Briar Press v6: An update

Greetings all:

Many thanks for your expressions of support, and your input on the website redevelopment question. We’ve had some time this summer to consider the issues you raised and the options ahead. Here’s a summary of where we stand.

After much thought, we’ve decided to move ahead with a custom-built site rather than an off-the-shelf solution. Drupal, WordPress, and other publishing platforms offer rich feature sets and a great deal of extensibility. But they lack many small and large features specific to Briar Press, which would need to be added as extensions or as custom code, decreasing cost-effectiveness. (The current version of our site is a heavily-customized Drupal installation.)

A tailor-made site, using a framework such as Ruby on Rails, would not have as many features as a Drupal or a WordPress. It certainly wouldn’t be as quick to implement. But going custom means we won’t need to spend time reverse-engineering someone else’s code to make it suit our needs.

Our aim is to modernize the site without adding too much complexity to the interface, to make things better while keeping things simple.

As for fundraising: we know Kickstarter and company inspire mixed feelings here. We are considering, alternatively, a basic PayPal campaign to help fund the first phase of development.

We’re also looking at ways to support ongoing operations. Encouraged by donations from many members, we’ve been running this place in the spirit of the early Web (i.e. ad free and on a shoestring) since 1995. It has always been a spare-time labor of love for the both of us. A consistent source of funding would allow us to devote more time to regular maintenance and customer service.

Rest assured that we have no plans, and no desire, to charge for any features that we currently offer for free. We are, in practice and spirit, members of the hobby printer class. It is to this community especially that we dedicate our free services, and will continue to do so.

Eric & Elizabeth

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Question of the week: If were to create a paid membership option offering expanded features above the free membership level, what sorts of features might be included?

Log in to reply   18 replies so far

Kudos to you for keeping the faith of the original spirit of the www, but I think most of us understand that it can’t be free forever. has held out longer than most!

Just a thought on member benefits… for myself, the maintenance you provide of the site and members’ access to it are the primary benefits. Anything on top of that would be gravy. However, maybe you could solicit support from some suppliers (paper dealers, ink manufacturers, etc.) to offer a member discount on their products. They could write it off, it wouldn’t cost anything, and members would benefit… functions without advertising by charging only for the most commercial classified ads. I seem to recall that it is the want ads they charge for.

There are many levels of involvement on this board. Those who merely lurk (not that that is a bad thing), those who ask questions and occasionally provide answers when they feel their expertise up to the task (guilty), those who are experts and answer the questions and correct the answers of the former two, and finally, those who use this site to advertise their wares and services and sell their castoff surplus equipment.

Paid membership runs the risk of paring down the numbers or eyes on this site to just the latter two groups. I would suggest levels of free membership with differing degrees of administrative access. This would restrict the spam and allow only the experts (higher level members) to answer questions. Those who wish to advertise or list equipment for sale can pay for the privilege as trade members. Perks like “sticky” ads can be had at a premium.

Or you could just monetize the site. It’s not Holy Ground, and we’re all perfectly used to ignoring the money changers by now.

I like emthree’s suggestion, though I don’t know if we’re a big enough market for companies like Van Son or Neenah to care about. It could be worth a try, though!

One thing I’d love to see, either as a premium feature or a regular one, would be a setting to have notifications sent when a topic I’ve replied to or started has a new reply posted. As it is, it’s very easy to forget to check on them. I understand some people don’t want to be getting tons of emails back, so I could see setting it to off by default, but I’d love for the option to be there. Thanks for everything you do for the Letterpress Community!

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

This is a fantastic site, a wealth of information. There is no reason why you should not benefit from you hard work and dedication. Search for a solution to your most recent letterpress problem - your forum is always at the top. I am happy to pay for a subscription. Keep up the good work.


you have a Colleges and Universities Letterpress Association in the USA-no idea how it works, is it effective etc(should there be one in Uk to promote letterpress), could it be /should it be involved with Briar in hosting, managing/developing in any form, should it be approached, could it be a bridge or interface between the commercial world and academia with links to Codex, artists books Fine Press Book Association etc etc so that in conjunction with Briar it is best enabled and enabling for “a” if not “the” letterpress future..?
Mid Tennessee State University used to host a great site for printmaking under Christie Newell until taken over by junk/spam, maybe printing and printmaking could/should run in parallel/side by side..?

Any type of paywall will severely hurt the usefulness of this site. That’s a fact.

If anything, charge for the commercial classified ads. Aside from that, noooo way.

I have to agree with megahurt that a subscription might not be the best for BP. While some have suggested that a subscription would “clean house”, not sure if that is what is needed. You do not want to limit the passers-by or infrequent visitors as you never know how limited access here could affect their continuing in the craft.

As for fundraising, I am more apt to give during a yearly fundraising blast than to click on a random PayPal donate button. And not sure what the deal is here against Kickstarter or the others, but could be a viable option.

I have enjoyed the community here since getting started with letterpress. Looking forward to the new site and user experience.

If you were to do some sort of subscription, you might think about having some exclusive content such as monthly how-to’s (video or written, produced by the more knowledgable users). Could be about a specific process for newbs, a new technique, how someone accomplished a certain unique job, press and type maintenance, shop set up, etc, etc.

Business profile articles/videos could be a source of income to go along with the “Press Names” list (kind of like Etsy does). Another idea would be perks (paid) for individual presses wanting to add some more content to their listing in the “Press Names” list.

Just some ideas from a grateful user.

Thanks for the helpful feedback, everyone. I’d like to clarify that we are not considering hiding anything that Briar Press currently offers behind a paywall.

If we were to create a membership system, it would offer enhanced services that are not currently available, such as (for instance) an expanded business profile, or a higher classified ad limit.

We would like what’s free to remain free. A paid membership, if it were to exist, would be a new option with extra benefits. I’ve edited the original post to reflect that.

I’m liking the other ideas that I’m reading here as well. New readers, please continue to weigh in.

I would be more than happy to pay a membership fee rather than guess how much I should donate as I have done in the past.

I think annual fundraising is the easiest thing. Not sure of the relative membership numbers, but I’m on another forum that once a year puts a banner on the top of the page and keeps it there until it raises the amount of money they need to pay for the expenses and they always raise it quickly.

I also think most people’s issues with Kickstarter are based on their own misconceptions about Kickstarter, but there’s also Indiegogo, which solves some of the qualms people have (you keep all money raised even when the requested amount isn’t reached). Using Indiegogo annually to better facilitate fundraising would be easy. And you’d have no problem with premiums as I’m sure many users would love to donate prints, cards, posters etc.

I also agree that a simple corporate sponsorship from the likes of Neenah, Legion Paper, Boxcar etc couldn’t hurt. A single ad from a well-known company on a page isn’t a clutter of spam.

Eric & Elizabeth, has an interesting subscription model — they exist primarily as a forum, but they offer a yearly subscription ( The interesting thing is that the subscription isn’t about gaining access to the forum, or gaining access to private sections, it’s about contributing to the site’s financial well being. In exchange for your money, you get a few tokens of appreciation — a tool box tag, a custom title on their forum, and get discounts from participating vendors.

You get the same value out of the site wether you’re a paid subscriber or not, but the paid subscribers get identified as such, and get a few benefits out of it as well — it’s essentially an ‘optional’ subscription model, and those that want to help keep the site running have an easy way to contribute.

I’d be happy to spend $50 a year (a little over $4 a month) to help keep this site up and running, I find it to be an invaluable resource.

Hi The hours of work it takes to keep a web presence is vast!!

So thanks for your time so far!!

I am a member of the “Oxford Guild of Printers” and this cost £15 per year, monthly newsletter, events, visits etc. I have no problem with a members fee, because the benefits out way the SMALL cost. So if we had a monthly digest by e-mail from Briar, of “all that is letterpress” that would be fantastic.

Revenue stream: small ads, sponsorship, sale of goods or services. Just to name a few (other member have suggested these as well!)

Regards Nick “Cleeve Press” UK

It would appear another BOT got through- are there any extra measures in place yet for de-lousing the infestations? Any additional user affecting mods? That might be a good idea in the short term before implementing whatever big step is next.

many years ago stone artistic lithography was “rescued” by June Wayne who got corporate funding from the Ford Foundation to set up the Tamarind Lithographic Studio to train master printers artists etc. I suppose arts sponsors might not see artistic aspects in letterpress as much, although of course we could exemplify the “artistry” involved, such as in artist books, posters etc etc as we know, and that letterpress is used for artistic ends in graphic media, but would arts or similar sponsorship be interested in for example , not only helping with the web site etc, but awarding grants/sponsorshop/funds to deserving cases, for example the young lady in Cyprus who has valiantly been rescuing presses from under occupying forces, or subsidising people who want to learn(of which we get quite a few here), perhaps subsidising printers who would wish to take on trainees/apprentices/be a mentor??

I echo the others here about all the work that has been put into this so far, and thank you so very much for having this resource available. It has been invaluable to me as I learn about letterpress.

I think getting BoxCar involved is a splendid idea. It makes great sense for them to get involved and sponsor what goes on here. I do think you should consider other sponsorships.

Keeping what you have going as free and adding premium services for a fee is a great idea.

I am also open to the crowd funding ideas mentioned as well as an annual appeal.

Keep us posted. We are your community and should support you in your efforts.

I would be happy to give in a annual fundraising sort of thing. I’d be willing to donate some prints to sell to keep this thing running too. What about a print sale? I think it might be easiest to take a bit off the top of commercial ads or offer the more commercial printers enhanced listing pages for a fee.

Anybody else notice flags next to our names? Did I miss an announcement? What does this do? Flag for spam/suggest ban?

It was mentioned a couple of days ago — Eric set it up so you can flag a spam message for removal. Just click on the flag to do it.