Finding Harmony: Blending The Arts Of Jazz & Literature

So very much has happened since we last updated the progress of this project. First, and perhaps most importantly, we last mentioned that the book previously referred to as Mastersounds was in the midst of being renamed for publication. It is our pleasure to announce that our entertaining and informative upcoming book will be titled Rhythm in the Rain: Jazz in the Pacific Northwest. Also since our last update, we adopted a wonderful cover designed by Ooligan alumna Erika Schnatz. By February, this cover will be visible on bookstore shelves throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Getting into the nuts and bolts of the project, author Lynn Darroch is currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on his manuscript. This means that within the month, the process of designing the book’s interior should be underway. Preparing all the elements for the final product has been a demanding process only made possible by a determined author, a steadfast editing team led by Ooligan’s Olenka Burgess, and many others who have put countless hours into hunting down photographs that will properly complement the text. It is also with great pride and appreciation that we announce the author of the book’s foreword: nationally renowned jazz icon and Portland State University music instructor George Colligan.

After taking this project over, I quickly realized that to produce a quality book requires the hard work and care of countless people working behind the scenes. It would be nearly impossible to name and thank everyone who has made it possible for this book to continue evolving into what it will become, but I would like to take a moment to give appreciation to my predecessor, Margaret Schimming. For over a year Margaret molded an idea into a project, and a project into a reality. The Rhythm in the Rain team simply wouldn’t be what it is today without her guidance and vision. This book has been a beast of a project—one of the most challenging that Ooligan Press has undertaken—but the finish line is in sight, and we are giddy with anticipation to share it with jazz lovers everywhere.

Artists’ Books

Amid discussions over the future of the printed book and the inevitable transition to digital reading, there runs a current of publishing that centers around the idea of the book as an artistic medium. Artists’ books can be difficult to define: they may be produced as a unique object or as an edition of many; they span a vast range of form and content; and they may push the boundaries of what is considered a book. In essence, though, an artist’s book examines and responds to form and content in equal measure.

Here in Portland, we have some fantastic resources for those interested in making artists’ books: you can learn to make paper at Pulp and Deckle, learn basic typesetting and letterpress printing at the IPRC, and gain access to a full studio of letterpress and bindery equipment at Em Space (they are looking for new members, too!). We even have a dedicated book arts gallery, 23 Sandy. But if you happen to be in the Bay Area this February 8–11, you’ll have the chance to attend the CODEX International Book Fair and Symposium, the largest event of its kind in the world. The event occurs every other year, and brings together leading book artists and fine presses from all parts of the world. Robert Bringhurst, who wrote the typographic bible most of us Oolies read in our book design class, says of the event:

The [biennial] Codex gatherings, held since 2007 on the shores of San Francisco Bay, are the most important symposia in the world for those concerned with the arts of the book. The Book Art Object anthologies—of which there are now two—are the substantial printed records of these occasions. No one who cares about books and their fate in the present world should be without them.

Many of us booklovers are adamant that the printed book is here to stay; but as we move more and more toward ebooks and digital media, it is interesting to consider taking advantage of the physical properties of printed books in a more intentional way, like this take on Dangerous Liasons by Éva Valicsek. (Whether or not this would unduly complicate the reading experience is yet another discussion.) While artists’ books are at the extreme end of formal experimentation, I think we’re going to see a lot more “special edition” books with high-end production values. In much the same way that vinyl records often come in deluxe packaging and include a digital download, I could easily envision an increase of deluxe books bundled with an ebook download.

Although it won’t exactly be a special edition, here at Ooligan we are embarking on our most ambitiously designed book to date: Mastersounds. Since the book will include numerous photos, we will need to put lots of thought into how to lay everything out. And who knows—since jazz in the Pacific Northwest is the subject matter, perhaps we will decide to incorporate some design ideas that reflect the improvisatory nature of the genre.

Enhanced Ebooks are Taking to the Clouds

For our upcoming title, Mastersounds: A Portrait of Jazz in the Pacific Northwest, featuring pictures and interviews with luminaries of the Northwest jazz scene, Ooligan Press was curious if we could do an interactive ebook. We imagined audio, videos, and clickable content, with maps and location-based factoids. Because of the high cost of producing interactive ebooks, along with cross-platform compatibility issues, we set our sights on three new companies offering cloud-based enhanced ebook platforms.

First was Inkling, which offers its Habitat software for free. Users choose a template, build their content, and upload it to the company’s cloud-based service. Once there, the content can be accessed online from any browser, through Inkling’s Axis mobile device app, or integrated into the user’s own website or branded reading app using Inkling’s Latitude software. While Inkling offers free templates, there is a monthly fee, on top of which it charges extra for custom templates, staff training, and integrating user systems with their own. It should be noted that Inkling is the preferred ebook publishing choice of both Pearson and McGraw-Hill.

Next up we looked at Creatavist. Like Inkling, the software is free and users are responsible for transferring and enhancing their own material. The users’ material is then accessible on the company’s website and available through its app. However, at the premium Pro service level, Creatavist offers users the ability to create their own custom reading app for distributing content (which may be subject to further App store distribution fees). Creatavist also autogenerates unenhanced ebooks to be sold in the Barnes & Noble, iBook, and Kindle marketplaces (where they are subject to royalty fees of 30 to 70 percent).

Lastly we looked at Kotobee, from Cairo, Egypt. Like the other two platforms, Kotobee offers its software free, and users enhance and upload their own content. And, like Inkling, it offers free templates, but charges for custom work. Kotobee ebooks can be read on its Kotobee Reader software, online, or the entire book can be converted to an iOS app––at $75 for each conversion, with an additional $80 fee for users without their own Apple developer accounts. However, their highest tier package does include 400 Android app conversions at no additional cost.

All of these platforms are extremely capable of distributing high-quality enhanced ebooks with easy-to-use software and extensive support, but each comes with a hefty price tag––something that makes integration with small publishers like us an issue. Inkling doesn’t list its service prices, but a short phone call to one of its representatives elicited a per-month quote in the four digits, making Kotobee and Creatavist the bargain deals here, at $2,750 per year and $250 per month, respectively. Still, bargain or not, after printing, marketing, and distribution costs for standard print books has been applied, these kinds of additions aren’t exactly feasible for small publishers. However, a change in ebook distribution is clearly on the horizon, and it likely won’t be long before we all find our heads in the clouds.

Renaming the Project

As we continue to work through the developmental edits of the Mastersounds manuscript, it is now time to begin considering picking the final title for the book. The team and the author are currently hard at work developing possibilities for this name change, but we want to get a wider opinion. That said, on March 2, 2015, the Ooligan website will feature a public poll to help us choose the title of the book. Your voice matters, and we want to hear it! We will keep everyone updated as we get closer to opening the votes.

The team is also working away on two grant applications, getting some final marketing plans developed, and continuing the copyedit of the Brew to Bikes reprint. We have a very busy time ahead of us, but we are all raring to go.

Updates

The copyedit for Brew to Bikes is underway! We took the most up-to-date ebook file and exported out all the XML coding so that we could work with the text only. We are also developing a tracking sheet for all of the photographs so that when we lay out the text in the new format, we will know where everything goes.

Photo research for the Mastersounds project is continuing. We are gathering a variety of portraits of musicians and landscapes of the changing cities, which will enhance Lynn’s manuscript. This research has helped develop the team’s understanding of the history of jazz, allowing for us to create more specific marketing plans.

Last week, we finished the final design of the t-shirt, which will be revealed at the launch of the crowdfunding campaign, and this week we are developing a few grant applications that we feel match the project.

Working on a Variety of Projects

As the team awaits the fully drafted manuscript of the Mastersounds project, we have been working on a variety of smaller tasks for various Ooligan projects. We have assisted with spreading the word for Write to Publish, which is coming up on January 31st, to local universities. We have been working with the marketing department to continue developing our list of library contacts. And most recently, we will be working on updating Brew to Bikes by Charles Heying.

For the Mastersounds project, the team has completed the pitch video that we will also be revamping into a book trailer when we are closer to launch. We wanted to create the video to promote the book on a variety of platforms and provide a visual element to connect readers with our author.

Over the next few weeks, we will be focused on editing both the Brew to Bikes reprint and the Mastersounds manuscript.

Creating Ooligan’s First Crowdfunding Campaign

The Mastersounds team is in the midst of finalizing the details of the crowdfunding campaign, and we will be ready to launch it around the beginning of February. Developing a funding campaign has been an interesting experience. The elements of the campaign that we have focused on are the social push to inform the vast jazz community of the new project. We are also in the midst of creating a jazz inspired t-shirt that will be able to be purchased through a donation to the project.

The reasoning behind our choice to use Mastersounds as the premier crowdfunding project is because we wanted to be able to connect with our local and national musical counterparts and give everyone a chance to help make this book, which will be one of the few that looks specifically at the Pacific Northwest jazz culture, the best it could possibly be.

Currently, we are waiting on the first full draft of the manuscript to be submitted. The Mastersounds team, along with the editing department, will then spend a few weeks looking closely at the content. I’ve had a sneak peak from the author and I can only say that I am very excited for what this book is going to end up being. We still have a long road ahead, but I know that it will fly by with the help from the community and the constant creative skills of our author and the Ooligan team.

The Mastersounds team is in the midst of finalizing the details of the crowdfunding campaign, and we will be ready to launch it around the beginning of February. Developing a funding campaign has been an interesting experience. The elements of the campaign that we have focused on are the social push to inform the vast jazz community of the new project. We are also in the midst of creating a jazz inspired t-shirt that will be able to be purchased through a donation to the project.

The reasoning behind our choice to use Mastersounds as the premier crowdfunding project is because we wanted to be able to connect with our local and national musical counterparts and give everyone a chance to help make this book, which will be one of the few that looks specifically at the Pacific Northwest jazz culture, the best it could possibly be.

Currently, we are waiting on the first full draft of the manuscript to be submitted. The Mastersounds team, along with the editing department, will then spend a few weeks looking closely at the content. I’ve had a sneak peak from the author and I can only say that I am very excited for what this book is going to end up being. We still have a long road ahead, but I know that it will fly by with the help from the community and the constant creative skills of our author and the Ooligan team.

Flipping the Project Plan

Hello all,

During the last two weeks, the Mastersounds team has been working on researching and creating a marketing strategy that will be used near the launch of the book. This plan encompasses book reviews, podcasts, and important people that we think will be excited about the content and will help spread the word of the book. While marketing is generally completed at the end of a project schedule, we decided to push this part before production because of the amount of time that we want to dedicate to the design.

Along with creating the marketing plan, the team is on its way to finishing up our project video that will introduce everyone to our amazing author, Lynn Darroch. We were happy to have the assistance of the PSU Jazz school to display some of the music that we have in the Pacific Northwest.

Looking to the future of the project, we are getting closer and closer to seeing what the final book will be. It is exciting to work on a project as community-centered, and the timeline for this project has allowed Ooligan as a whole to develop and add to its unique set of skills.

Backlist to the Future: Dreams of the West

With the release date of Ooligan’s upcoming book, tentatively titled Mastersounds, quickly approaching, we prepare to once again look at how our cultural history has shaped this place we call home. Mastersounds will show the rich history of jazz throughout the Pacific Northwest with a specific focus on Seattle and Portland. This new text, written by local jazz legend Lynn Darroch, will be rich with textual and visual pieces of the Pacific Northwest’s musical past. While Mastersounds is still many months away from hitting a bookstore near you, to get a glimpse of what the final text may look like, you need look no further than Ooligan’s 2007 title, Dreams of the West: A History of the Chinese in Oregon 1850-1950.

Like Mastersounds, Dreams of the West is a visual exploration of how the Oregon that we know today came to be. Accompanied by a plethora of informative text in both English and Chinese characters, this book shows us an Oregon that grew out of the blood, sweat, and tears of the Chinese immigrants whose fingerprints can still be seen throughout the architecture, cuisine, and art of the Pacific Northwest. Despite weathering terrible conditions and prevalent (often state-sanctioned) discrimination and harassment upon their arrival to America, the hardy and determined Chinese population that arrived in Oregon during the 19th and early 20th centuries steadily carved out a place for themselves, proving to be arguably the most significant foreign culture to impact what our state would eventually become. With the help and cooperation of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and The Oregon Historical Society, Ooligan was able to produce a title that gives an identity to the often nameless and faceless immigrants who helped to build a community of people that, regardless of race or origin, can simply identify as Oregonians.

Down to the book size and the heavy focus on historical images to accompany the text, Dreams of the West will serve as a sort of bellwether to the design and direction that Mastersounds will adopt. Even more than the physical features of the upcoming Mastersounds, Dreams of the West is the precursor to one of the most important messages that we here at Ooligan aim to deliver: through our unique past and identity, we are like no other place in the world. Whether it be jazz, Chinese immigrants, or anything else that makes the Pacific Northwest what it is today, Ooligan Press will strive to give appreciation to the things that make us who we are.

Unique Contact Lists

Hello all,

Over the last few weeks the team has been working away on developing a contact list of media and places that we could collaborate with to promote the project. While we at Ooligan do have a general list of people and places we contact for each title, every project has a unique theme and feel that requires some thinking out of the box.

In the case of Mastersounds, we have to look beyond the print and online media for nonfiction titles and more into where the readers spend their time. We have added jazz clubs, famous hotels, festivals, musicians, and more to our contact list and it is still growing.

We also use this list to promote other important events in the jazz community. Most recently, the Portland State University Jazz Series has kicked off and Chad McCullough (trumpet) will be performing live in Lincoln Hall, RM 47, from 5-7 pm. Stop by to hear some great music!

Work continues on developing a city tour and I will update everyone on where the team is with that next time.