope each can enrich the experience of the other.
Why the Kickstarter?
We want to share our edition of Flatland with others, but we're small in number and smaller in financial resources. We need your funding and your enthusiasm to get us off the ground. Funds from the campaign will produce our company's first ever press run, and help us finish development of the Library of Shapes. The success of this project will also help lay the foundation for future projects, covering more great literature and the occasional work of non-fiction. We've got lots we are excited to do, so if you're a fan of good stories, good design, and independent publishing, please grab a copy of our first edition.
About the Rewards
The Bookmark - Comes with every book. This bookmark depicts a single point becoming a hypercube in four steps. The illustration directly references the multi-dimensional journey we take as readers of Flatland but is also an analogy for reading in general. All good books have a way of building on themselves and shifting our perspective, dropping us off somewhere altogether different than where we started.
The bookmark measures 2" x 6", and is letter-pressed in silver ink on black paper.
The Poster - A commemorative poster which references the original publication date of Flatland and the date this Kickstarter project ends, which we will mark as the date of publication for our edition. The poster is size A2 (16.5" x 23.4"), and will be either screen or offset printed in silver metallic ink on archival black paper.
The Book - This edition of Flatland has been custom designed in almost every aspect save the typefaces. The prototype measures 5.125" wide by 7.25 inches tall, and is 224 pages. In addition to the original illustrations by Edwin Abbott, this edition will contain a 50+ page visual appendix, featuring new illustrations which further depict and explain the world of Flatland, and are referenced numerically throughout the book. The text has been carefully typeset in Baskerville and Futura, and has been given generous margins for personal notes and annotations.
The deluxe edition comes in a hardcover slipcase, bound in a handsome and durable book cloth. The front is foil stamped with the title and an orthographic projection of a tesseract. The book itself has a soft cover which is offset printed in silver on black Tyvek. We are still testing various combinations of cover materials but so far we have been very happy with look and feel of our Tyvek prototypes. We will continue to refine the cover as we move into full production.
Epilogue's Kickstarter Commitment
We can't do this without Kickstarter, and we hope the community will partner with us again and again as we launch new editions in the future. We want our backers to feel a sense of trust and shared ownership, and we will work hard to cultivate that. For all of our successfully funded projects we guarantee that we will ship to our backers first, before sending editions to individuals and businesses outside of the Kickstarter community. Furthermore, none of the copies sold after the Kickstarter run will be identical to the Kickstarter edition. Our Kickstarter editions are unique, and they are delivered first.
We also aim to treat our updates as an opportunity, not an obligation. We look forward to bringing you photos and videos of production, interviews with our collaborators, and lessons learned as we struggle to realize our vision. We will maintain a weekly update schedule, but because we are so small we ask for your patience if we fall behind on individual questions and correspondence. Still, we'll do our best.
Lastly, a word about quality. We have worked hard to present a vision of our project that is as close to final quality as we can achieve with our current resources. But it's just a start. With additional resources we would strive to make this edition better in every way. We hope to deliver some positive surprises, and want to look back with all of you in a few months time with the satisfaction of knowing that the Kickstarter edition of Flatland has upped its game through our combined passion and commitment.
Nice, but how else can I get my hands on Flatland?
Flatland exists in the public domain, and is widely available for free on sites like Project Gutenberg, where you can snag it in a variety of digital formats. If you prefer print, go for the excellent Annotated Flatland by Ian Stewart. There are also the cheap trade paperbacks mentioned above, though they can be hard to track down in local bookstores.
You've heard it before, because it's so so true. None of this would be possible without the support of good friends, family, and collaborators. Epilogue is extremely grateful to those mentioned below.
The Lauritzen Family (especially David and Alice) for absolutely everything. Sunny SunDuck Oh for all the design input, and for always being there and keeping things wonderful during the ups and downs. The Oh Family for support from afar. Jono Brandel and Aki Rodic for good friendship, design help, and beautiful code. Akash Trivedi for good counsel and patience as we encroached on his living quarters. Ed Sanders for helping us think it all through. Chris Trumbull for hearing our early pitch and returning it with excitement, and for always being helpful even when he thinks he's not. The Fivers. Grant Gold for promising to move back to SF in time for the book launch party. Jonathan Jarvis, Ed Kim, and Jonathan Lee for helping us pick a name and generally saving us from ourselves. Doug Fritz for helping us pick a first edition. Lady Bones Print Shop for making it real with our first prototype, and printing our bookmarks. The Key Printing and Binding for creating our final prototypes and letting us go all paparazzi. Rian DeVos Directing and Photography for last minute, weekend shooting and editing. James Han Photography for last minute, late night product photography. Ian Stewart, whose playful insight into Flatland inspired and informed our own obsession. The Great Discontent for giving us a big and beautiful stack of paper to fan the flames with. Julia and Jeremy for pointing us in the right direction. And finally a huge thanks to Sara Rowghani and Margot Atwell at Kickstarter for all their help.
Risks and challenges
If successful, this will be Epilogue's first ever press run at scale, and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way as we find the best fit for our production and fulfillment needs. We've got local production resources lined up for a small run of 300 books, which would cover all of our signed editions at least. Past that is uncharted territory. Delays in production and shipping are likely, but we've intentionally given ourselves more time than we think we'll need to deliver your books. The good news is that if we exceed our goal the price of producing each book will go down and we can invest even more heavily in the quality of each.
The other challenges will include copyediting the book, which we intend to do with professional help, and finishing up the illustrations for the visual appendix. We'd also like to find a talented writer and fan of Flatland to write a new introduction and a biography of Edwin A. Abbott.
We are confident there will be many more challenges that are unforeseen at this moment, and all we can do is promise to be transparent with all of you as we work through them. But work through them we shall.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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