As many of you are already aware, we recently launched a new, beautiful, website. It’s been a long time coming and we’re very excited to officially share it with you. We hope you’ll take a moment to explore some of its new features. For those of you interested you can find a full overview of design and functionality below.
An enhanced, best-of-its-kind platform for the distribution and promotion of publications on behalf of artists.
An expanded search capabilities including a “universal theory of search” that unifies basic searching, advanced searching, and catalog browsing into a single easy-to-use interface.
Through an interactive “Tables” feature, the site provides access to community-curated content from the Printed Matter catalog.
With over 10,000 titles in stock and 36,000 in the online archive, Printed Matter acts as both a nonprofit bookstore and cultural resource. Developed by Linked by Air, the new printedmatter.org uniquely serves these roles through innovative design and technology, offering users a brighter, more legible platform for exploring one of the world’s largest online resources for artists’ books and related material.
With a more intuitive navigation system and an easy-to-use catalog, the site offers an enhanced, best-of-its-kind platform for distributing and disseminating publications on behalf of artists, as well as a powerful research tool for exploring the medium more generally. In launching the new website Printed Matter has also undertaken the effort to photograph nearly 10,000 in-stock books, enriching the overall visual experience with larger cover images and extensive interior shots.
The new printedmatter.org also provides expanded search capabilities including a “universal theory of search” that unifies basic searching, advanced searching, and catalog browsing into a single easy-to-use interface. Users can browse the catalog by artist, publisher, or publication type, or according to various bibliographic data, including theme, printing method, cover, price, publication date, and more. By clicking the “wayback” button users can easily choose between viewing only inventory available for purchase, or researching the field at large by seeing all material currently and previously in the Printed Matter catalog.
Through an interactive “Tables” feature, the site also provides access to community-curated content from the Printed Matter catalog. All site users, as well as guest curators (publishers, artists, and others working in the field) are invited to build, annotate and share collections of books around thematic groupings. The Tables feature gives users the opportunity to explore the interests and expertise of the broader artists’ book community and discover new publications through peer recommendation. Printed Matter will also use this feature to present material related to exhibitions and programs, showcase new and featured inventory, and organize critical essays and other curated lists.
In addition, the new site provides vastly improved representation of Printed Matter's broad range of programs and services, allowing users to browse photographs from previous locations from the 70s to present day, view exhibition press releases, as well as find information related to current and past programming activities.
To coincide with the web redesign, Printed Matter has also overhauled its digital business systems, also in collaboration with Linked by Air. This includes a switch to a new inventory management system that enables the integration of a digital Point of Sales system in the New York store for the first time– a cash register that speaks directly to the store’s inventory database and to the website. We are also now able to sell directly from mobile devices while on the road at book fairs, and in other locations. Printed Matter sells thousands of different items on a consignment basis – meaning artists are paid when their books are sold, not when they enter the inventory – requiring highly customized logic for its internal systems. The new technical features will ultimately help streamline the organization’s work processes and allow Printed Matter’s staff to focus more on the organization’s mission.
On the relaunch of the website former Executive Director James Jenkin said: “While our heart is really in artists’ books as a physical medium, the web obviously offers a tremendous tool for artists and independent publishers to promote their work. We wanted to build a site that, as much as possible, reflected the richness and diversity of the artists book community to create a website with a much stronger visual representation of the works themselves. It was also important that the site offered a meaningful research tool for delving into the Printed Matter catalog, that it enabled the expansion of curated content and, importantly, that is fun to use. We worked with Linked By Air and we’re very appreciative of their great work to help us reach these goals.”
Linked by Air’s Dan Michaelson added: “Almost two thirds of the 10,000 titles sold by Printed Matter are sold on consignment. Anyone can submit their book to Printed Matter for consideration, and book artists are some of Printed Matter’s most important customers, too. Artists are paid when their books are sold. This approach allows Printed Matter to be accessible and to take risks on thousands of new artists. In this way, Printed Matter has always been a kind of tangible social network of creative production and distribution. The new site provides an online platform that is as agile, ambitious, and contemporary as Printed Matter’s cultural model.”
In subsequent phases of the web development Printed Matter will look to enrich the tables area with newly commissioned essays on artists’ books, build out the resources available to artists looking for information on all things related to artists’ book publishing, and streamline the process for artists to submit books for consideration online.
The website was built in Ruby on Rails, Backbone, and Marionette.
The development of the website was generously supported by Phil Aarons and individuals, and specific grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Culpepper Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation and Hyde and Watson Foundation.