Saturday, 16 April 2011

Wordy-Gurdy Press – publishers!

As I watch Melbourne turn autumnal, the rich colours of Wordy-Gurdy’s first publication seem to visibly transform the colour of the leaves beyond autumn, into the dusty, bright, lush reds and terracottas and magentas of India.
When I held the first copies in my hands a week ago, I looked at the book and stroked the matt cover coating and smiled. I played with the cover flaps – one of the features of the special feel I briefed the designer on – marking pages and then flipping back and forth, back and forth, watching the photographs change from Mumbai to beyond to New York City to Melbourne. I wished the author, Ian Cochrane, was here already, not tramping the wilds of New Zealand.

better than travel
I’ve never been to India, but I feel like I have now. As the writer Robert Hollingworth said:
Just a quick peruse, I thought, but an hour later I was still far away on the streets of Mumbai. I’ve never been there, but Ian Cochrane took me on an evocative journey as rewarding as the real thing – more so, since no tourist in India could gain the kind of personal insight intimately portrayed within these covers.
it all began with the editing
Ian and I began our author-editor relationship in 2009, with a novel he’s still working on and a conglomeration of short features, mostly travel – he’s an inveterate traveller. He got published in the Australian and we were off. We worked on some India stories, slashing their word length as stand-alone features, then we threw around the idea of publishing them as a continuous narrative. So some were lengthened, some were adapted and we had 13 stories.
Ian had first gone to work in Mumbai in 2007, when he was designing an onshore gas terminal on the Bay of Bengal. He worked there for four months and returned there in 2009 to complete the stories. So that seemed to fall into two parts, 'Mumbai' and 'Beyond', following a prelude set in 2009.

full colour
Ian didn’t want different paper stock for text and photographs so we settled on a satin finish with colour on every page.
The final design integrated colours, text and photographs, adding a henna overlay to the cover and repeating it throughout.

a hundred images
I’d envisaged the book as 13 stories, each bookended by two photographs. Ian had never planned for this book, though, so some stories had plenty, others none, and he called on other photographers to fill the gaps. The photos were placed so they worked together, both as collages and relevant to text.

text as form and function 
We wanted a beautiful object that felt good but also read smoothly. The font was all important, and that called for a serif font for body text and a sans serif for captions. Oh, and the captions also had to sit on the page without interrupting their grid of photographs. We managed an elegant solution to this, using colour as a signifier.

two maps
Next we needed a stylish map for each section, so many emails later we found and commissioned Martin von Wyss.

a pocket-sized coffee-table book
Ian wanted something you could slip into a pocket and pull out on the road. But it also had to be substantial enough for reading comfort and yet lean enough for carrying. So we settled on 198 x 128 mm with the cover flaps for page markers.

the stories
Indian Summers meanders through time and place, from this land of two million gods and back to Melbourne.
Ian’s nostalgic imaginings when he arrived in the mixed-up metropolis of Mumbai commingled with 1967’s Summer of Love – gurus, tie-dye and cheesecloth-clad women with flowers in their hair, youthful bearded men in patched jeans and psychedelic headbands.
For guidebooks he had an ancient, dogeared map bequeathed by his Scots grandmother, who always longed to see the Taj Mahal, and a remembered school atlas frozen in the days of the British Raj.

See more here.