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Building the Book: Cassandra Voices Volume I

‘This is madness’, two friends chimed one night upon hearing I planned to bring out a book, reminding me I had no marketing strategy or distribution network. I would lose a fortune they maintained, consigning good paper to land fill.

I was at least reassured by the designer’s, Distinctive Repetition, insistence on the most stringent environmental standards; meaning, whatever else, the book would not be expensive on the Earth.

Perhaps I should have listened to my friends’ heartfelt remonstrances, and issued a countermanding order. But I held a strong attachment to the idea of bringing out a hard copy in time for the Christmas market after a year working online.

For convenience Cassandra Voices is now a limited company, but we have always had more of the character, and pitfalls, of a rock band. The money required by participants is just one constraint among others including time, technical abilities and mental health.

Short-term financial reward is only one metric for success; providing a platform for progressive writers and artists not ordinarily present in the media landscape brings its own rewards. Salaries will hopefully follow diligent application.

Anyway, so far we have managed to shift over half of the editions and will continue to flog them over the next few months. The investment has cut a swathe through what small capital I held in reserve, but in return I feel Cassandra Voices is more relevant having made its print debut. I may have little business acumen, but am familiar with the saying that ‘you must speculate in order to accumulate.’

Our economic system, predicated on the fiction of money, ascribes little reward for writing, particularly journalism that bites, so it was never going to be easy to bring to life this publication, fostering views that go against the grain .

Bringing out digital monthly editions over the course of the year required a lot of persuasion from an editor without a cheque book, but we managed to attract excellent contributions nonetheless. I had a strong sense that many of these articles deserved to be cast in the relatively permanent form of a book, which minimises distraction and imparts information more effectively than online reading.

It would also offer a showcase for my photographic partner Daniele Idini, and an award-winning graphic design studio. I was determined to bring out the print edition, even if it did not make short-term business sense. In so doing I hope we are performing an important role in our democracy.

Since publication our friend Sé Merry Doyle of Loopline Film has made a short documentary on our efforts to sell the book,featuring a number of quirky Dublin characters, and a dying world of independent bookshops.

Finis.

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