The Book Trust Prospectus

The Book Trust Prospectus

The Book Trust Prospectus
Edited by Benjamin Critton, Harry Gassel, Brendan Griffiths, Zak Klauck and Mylinh Nguyen
Softcover, 160 pp., offset 1/1, 4.25 x 7 inches
Edition of 500
ISBN 978-1-928570-15-8
Published by IFS, Ltd.

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The Book Trust, a site-specific publication and installation, was originally presented at the NY Art Book Fair, 5–7 November, 2010. During those days, the semi-fictional Investment Futures Strategy, Ltd., comprised of five graduate students from the Department of Graphic Design at the Yale University School of Art, offered an original publication for trade in a series of barters executed by its authors.

The Trust and the accompanying Book Trust Prospectus address matters of micro-economy and distribution, as well as prescribed versus perceived value. The project suggests a new currency specific to the setting of the Book Fair, a context in which a distinct set of commodities is exchanged by like-minded vendors in a finite space and time. It is only in this setting that a book could be posited as capital — a literal stand-in for the money that commonly exchanges hands at the Fair. Perceived worth is thus no longer dictated by edition or price, but instead by a trader’s subjective notion of the values they assign each book.

Over the three days of the Fair, the book, produced in a fixed quantity of 500, varied in value as each negotiation determined and redetermined its worth in the marketplace. With each transaction, the Prospectus assumed the value of the book for which it was exchanged. The traded commodities now comprise The Book Trust — a value-appreciating book bank. By trading with IFS, Ltd., participants acquired a single theoretical share of the bank, the Prospectus acting as a document of that transaction. In framing the project in a format similar to that of a stock exchange, IFS, Ltd. hopes that the Trust emphasizes the tenuous, abstract value of the book: as a designed object, as a medium for content, as a traded commodity, and as a symbol of participation in the project itself.

Prospectus
The Book Trust Prospectus is, in non-equal parts: a local currency, a stock prospectus for The Book Trust, an exploration into the nature of small-scale publishing and its presence at the NY Art Book Fair (R. Giampietro), a survey of precedented alternative currencies (B. Critton), a platform for hyperbolic re-representations of anonymous fiat money (R. Rozendaal), a foray into corporate branding and rebranding (Metahaven et al.), a proposal for a time-based repurposing of existing banknotes (N. Hirsch & Z. Kyes), an analysis of the current state of [art] book-publishing and -design (L. v. Deursen et al.), a venue for research into non-essential commodity futures like tulips and Beanie Babies™ (H. Gassel), a profile of independent art book vendors (Golden Age), and a podium for experimentation with anti-counterfeiting guilloché renderings (B. Griffiths & Z. Klauck). It is the story of its own making and financing as well as an evaluation of the context in which it was made and financed. The Prospectus is a 160-page, perfect-bound, one-colour book, offset-printed in an edition of five hundred by GHP printing in West Haven, Connecticut, USA.