In 2008, English Graphic Designer James Goggin ran a two-day workshop with design students at the Hochschule Darmstadt in Germany. The object which resulted gradually took on the appearance of a photo album, a typeface specimen, and a color chart. On the cover, the phrase “Dear Lulu, Please try and print these line, color, pattern, format, texture and typography tests for us” is clearly addressed to the online print platform for which this book was proposed as a test.
Ten years later, the offer has become more diverse and the success of such online platforms is undeniable—indeed the phenomenon has spread well beyond the field of publishing. While some bemoan unfair competition for printers, others, professionals and amateurs, see in it a freedom to print and distribute relatively well finished objects at low cost.
The possibilities of these systems of production, are multiple but nonetheless limited, and this obviously raises the question of a possible standardization of forms and formats. However, when it comes to Print On Demand, it seems that the issue is not so much the materiality of an object (the choice of format, paper or a particular manufacture) but rather the actual existence of this object itself, outside of usual channels of production and distribution.