Edit, March 11 2023: 10€ fee added to shipments to the United States due to higher shipping costs
TL;DR: I’m now selling author’s handmade special editions of the English Gokyō Shūmyō, as visible above! One copy costs €80 including worldwide shipping; except, for shipments to the United States, the price is €90 (due to higher shipping costs). When ordering multiple copies, the price is €70 for each copy after the first.
To order, please send email to nordicgodojo [at] gmail [dot] com, including the number of copies you wish to order as well as your shipping address. Payment is possible by eu bank transfer or PayPal – although in the latter case the price of each copy increases by 5€ to make up for PayPal’s processing fees. The book(s) will be shipped within a few days from ordering, unless I get swamped with orders.
The longer story: as some readers may remember, in 2017 I published a small batch of special edition books of Invisible: The Games of AlphaGo to celebrate my first published go book. At the time I had just gotten my hands on some traditionally-bound Japanese books and was thoroughly fascinated with them; I ended up commissioning fifty traditionally-bound copies of Invisible from a printing company in Tokyo. Although the special-edition books ended up being considerably more expensive than the regular copies sold by Hebsacker Verlag, they were well received by everybody; I especially liked the high-quality materials and the general feeling of the end product.
Later, in 2019, I also got a number of requests to publish a special edition for Rational Endgame in the same fashion, but in the end I decided against it. The Invisible project was worth it because there was a lot of general interest in the book at the time (thanks to the AlphaGo hype); but with an endgame theory book, doing a similarly large printing seemed like a considerably bigger financial risk, and a smaller printing would have gotten too expensive per book. Now, a few years later, this still feels like a missed opportunity.
Last summer I published the English edition of Gokyō Shūmyō, one of the most famous classic problem collections. Immediately afterwards I realised that this book, if any, needs a traditional Japanese-bound special version. However, since 2020 I no longer live anywhere near Tokyo, and dealing with the previous printing company has become considerably harder. Therefore, I had to find a different way.
After a little research, I found out that traditional Japanese bookbinding isn’t all that difficult to do by oneself; the reason it is ‘traditional’ is that it is possible to do with simple and cheap equipment. Add to this the fact that modern printers are capable of near-offset printing quality, and I had quickly devised a way I could print and bind good-looking copies of the book by myself.
I rather like the end result, visible at the start of this post. Most importantly, it is light to hold and easy on the eyes thanks to the coloured paper I used, but I also like the feeling of the thread binding (which, incidentally, I’ve done with silk thread). Unlike Invisible, this book does not stay open on the table on its own – I would have had to split it into two volumes to do that – but I decided that is not an issue, since most readers of a problem book will be holding the book in their hands when reading it.
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