Could an independent publishing company originate from a garage?
Well yes, that’s exactly how we began.
I wanted to construct a small publishing company, merging my passion for books, science and design. The seed had been planted, however I had not yet had that ‘eureka’ moment.
The idea emerged around two years ago, after reading “Fermat’s Last Theorem” by Simon Singh and “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. Until then, I was a passionate history-of-science books reader, and former Physics and Maths BS student.
As I was reading those two books, I thought of Newton’s Principia (Wikipedia). One month later, I started looking for my team and a company name.
Over the course of the next two years, follows a story of small eurekas.
Laia (website) was my first team member, I contacted her as she was a designer with who I had previously worked. We worked together on the reissue of Principia (product page) and the branding for my newly-founded publishing company.
With a very small budget (very), I needed to quickly get to grips with all that working within the publishing business entails (design a book, find customers, print that book, shipping). And all with no former experience (I was working as a freelance developer).
To Crowdfund or not to Crowdfund….
Using a crowdfunding platform would help us to test our ideas, showcase our book and create a community around our brand.
Crowdfunding was something I hadn’t done before, but I knew of Kickstarter, so I started pledging for other people’s projects and learning ‘the ropes’. What followed was six months of intense Kickstarter use and the decision to finance our first book in this way.
One detail remained unfinished. Our company still had no name!
A lot of nights and weekends were spent searching for a recognisable name with a meaning.
Who are we? We are a History of Science publishing company. History is about past, and through the years (future), current time becomes past.
Past is finite, and Leopold Kronecker (1823-1891) was a German mathematician who worked on number theory and algebra, and known as “the uncrowned king of the German mathematical world” in the 19th century. Kronecker defended “Finitism” a philosophy of mathematics that denies the existence of infinite objects.
Future is infinite, and John Wallis (1616-1703) was an English clergyman and mathematician.
He introduced the symbol ∞ to represent the concept of infinity.
From finite past to the infinite future… Kronecker Wallis was formed.
Spreading the Word
We needed to spread our reissue of Principia to the world. So after a lot of research I found a perfect match, Amy. A British PR with excellent skills and experience.
In the run up to our first Kickstarter campaign, we worked on texts, mock-up’s, photos, media contacts…we were ready.
The campaign (page) was a success; reaching our goal thanks to some supportive Twitter influencers, a spot of media coverage and a lot of hints and tips from the Kickstarter team.
Over the course of the next few months, we worked hard on completing all internal pages of the book and sent it to print.
Principia is a very special book for us. As you can see on our product page, it has a very particular editorial design; displaying many differences with other adult science books, we wanted to make a special product, both unique and beautiful.
The Crazy Idea
While Principia was printing, I started thinking about our next project. A lot of good ideas were born (some you may see in the future), but one eureka moment appeared when I was researching into Euclid’s Elements (Wikipedia).
I knew Oliver Byrne’s book (Wikipedia), but why didn’t he or anyone else attempt to finish it? And so our crazy idea began….
Laia started working on the book’s editorial design and concept, while I met with a retired PhD Mathematics university professor, who specialised in ancient greek mathematics and was an Euclid’s texts translator. We talked a lot about my idea – problems, strategies, team members – it wouldn’t be a reissue like Principia, it would be a content-generated book with a very complicated text.
The Elements Effect
Euclid’s Kickstarter campaign (page) was a major step for us and a big responsibility; to produce excellent work that successfully completed something Oliver Byrne had so long-ago started.
With the support of many Principia backers, pledges for Euclid’s Elements began. After a slow start we achieved our high goal: The Verge, Forbes, Kottke.org, Fast Company, The Public Domain Review and It’s Nice That! featured our book and support for our campaign intensified.
Work on our book began immediately and meticulously – it is complex work which requires a large team of professionals and is on track to be completed by the end of the year.
While Principia was being sent to print, another idea came to me after reading “The Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf (Who was Humboldt? Wikipedia). Upon researching into illustrations and drawings over the internet, I was time after time, always finding the same images.
So why not publish a book with beautifully curated images and a touch of our own editorial design? That was the seed that became “Illustrating Nature. The World Through the Eyes of Alexander von Humboldt” (Kickstarter page).
Until now, our work was focused on those who were interested in maths and physics – with Humboldt, we opened our work up to a new audience.
Our book which celebrates the wonderful work of Humboldt.
We are not a large publishing company, so we need stay moving, improving, thinking about and developing books, which we are truly passionate about. Our books are not mass, low-cost products; the paper, the binding – each element is carefully chosen.
Principia has just finished its second reprint, Elements is work in progress and Humboldt is finished.
Next steps? We are planning to publish a printed magazine (branding and editorial design is complete) and also to reprint a major book on the History of Medicine (top secret).
There is also one perfect match with Principia however, that we simply couldn’t avoid.
Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light is a book by Isaac Newton (Wikipedia). His second major book (with a lot of design possibilities).
Watch this space…….
Jordi Anton, Founder and Editor (and great lover of books).
For more information about us please contact firstname.lastname@example.org