I loved this book so much, and it's not like I love a lot of nonfiction. The author is my friend, so keep that in mind, but if you don't love Kate, too, you will by the time you finish Adjusted Margin. I folded down nearly every page to indicate passages I wanted to revisit, so I could write a 5,000 word review. I won't because I don't have the energy or the smarts to do AM justice.
I'll just comment on a few things, until I run out of steam.
Kate talks about the physical labor of making copies back in the day, and how that factored into the process, whether it was for art, activism, or academia.
One might conclude that photocopying and distributing posters in the two decades or so preceding the arrival of the web was simply a pre-social media equivalent to reposting articles about political events on Facebook, but that analogy quickly breaks down. Anyone who has spent time photocopying and postering knows that this is an entirely different activity. You have to find a copy machine--an affordable copy machine, ideally a free one. You have to be willing to fix its endless james. You have to care enough to keep fixing these jams. You have to find time to put up these posters. You have to choose your adhesive--staples or packing tape or wheatpaste. More importantly, you have to choose either to respect the bylaws (poster only in designated areas) or to reject them. In short, you have to be willing to do the work, deal with the mechanics, and get caught, and none of this has much in common with reposting slogans, photographs, or articles on Facebook or Twitter.
Let it be known that Kate isn't on social media, but that doesn't negate what she is saying. I've fixed a lot of copy jams and mixed my share of wheatpaste, and I'm a proflic user of Facebook, Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Instagram. btw that's just from page viii of the preface, so you know Kate is just winding up.
it's about the monotony of reproducing documents in the late age of print and about the banality embedded in even our most subversive acts.
Zine makers holla! Kate cites an HP survey that reveals that one in ten workers admitted to kicking or punchin their copy machines. And these were Canadians surveyed. LOL.
I'll add a few other summary elements. Kate's work is on the xerox machine, not on today's digital copiers. We still have to deal with jams with digital copiers, but there isn't quite the same level of labor and muss as there was with their forerunners. She writes about office labor, usually woman-powered and the sort of industrialization of white color work. A great focus of her scholarship is on queer people's use of copying tech, for lesbian newsletters and all the powerful ACT UP propaganda as it went from city to city copied, recopied, and recopied again. Being a zine scholar and friend, Kate looks at how zine makers seize the means of production. She drops some Foucault and a fistful of McLuhan (she's a media scholar, after all).
In chapter two "Open Secrets and Imagined Terrorisms," she recounts the story of a Muslim-owned Toronto copy shop being raided by cops after 9/11 and also remarks on the flagrant violation of copyright in copy shops, despite publicly posted signs about what percentage of a book is legal to reproduce and share, as well as taking on adjunct labor and disparities of privileges. Kate packs it all into this beautifully produced 160 page book. (Seriously, kudos to MIT Press; the book is gorgeous.)
Kate's first acknowledgment is to "the librarians, archivists, and preservationists who make it possible..." Kate has always been a good friend to my people, and one of the ways she shows her respect and understanding for our professions is to be clear on the different roles in carrying out our work.
Buy, borrow, or copy this book!