5ever is an underground publishing house based at Rebel Press, Trades Hall in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. We print, splice, bind and chop pesky dank little books. Our scope is nebulous. Form and sense of disciplinarity remains plural. But our target is clear: to publish punchy, intense and interdisciplinary work, woven together by a shared transformational kaupapa. We recognise the collective necessity of actively infiltrating and affecting our playground and home, Wellington. As we balance our vision with pragmatism, we are committed to realising a post-capitalist vision that honours Te Tiriti O Waitangi in Aotearoa. We are serious in our playfulness.
Sasha, Achille, Max and Olive.
- What gap did you notice in the publishing space that made you want to start your own press?
We didn’t start anything. We slipped into the publisher role because it was missing in our community, and we had access to the means of production through Rebel Press: literally producing a physical book out of things we had just typed is a very empowering exercise. As our communal spaces for art, politics, action and ideas continue to shrink due to gentrification and rising inequality, we built this infrastructure to support our community and to strengthen the culture surrounding it, in the hope it will facilitate and deepen these relationships through space and time.
5ever actually started before we were involved - Max Trevor Thomas Edmond ran 5everdankly.florist from 2015-2020 with a focus on experimental texts and collaborative projects. The imprint name was passed over in December 2020, when we formally re-launched as 5ever books.
Today, 5ever books is a tactic, in-so-far as it is a time and place convergence of our (Sasha Francis and Achille Segard’s) artistic and political work. The form this work takes is up for change (we might not be a press in a year, and then return to being a press in a decade..), but what remains consistent is our commitment to transforming material reality, to engaging in and with the world as it is. Books are a powerful tool of intervention, and you’ve got to speak back.
5ever books remains focused on experimentality, community and relationships – indeed, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata – and we now have a political foundation. We’re also trying to be responsive and regenerative members of our community. There is a line in our manifesto that goes ‘we are serious in our playfulness’ and this sums up our work and approach well.
- Why do you (and why should we) value the physical book in a digital era?
The internet is broken. We grew up with the promise of self-expression and horizontal knowledge: blogging, chatrooms, forums and the like. By the time we reached voting age the military-industrial complex had already killed the idea of a digital commons and replaced it with techno-surveillance and unskippable ads. Worse, we’re looking at the privatization of language, of words themselves. But it doesn’t take big theories to understand that any line of text stored online somehow benefits the owners of the servers more than our authors.
Where we’d love to challenge this ignominy, we leave this struggle for our more techno-literate hacker friends. The material book still holds these caveats of language as power (you’re reading this in English!), but we feel it has a built-in safeguard for predatory accaparation.
The production of a book is an intervention into material reality. Books are taken as markers of knowledge: the physicality of a book, the sharp spine, provides a sense of heightened legitimacy over what is inside the covers, as if the words increased in value for their very materiality. We want to play with this notion. Afterall, we’re into low theory (see McKenzie Wark) and we’re both anarchists who like challenging hierarchies of knowledge and power in empowering ways with our friends. The physical book object and the inextri-cultural-ably linked physical production process is a direct engagement with questions of agency and political action: fabrication as emancipatory autonomy.
Flicking through a physical copy of a book full of friends and local community members strengthens in-person relations because it solidifies things quite literally, and the labour of making books together binds us further as a community whilst also offering a space to stretch and play with what counts as a book object. Physically, books are a generally stable object, a snapshot of time, that you can reliably return to, amidst the ever-changing fluidity of the digital realm.
In terms of the physical, we’re also fascinated by the journey through the world of the material book object: we heard that a copy of ‘An Historical Overview of Lambton Harbour’ was traded for ½ tab of acid at Tora Bombora this year. We’re stoked to disrupt capital in this way, and to contribute to unexpected forms of in-person exchange in the community.
In saying all this, we are nothing without text editing softwares and cloud storage! Just as we keep our collection up-to-date on your favourite pirate library…!
- What’s your most recent release (or next forthcoming release)?
We’ve just released “Nagology: An Exercise in Mattering” (publication date 23rd March 2022).
This book is a culmination of a wonderful collaborative performance art piece that happened at The Performance Arcade 2021. We were invited by NAG (Marcus McShane) to do a 7-hour micro-residency at his bike-powered studio where all electricity is pedal-generated: we plugged in our machines to power a pop-up book factory. As long as the public circled in, energy inevitably transformed matter towards a book object state.
The book we have just published contains all traces of the event we could gather, including over 40 contributions from the public, ranging from hand drawings, on-site typewritten notes, short stories, graphic art, to poetry and other wonderful works. By the way, anyone reading this who contributed and didn't get a complementary copy yet, please let us know! For all others, the best way to get your hands on a copy is to email us at [email protected] – they’re $35 a pop.
- What’s your average print run?
Generally speaking, we don’t count and we produce at leisure. Because our books are entirely made in-house, we print, and re-print, whenever we have the paper, whenever we need books, and whenever we can muster some friends to help. On any given day when we are producing books, our average print run is in the two digits.
There is a lot of freedom in our production process. Books come out in batches of four, so we often make changes in between batches: colour settings, typos (!), margins. For our Abridged Series (which we launched with in December 2020), we were still experimenting with cover designs half a dozen books into the print run.
We're about to reprint AHOLH for the tenth time and we still find things to improve on. The total print run of this book since launching July 2021 is probably around 400 including the zine variant of the book… though at this stage, it’s hard to say!