don't bother starting a small press - it's not "essential" (1 Viewer)


lothario speedwagon
i got this email from a small publisher in france from whom i've bought a couple books. i hope one day to have the same inflated sense of my own importance...

Kaugummi Books : 2005 - 2011 (things coming to an end)
After 7 years of activities, I announce the end of Kaugummi Books. This is not sad : as you all know, a new birth comes along with every death.

I basically started Kaugummi as a bored 19 years old student looking for something more exciting to do after class. This period coincided with the huge boom of the French drawing scene and as you can imagine I was more than happy to be a part of the international recognition process of this group of artists I loved. A lot of awesome publications have been put out these years (2005 / 2006) and I love to remember how Kaugummi rose in this great publishing context.

A context in which I was a newcomer in Rennes and I didn't know so much about zines besides some self published local comics and a bunch of punk-hardcore zines my friends made by themselves. I didn't really know how to layout or print anything even on a Xerox, and - more importantly -, I didn't imagine how many people might be interested by this medium. Everything went fast and I feel a bit ashamed by all the mistakes I had to make to learn how to do things but I'm really fond of the naive spirit that animated me back then...

I love to remember how the French DIY scene was united then. A scene constituted by confirmed artists excited by this upcoming generation of publishers discovering this infinite range of opportunities. A scene focused on the same goal and driven by the same motivations.

Is this scene still alive ? Some of us became more professional, some others more DIY. Some began to question the medium while others find an extension to their publications through exhibitions.

Kaugummi grew in that context and it was really more fun and stimulating to work then as opposed to what I see on the internet nowadays and how all the newborn publishing companies seem to work alone even if they all take part in the same "zine exhibitions" every week. And maybe I'm wrong but I really feel like publishing zines a few years ago was in many ways more "alternative" - you know what I mean - than today. And even if a lot of companies from the nineties had already begun to democratize this thin printed object, it was still kind of new for a lot of readers and booksellers. And maybe that's why the notion of being united was really prominent back then.

It's really hard to realize how quick this zine-question evoluted within a couple of years. How many independent / zines publishing companies have emerged these last few years ? I can't help but wonder if this fast rise is ultimately a good or a bad thing... Of course being part of a scene in its fast expansion period is super exciting, but what happens when you see this scene becoming autophagic ? I mean, what's the point of being a zine publisher among so many zine publishers ? What makes the difference between one and another when we all have the same influences and the same defects ? What's keeping this medium so particular when so many "artists" have the sudden similar passion for zines and artist books ; when you realize that the zine is becoming the new academism ?

I started Kaugummi as a platform for the artists I loved that couldn't be published anywhere else. I was excited by the idea of publishing something that wouldn't exist without my structure. I don't really know if I'm just making some assumptions or if I'm right but I feel like things have quickly changed over the years... I gradually lost the feeling of being like "essential" in the process of zine making and - more importantly - I slowly realized that I started to consider Kaugummi as something becoming a little less useful everyday regarding this whole "zine publishing explosion". I mean, a lot of projects I will never publish because I stop Kaugummi will exist anyway (in the zine form obviously). This simple idea is enough to comfort me in the choice of stopping publishing zines in the way I did during the last couple of years.

A lot of publishers are taking advantage of this medium's standardization. As I mostly worked with emerging artists I am aware that I was particularly lucky to be a zine publisher of the late 2000 as opposed to anyone who tried to run the same kind of project ten years before. But the market as well as the artists probably do not need one more zine publisher and that's why I have decided to stop the publishing house while it's still dynamic and economically healthy.

If we consider time as a cycle, I just feel like Kaugummi has come to an end and that it's time for me to move on to a new project.

I already have a lot of exciting plans on the way so feel free to subscribe to the mailing list if you want to keep posted. Meanwhile the remaining stock of Kaugummi zines and books is still available through the webstore.

I would like to thanks everyone who has followed and supported Kaugummi in any way through the past years. I sincerely appreciated that ! Some of you ordered every title I published years after years, you know who you are and I'll ever be grateful for your support !

New projects will be announced this fall. Stay tuned !
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I didn't come away with a bad impression of this guy. He's come to the conclusion that his company is no longer making a difference, so it's time to pack up. Doesn't every publisher get in the game to make a difference ? And when that feeling - and apparently that reality - disappears, isn't it time to move on ? He includes enough "maybe-I'm-wrong-but" phrasing to keep it on a humble level for my tastes. Just my opinion.
i guess it was his attitude that NO small publishers make a difference, not just his that has stopped making a difference. also, the suggestion that there are no undiscovered artists out there now who need him for exposure. there are a couple things that rub me the wrong way about that.
1) yes there are
2) simply having a website gives you way more exposure than 100 copies of a zine, so if you are making zines, that's kind of a weird goal unless you have an inflated idea of your own importance.
i guess it was his attitude that NO small publishers make a difference, not just his that has stopped making a difference. also, the suggestion that there are no undiscovered artists out there now who need him for exposure.
What I kept thinking when I read that ESL diatribe was that I'm sure there were people who felt the "scene" was played out before this kid even got into it. That's just the way of the world. Each new generation rediscovers the wheel (or the "zine," which for all intents and purposes has been around for 50 years).

His existential angst over the end of times does seem funny. I guess I find it more funny than irritating because he's not claiming that something I do is useless. I can see how it would rankle you. But then you have to consider the source. Just a pomo little dilettante making grand proclamations from an iPad at a cafe somewhere.

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