The Book Trust, a site-specific publication and installation, was originally presented at the NY Art Book Fair, 5–7 November, 2010. During those days, the semi-fictional Investment Futures Strategy, Ltd., comprised of five graduate students from the Department of Graphic Design at the Yale University School of Art, offered an original publication for trade in a series of barters executed by its authors.

The Trust and the accompanying Book Trust Prospectus address matters of micro-economy and distribution, as well as prescribed versus perceived value. The project suggests a new currency specific to the setting of the Book Fair, a context in which a distinct set of commodities is exchanged by like-minded vendors in a finite space and time. It is only in this setting that a book could be posited as capital—a literal stand-in for the money that commonly exchanges hands at the Fair. Perceived worth is thus no longer dictated by edition or price, but instead by a trader’s subjective notion of the values they assign each book.

Over the three days of the Fair, the book, produced in a fixed quantity of 500, varied in value as each negotiation determined and redetermined its worth in the marketplace. With each transaction, the Prospectus assumed the value of the book for which it was exchanged. The traded commodities now comprise The Book Trust—a value-appreciating book bank. By trading with IFS, Ltd., participants acquired a single theoretical share of the bank, the Prospectus acting as a document of that transaction. In framing the project in a format similar to that of a stock exchange, IFS, Ltd. hopes that the Trust emphasizes the tenuous, abstract value of the book: as a designed object, as a medium for content, as a traded commodity, and as a symbol of participation in the project itself.

IFS, Ltd. has extended its trading period through November 29, 2010 at its New York branch on the 1ST Floor of MoMA PS1. The Trust will remain at the museum as IFS, Ltd. assesses and catalogues its contents. Accordingly, IFS, Ltd. invites you to bring a book to exchange with one of our on-site representatives, thus formalising your status as a Shareholder in the Trust. Upon the installation’s closure, IFS, Ltd. intends to circulate the Trust’s holdings in appropriate domestic and international venues, at which point new editions of the Prospectus may be issued in context-specific reenactments of the initial trading period. Any party interested in hosting the Trust should not hesitate to be in touch.

Click here to download a copy of the press release.


The Book Trust Prospectus is, in non-equal parts: a local currency, a stock prospectus for The Book Trust, an exploration into the nature of small-scale publishing and its presence at the NY Art Book Fair (R. Giampietro), a survey of precedented alternative currencies (B. Critton), a platform for hyperbolic re-representations of anonymous fiat money (R. Rozendaal), a foray into corporate branding and rebranding (Metahaven et al.), a proposal for a time-based repurposing of existing banknotes (N. Hirsch & Z. Kyes), an analysis of the current state of [art] book-publishing and -design (L. v. Deursen et al.), a venue for research into non-essential commodity futures like tulips and Beanie Babies™ (H. Gassel), a profile of independent art book vendors (Golden Age), and a podium for experimentation with anti-counterfeiting guilloché renderings (B. Griffiths & Z. Klauck). It is the story of its own making and financing as well as an evaluation of the context in which it was made and financed. The Prospectus is a 160-pg., perfect-bound, one-colour book, offset-printed in an edition of five hundred by GHP printing in West Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Linda van Deursen (Mevis & Van Deursen)
Amsterdam, NL

Rob Giampietro
New York, US

Marco Kane Braunschweiler & Martine Syms (Golden Age)
Chicago, US

Nikolaus Hirsch & Zak Kyes
Frankfurt, DE & London, UK

Daniel van der Velden (Metahaven)
Amsterdam, NL

Alexander Rives
New York, US

Rafaël Rozendaal
Amsterdam, NL

Get the Prospectus

The Book Trust Prospectus can be obtained through the exchange of a copy of the IFS, Ltd. Futures Newsletter. The Futures Newsletter can be found in issue No. 17 of GRAPHIC Magazine.

While supplies last.

Postmark deadline: 1 May, 2011.

1. Obtain a copy of GRAPHIC Magazine #17.

2. Cut along the dashed line to remove the newsletter.

3. Also fill out and trim the adjacent address slip.

4. Insert both the newsletter and address slip into an envelope.

5. Apply proper postage and mail to:

IFS, Ltd.
Yale School of Art
1156 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT
06511 USA

6. Send along US $5.00 (United States) or US $10.00 (Rest of World) via PayPal.

7. Await the arrival of your copy. Upon receipt, enjoy.

Shareholder Login

Please enter the login details provided with your copy of The Book Trust Prospectus below:




IFS, Ltd. is: Benjamin Critton, Harry Gassel, Brendan Griffiths, Zak Klauck, and Mylinh Nguyen.

Special thanks to Robert Storr, Yale University School of Art; and to AA Bronson, Printed Matter, Inc. for their generous support of this project.

Additional thanks to our mentors in the Graphic Design Department: Julian Bittiner, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Linda van Deursen, Dan Michaelson, Susan Sellers, and Daniel van der Velden.

Pledges of $1 or more are listed below. Pledges of $20 or more were given the option to advertise in the book and on this website. Advertisments are scaled relative to the pledged dollar amount, for example, a $27 pledge was alotted 27% of a page.

Adam Katz (#1), Alexandra Hays, Andy Beach (#2), Anne Lai, Azusa Kobayashi, Beth Critton (#4), Between-Between (#3), Bryan-K. Lamonde, Camilla Gale & Zachary Aarons (#5), Charles Campbell (#6), Clara Turcotte (#7), Creative Time (#8), D—Block, Daniel van der Velden (Metahaven) (#9), David Atwater Critton, Deirdre Condon (#10), Mainstudio (Edwin van Gelder), Ethan Trask, Francois Morin (#11), Frank DeRose (Zut Alors!) (#12), Fuck D—Block, Gabrielle Lamontagne (#13), Gail Risse, Gary Pernell (#14), Golden Age (#15), Heesun Seo (#16), Jodi Morrison, Julia Bloch, Justine Cardinal Gagnon (#17), Katie Broad, Kristian Henson, Lars Johansson, Lauren Francescone & Tara Kelton (#31), Lauren Houston (#19), Luana Ann Church (#20), Luke Bulman (#35), Manystuff (Charlotte Cheetham), Marianne Ruscito, Maxime Harvey (#21), Michael Mikulec (#22), Mindy Tatham, Mitchell Abdullah, Miriam Gassel (#23), Molly Pollak (#24), Neil Donnelly (#25), New Jerseyy (#26), Owen Smith (#27), Philip Gassel, Project No. 8 (#28), Rachel Dominguez-Benner (#29), RUMORS (#30), Richard Espinosa (#32), ROLU/rosenlof-lucas/ro-lu (#33), Ross Offinger, Ryan Hines, Sarah Miller, split/fountain (#34), Swill Children (Jesse Hlebo), Thierry Laberge, Tim Koehn, Willem Henri Lucas (#36), Virginia Critton, Yoonjai Choi (#37), and Yujune Park.

IFS, Ltd. portrait by George Prinos.

Below: the value of the book based on * potential advertising real estate, † material costs, and ‡ theoretical gross production cost.