Discover more from Mading Cahyati
#001: Meet Cahyati Press!
"Can we pull you for a chat?" 🏝️
Welcome to our newsletter Mading Cahyati, and thank you for letting us hang out in your inbox!
On our very first Mading (literally means “bulletin board” in English), Avi and Kat check in with each other to see, in the words of many Love Islanders, “where their heads’ at” as they put the final touches on what soon will be a Cahyati Press physical store. If you’re feeling a little bit confused about what Cahyati Press really is, we hope this interview will clarify a few things—or at least make you feel less alone because we are still figuring this out lol.
We can’t wait to welcome you to our store, and we’ll keep you posted on the opening date! In the meantime, we hope you all are having a fantastic week ahead.
Syarafina Vidyadhana [SV]: Hi, Kat! Let me just start by saying I really appreciate our friendship and what a pleasure it has been to collaborate and to sort of grow up with you. (Can you believe we’ve been friends for 8 years??? That’s 50 in cat years!!)
Now the reason we’re meeting today is because at the moment we want to take a step back from the maddening logistics of opening a bookstore-slash-printing place and instead reflect on how the process has been like for us so far. And so I guess my first question is this: What led you to saying “yes” to Cahyati Press?
Katyusha Methanisa [KM]: Hi, Vi! Thank you for being on this journey with me. You’re one of my friends who I consistently work with. I think many would agree that you’re always giving the girls jobs!
It’s really a tale as old as time: I hated my day job, but all that nervous energy had to go somewhere else. That’s something I have in common with you, I think. Our urge to create is always there, but the outlet is much more limited. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity when you proposed a vague and mysterious “printing and publishing experiment.” I thought my involvement would be small, but then you asked me to be Cahyati’s co-parent! You’re really my most becus (what’s the English equivalent of this?) friend, so I knew I had to put faith in you. I only had a slight idea of what it would be like, so it’s been really exciting to see this project take shape.
SV: Glad it appears to you that I have my shit together because, to tell you the truth, I rarely do hahah! But in all seriousness, I can’t thank you enough for believing in me and contributing to this vague and mysterious initiative. I couldn’t imagine doing this alone—I never did. The thought of having to think everything out on my own and make all the calls scared the shit out of me. But I couldn’t do this with just anyone. The thing about passion projects is that it has to be enjoyable for me. It won’t always be fun, so it’s only worthwhile if you do it with someone who gets you. I just… I didn’t think you (or anyone!) would say yes, especially considering our geographical distance and the likelihood that we will not make real money out of this.
I think I pitched Cahyati as an “experiment” in the hope that this framing will give us the freedom to test things out, and make mistakes, and make alterations, and then try again. In an experiment, one can move forward even when they haven’t figured out all the details. This is important since we’re small and like to stay small. I tend to over-engineer things in other areas of my life, so it’s nice to be able to somewhat rely on gut feelings.
And being small, I figured the objective of Cahyati isn’t to produce the most. Having worked in media for a bit, and being a writer and editor myself, I just want to try to take the pressure off of bookmaking. This does not mean I won’t take the task seriously, but simply that making books shouldn’t be that big of a deal. You shouldn’t have to be a renowned writer to start publishing your work or come up with hundreds of pages of polished writing just so your work is deemed “eligible” for printing, and you sure shouldn’t need to print thousands of copies at a time just to keep the production costs down. Write a page, it’s a leaflet; write some more, and we’ll call it a chapbook. This won’t be easy for sure, but I don’t think it’s impossible. First, we need to find 1 (one) Riso printer that works with our budget, though. *sigh*
How about you, Kat—is there anything, in particular, you look forward to?
KM: Your emphasis on “taking the pressure off” might have been what sold me on the idea, as I also tend to get overly ambitious. But the pressure is definitely still on with the riso printer search…
I’m most excited about our upcoming collaborations! We’re incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people who happen to be our friends. We have quite a list: Gek Sri and Cempaka from a [working title] studio have been doing the store’s interior design, Nyon is designing our first merch, and we’re hoping to publish Prinka’s writing as our first release. I can hardly wait to show everyone.
Last but not least, I’m hyped about sharing our favorite books with everyone (spoiler for the readers: The book selection is looking great!). As someone who lives in Bali, what do you think we can offer as a small bookseller compared to giant chain bookstores?
Speaking of selling books, we wouldn’t have dared sell books to begin with if it weren’t for the encouragement and support from Teddy and Maesy. Their insights from running POST over the past eight years have been valuable.
As to what we can offer… I think the fact that we sell books in a very limited quantity means we can rotate our stocks quicker and thus introduce more variety compared to chain bookstores. After all, we’re trying to provide an alternative. It doesn’t necessarily mean we always or only sell titles that are obscure or whatever. We’re just selling different books, that’s all—and there are many different books we can sell. I think everyone can benefit from more variety.
I know the store construction has been driving us crazy, with the delay and some things being entirely out of our control… but maybe we can talk about what went right? What do you think we did well with the space?
KM: I think your initial vision was spot on, and I’ve been on board since day 1. My favorite things would be the color scheme we ended up with, our attempt at feng shui by balancing the different materials and finishes (we really tried), and our little chandelier tying the space together! Although sacrifices were made, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect space for our experiments. Soon, it will grow on us—and hopefully its visitors—even more. Thank you for sorting everything out while I’m all the way here. I can’t wait to visit in December!
SV: Me, too. I’m so glad we went with our guts! And I’m so, so, so excited to hang with you again IRL. 🤗
Mading Cahyati is a newsletter by Cahyati Press, a book-selling and -making experiment based in Bali, Indonesia. This newsletter is free, for everyone to read because we believe in information equality.
Since we are not making a profit from selling and making books, our founders maintain their full-time jobs to keep themselves and the Press afloat: Syarafina Vidyadhana (she/her) is a language specialist in Indonesia’s development sector, and Katyusha Methanisa (she/her) is a graduate working in an architecture company based on Yuggera and Turrbal Country in Meanjin (so-called Brisbane). We curate books during lunch breaks, work on the manuscripts on the weekends, and take days off from our day job to think of ways to improve our processes in Cahyati Press. Our store is kept by Syarafina Vidyadhana and Zahira Humaira and is open by appointment only.
As a not-for-profit organization, any money we make from selling books and merchandise and the entirety of your donations will go back into the Press. This includes covering the store’s rent and utility bills, compensating for our collaborators, and printing and making books. It goes without saying that your support is vital to our sustainability. If you wish to contribute to Cahyati Press—no amount is too small—you can send your donation to our Bank Jago account (109517297767 under Syarafina Vidyadhana), or through TransferWise (email@example.com). Or you can always buy our merchandise!