A 21st-century approach to publishing

A senior English major makes and publishes handmade books.

Senior English major Joshua Dale started a “micropress” that specializes in handmade books. WILL STICKNEY FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

Joshua Dale named his publishing company after a major road that runs by his house, and the meaning the road holds for him.

“The open road aspect mirrors a choose-your-own-adventure story, or plotting your own course,” said Dale, a senior english major.

Last November, Dale opened Thirty West Publishing House, a DIY publishing company based on Main Campus, in an effort to distribute his work and the work of other local artists and writers.

Dale had a stand at PHILALIA, a fair held in Tyler earlier this month where local bookmakers and independent publishing companies sold their products. Thirty West will host a poetry contest open to the public for the next few weeks.

Dale wrote his first poem in 2003, when he was 12, about how much hope and possibility is present during the moment a clock strikes midnight.

Dale started self-publishing after he collaborated with a California-based vanity press, a type of publishing house where authors pay to have their work published.

These vanity presses, Dale quickly discovered, were focused more on profits than engaging with the artists and the art directly. He soon left that to form his own publishing company.

Dale prefers Thirty West’s “handmade chapbooks” because they foster a more intimate relationship with the text.

“Our goal is to leave a lasting impression with our literary artists, as well as those that appreciate the craftsmanship of handmade goods,” Dale said in an email.

This approach is far different than that of the vanity presses, in which authors send their work, receive limited feedback and often pay exorbitant sums of money to have their work published.

For Dale, this meant not only writing all of his work but also hand-binding every book and reaching out to local artists to help with cover design. Dale’s most recent piece, “Transdifference,” came out in August and is a collection of prose, poetry and “stream-of-consciousness” short fiction. All of Dale’s work is published in limited edition batches — about 50 copies each.

Dale’s “stream-of-consciousness” approach starts with daily journal entries, in which he jots down words and phrases, without piecing together a real narrative and without employing a traditional linear structure.

Dale adds little touches to enhance the overall reading experience. The limited edition prints of “Transdifference” have coffee stains, cigarette burns and wax spilled on the pages. The books are bound by single strings made of hemp and the covers are made of pine fiber paper.

“Transdifference” feels and looks exactly like a journal and is intensely personal by design. The production effects used enhance the themes of the text itself.

“I think Thirty West is doing something important by getting back to an outlet for artists to share their work in a more community formal manner which is rarely seen on social media,” said Thom Young, the author of “Don’t Wish Me Luck,” a book Thirty West published last spring. “The artist is part of the process, not an outside observer, and that’s important for authenticity.”

Jessica Barros has been helping Dale with the visual components of the chapbook, like the cover design and illustrations, and said Thirty West’s team consists of “artists who respect and value the craftsmanship and process of building a book into a masterpiece.”

“To witness the final product fulfilling the pinnacle of the literary artist’s design, that feeling is what’s truly satisfying,” Barros added.

Will Stickney can be reached at william.stickney@temple.edu.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.