‘Surreal’ experience of lockdown inspires book

By ODT | Posted: Monday May 24, 2021

The "surreal" days of Covid-19 lockdown were the inspiration for a unique collaborative publishing project for a Mosgiel author.

In March last year, Mosgiel resident and writer Athol Parks was facing the tough prospect of falling demand for his tour guide business due to the pandemic.

"I decided to go for a stroll in the fresh air around Mosgiel, and a bike ride, and found it so uplifting that I went home and wrote about it," Mr Parks said.

"I needed to write my thoughts down, to process what was happening, so I resolved to write every day.

"And I needed a memento [of the time], so my goal became to produce a book."

Working with local artisan book designer Graeme McKinstry, of MCK Design, and bookbinder David Stedman, of Dutybound, Mr Parks is delighted to have produced Alert Level Four — a bespoke, hardcover book.

"It has been such a joy, and so interesting, working with these guys. They are true professionals,” Mr Parks said.

"And the result has been a beautiful, physical memento of that time."

Designed, laid out and digitally printed on high-quality paper by Mr McKinstry, 50 copies of the hardcover book were hand-bound by Mr Stedman.

Mr McKinstry is passionate about typography, and likes to get right into the details, while keeping things "nice and simple".

"A well-designed layout really helps to support the story."

Mr Stedman said the Gill Sans typeface on the cover and dust jacket were reminiscent of the popular "keep calm and carry on" image.

"This seemed very appropriate, given the subject matter," he said.

Mr Stedman and Mr McKinstry have worked together often over the years, and were able to support Mr Parks to create a solid and attractive version of the Alert Level Four book.

Each copy has been individually numbered and stamped.

"The binding process can be quite time-consuming, especially as they are being done one at a time, but the results are worth it," Mr Stedman said.

Mr Parks is thrilled with the book, which was launched last week, and said he hoped the combined effort would be a worthy contribution to the proud tradition of printing and publishing in Dunedin.

The lockdown experience had been "surreal", and the completed book project was a "little monument to that experience", he said.

With a print run of only 50, the book has mostly sold out its first run, and discussions on a second run are under way.

Copies of Alert Level Four will be available at Dunedin Public Libraries.


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