What Is a Red and Black Book Project?
A Red and Black Book Project is a low cost way to make paperback Anarchist books that can be given away free to people who can't afford to buy books and to people who may take an interest in Anarchist ideas if they don't have to pay money to do so.
Our slogan is "Knowledge Should Be Free."
To Make The Books
II. How To Get The Books Out (Distribution)
Equipment Needed: To do a Red and Black Book Project all you need is a "long-reach stapler" (one that can staple up to 12 inches into the page: Red and Black Books are stapled 5 ˝ inches into the page or half the length of a piece of paper if you are using metric notebook-sized photocopy paper instead of English) and access to a photocopy machine that can do double-sided copying.
Master Copies: You should keep clean "Master Copies" of all the book titles in manilla folders so they don't get bent or folded (which would ruin the images on them and make them jam in the machine and wreck your prints). You can use a photocopy paper box like a file cabinet drawer to store your originals. You should probably use legal-sized folders to store notebook-sized "Master Copies" and put then length wise in the box so they don't bend.
Type of Paper You Should Use: Copy machines have a physical limit to how many copies you can make before you get copies which are off-center or your paper jams. These malfunctions happen because the paper wears against the rollers inside the machine each time it copies leaving paper dust in the mechanism. Paper dust builds up until it starts to jam in the rollers and belts which move the paper through the machine. You can't keep the machine from EVENTUALLY having to be serviced but, you can get the maximum use out of your machine by not using cheap generic recycled paper to make books with and not using heavier weight paper which is more likely to jam in the machine. If you ask the people at the office supply warehouse store "Which is a good JAM-FREE PAPER to use," they will point it out to you. It won't necessarily be the most expensive paper but, it is usually thinner and smoother to the touch than the cheap generic recycled stuff which would jam up your machine.
If you are making copies at your job, I recommend against using paper from your work unless it is good paper or you need books on short notice and can't get to the store. If you jack paper from your work, be sure not to take too much. You should be able to gage this by how much paperwork your workplace puts out. Abnormally rapid losses of paper may be detected by even the stupidest of bosses. You shouldn't take unnecessary risks. For this reason I also recommend against shoplifting paper to use for making books. A smart revolutionary doesn't take unnecessary or frivolous risks.
The red paper which I use is called "Astrobrights." The color is called "Rocket Red" and is a bright red color.
When purchasing paper, remember that making books uses A LOT of paper. It is easy to go through more than a case of paper in a single print run and hundreds of paged of red paper. I suggest that you get a couple cases of white paper and at least 3 reams of red so you don't run out (if you can afford them). Here in California, white paper is about $26-$28 for a case (5,000 sheets) and red paper is about $8 per ream (500 sheets).
For those of you who are worried about the ecological impacts of not using recycled paper, you shouldn't. Remember, paper which is marked as "recycled" in the store, isn't really recycled. Paper marked as "recycled" usually has less than 5% "post consumer content" (Corporate doublespeak for recycled paper). The only true recycled paper is a brownish color and isn't dyed. I has to be printed with an actual printing press and is hard to get a hold of which makes it impractical for this kind of project. Most paper which you take to a recycling center is used for making something besides paper or exported to places like Asia by using it as ballast in ships returning to Asia after bringing their regular cargo to American ports (I don't know how this works in Europe and elsewhere outside the United States). The idea that stuff you recycled is actually made into 100% recycled products and that recycling is the key to being ecologically "politically correct" is nothing but, an invention of the capitalist propaganda machine to distract people from the real daily environmental destruction created by the capitalist system.
Photocopying: To make books, you separate the cover page from your original and place the other pages in the feed hopper to be copied. Set the Machine on "2-Sided Copying" to "Collate" the maximum number of copies which can be collated (usually, "20" copies). Push "Start." When the run is done, put your red paper in the "bypass feed" hopper and reset the "2-Sided Copying" so that the copier will make "1-Sided Copies." Leave the machine set on "Collate." Place your cover page on the glass and copy. The red covers should be collated to the 20 books you just copied.
If you decide to use a photocopy machine at work, make sure it is after hours when no one else from your job is likely to be there. If someone walks in on you, be nonchalant and stop working. Pack your stuff and leave. Don't volunteer any information.
When To Stop Work: The other practical limitation of your machine is temperature. Metal parts start to expand when they get hot which makes paper jams and off-center prints more likely. After you have been making books for a few hours, you will start to get misprints and jams. The best way to deal with this is to stop working, not waste any more paper, and continue on another day.
However, you may get tired before your machine does and decide to call it a day.
Finish Making Your Books At Home: Remove all the copies and put them in a folder to take home. The red covers will separate the individual books. It is best to copy your books and staple them when you get home because you can copy more in a given amount of time and you don't get as tired. This IS work and you will get fatigued after making books for 2 or more hours. I am 6ft 2in (186 cm) and pretty healthy and I do.
Stapling Your Books: When you get home you should set up the books to be stapled on a table. You may be fatigued and want to do it at a later date. To make stapling faster, separate the individual books you have copied and pile them in a staggered pile facing toward you and to your left. This makes it easier to pick them up. When you staple them, pick them up and set the paper edge on the table upright and on its side so that all the pages are even. Then, hold the stack firmly with your left hand so it stays aligned and slide it into the stapler. Staple with your right hand. Your long-reach stapler should be set on 5 ˝ inches (or midway on the book where the spine will be if you are stapling metric paper).
Storing Your Books: You can use photocopy paper boxes like file cabinet drawers and put each kind of book in its own file. Wallet-like folders with expandable sides work best for this. The reason for this is to make it easier to put a few of each kind of book out. If you are at a music show or political event, this will make it easier to replace one kind of book on your table when you run out. Footnote: If this seems pedantic, it is only to give you an idea of what has worked for me so you can work faster with less fatigue. After you do it for a while, you will work out your own system which is easiest for you.
Tabling: Once you have made your Red and Black Books, you want to get them out (distribute them to people). I give out books whenever I have them and have a chance to table an event for one of the organizations I am working with. I have also been invited to set up an Insurgency Culture Collective table and give away books and sell the T-shirts we silk screen at neighborhood cultural events and music shows. I go whenever I can. Frankly, you are best to move the stuff in a car. Otherwise, you can pack your red and black books in a backpack and carry it onto the bus. I Don't recommend trying to lug a photocopy paper box full of red and black books onto the bus because it will get heavy and awkward fast. I have a hand truck so I can carry a stack of 4 or 5 boxes with books or T-shirts. It makes it easier to move your stuff and set up fast. If you can, it is good to table with your back to a wall so you can put up a banner with the name of your group or organization. It makes you more visible so people are more likely to check you out. The idea behind the books is to give them out for free but, you may want to put out a donation can when tabling for when people want to contribute to the book project. The books go like hotcakes. Most people only take one or two to check out but, are reluctant to take one of each. I tabled one event where there were cops EVERYWHERE and they didn't even check to see what I was putting out because I put no sign on my table. At that event, I left the most radical stuff in a box for those who expressed an interest when I talked with them. Some tabling is slow. Other tabling is more lively. It all depends on the event and who shows up. In addition to music shows and political events, I recommend tabling on college campuses. You don't need to actually go to the school to go out to the campus and pass out material. You should be mindful of harassment by school cops or authorities and keep a low profile if you are giving away books on campus and are not a student. Colleges and Universities often have fairs or other events where campus organizations are invited to set up tables. Anarchists who are students at colleges should look into how to set up an Anarchist club on campus (or a club with a related group like Food Not Bombs) where they would be allowed to participate in these events. Whenever you get a chance to table an event, you should do it.
Coffeehouses: Another way to get the books out is to leave them in a coffeehouse for people to take. It is good to leave a stack of about 5 each so they go quickly and people will look for them if they want more. It is also practical, because you want to get the books out to as many people as possible so you can't put them all in one place. There are often vegetarian or eclectic cafés, coffeehouses or stores which are not corporate and cater to casual patrons who aren't rich people or trendy. Basically, they are places YOU would feel comfortable hanging out at with your friends. Some may be meeting places for activists. These are a good bet for leaving books but, you should clear it with the people who run the place before leaving any books. If it is the kind of place I am thinking about, they will usually not have any objection to your leaving books. If they won't go for it, don't try to convince them. Just find another place where they will let you leave books.
I recommend against leaving stuff at bookstores as it will be seen as competition and probably end up in the trash. You should also avoid commie places as they are likely to try to sabotage what you are doing.
CARE Packages: One other thing I do with the red and Black Books is to put them in CARE packages which I send people who write for more info about Anarchism or who express an interest in Anarchism in letters pertaining to work I am doing for Anarchist-related projects. It is a good idea to be networked with other Anarchists in your area so if people get information request letters, they can refer them to you so you can send the person a CARE package.
Other Collectives: One of the things I do is to give 5 of each book to other collectives and to friends who I know will put them out to places and people they know. Some of them also have THEIR OWN tabling projects. In this way, I can get more out than if I were doing all the work myself.
Once you have a Red and Black Book project going, try to help others set one up. The best thing to do is to find someone who already is putting out propaganda but, you may find someone else who is genuinely interested. You can help them out by giving them "Master Copies" of the books. Simply make black & white copies of your "Master Copies" with black and white covers. Briefly explain to them the equipment they will need. You may wish to give them a print-out of this pamphlet.