Look at it as an 18th century idea whose time might have come.
Two Los Angeles-based art experts are hoping to distill the world -- past and present -- into low-cost pamphlets that can be read in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. And at $1.49 each, the pamphlets are cheaper than the latte.
Partners Lisa Lyons and Gary Kornblau hope to market their line of 5-by-7-inch Buk pamphlets through myriad venues including coffee shops and carwashes. The idea, Lyons said, is to help readers find notable essays, short stories, humor and art.
"We believe that there's so much great writing that gets lost in the shuffle," Lyons said last week from Seattle, where she and Kornblau were trying to sign up vendors at the annual Specialty Coffee Assn. of America Conference and Exhibition. "In the age of the Internet, there's so much material out there and so much material printed that people find it difficult to determine what is worthwhile reading."
Lyons, who organized exhibitions for the Getty Museum, and Kornblau, who teaches at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, began the venture about two years ago. They launched the first six titles this month, on subjects including the iceberg photographs of Lynn Davis to Jonathan Swift's classic essay, "A Modest Proposal," a 1729 satire that suggested poverty could be alleviated if poor children were eaten (the Los Angeles Times art critic is represented with an essay on the future of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.).
So far, Buks are available online at BukAmerica.com, at some Los Angeles-area carwashes and at the Fred Segal shop in Santa Monica, Lyons said.
"Our primary market is coffee shops, which is why we're here" at the Seattle coffee conference, Lyons said. "By the end of the year, there should be between 20 and 24 titles, and next year a much larger number. We hope there will be hundreds. These are evergreen, not like magazines. They don't go out of date."