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Re: Changes in fine printing in California over the past 25 years

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  • bielerpr
    Hi Paul I thought I d respond here, rather than privately. A bit impromptu, but, hey, it s e-mail. I m going to extend your 25 years to 35 years as that would
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 30, 2009
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      Hi Paul

      I thought I'd respond here, rather than privately. A bit impromptu, but, hey, it's e-mail.

      I'm going to extend your 25 years to 35 years as that would then include the beginning of the publication Fine Print and the emergence of the "fine press renaissance," as it was termed. I think this would be more correct.

      I'm not sure that changes over the last third of a century would be specific to California but rather to the entirety of the U. S. and those other countries who were receptive. The primary difference in all regard is what was going on prior to. The mid-70s was the beginning of a community of sorts, and was far less regionally segregated, and could no longer be defined as such. I guess what I am saying is that the idea of focusing on a specific region is somewhat errant. Even though I only spent a decade in the midwest as a letterpress fine press book printer, it took well over that time period to establish myself as a California fine press book printer. And, it never made sense to me, since I saw the entirety of it as a new phenomenon that had little to do with what had gone before. To me, in terms of purpose and rational, there was a disconnect with the private press of the earlier century. This was something entirely new, The times and the communication channels had changed yet still the regional bias seem to linger. But, that is the way history works. It takes generations, to clear out.

      Based on Codex conference attendance I would suggest that fine press book printing/publishing has not declined (whether that be California or world wide), but rather stayed somewhat the same. What has changed, in regard to letterpress, is the relatively sudden influx of interest in the resurrected technology. There are a number of speculations regarding this but I won't go into that here and now. Nevertheless, I'd suggest that the practice of letterpress has expanded quite significantly since the turn of the century but this expansion has not included interest in book work. This is largely the result of changes in technology/cultural/aesthetic concern. The primary, in terms of significance, being internet communication and access, plus differing audiences. Secondly, the result of the photopolymer plate process and its conjoining with digital type and software rather than traditional technology. Thirdly, the focus on non-book related production, mainly card printing, a social/cultural phenomenon. The book, unfortunately, while maintaining status, no longer appears to have appeal to younger would-be printers, and this is simply part of current cultural trends.

      In regard to the question of the difference between books produced prior to the renaissance and those after, of course, significant changes occurred in the late 20th century, primarily due to the influence of the artist's book of the 80s and 90s. Fine press books were to incorporate many of these concerns. Today these are commonly known as "hybrids" (and, ahem, I coined the term in a predictive article I wrote in 1988), and they have little resemblance to the status quo of earlier periods. It is quite rare to find a fine press book today that does not show this influence, and it has nothing to do with California, anymore than it has to do with New York or London or Berlin or... it has to do with all of them.


      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Paul" <inferno_press@...> wrote:
      > As some of you already know, the Fall 2010 issue of Parenthesis: The Journal of the Fine Press Book Association will be a very special celebration of fine printing from the state of California. The Golden State's rich history of fine printing and its unusually strong concentration of active printers means we have a lot of area to cover — and this is both a blessing and a challenge.
      > As we prepare this special issue, I would like to ask your opinion about the changes that you have seen in the past 25 years in fine printing in California. I would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to answer the following questions and email me your responses. Your responses will be kept confidential and will help me plan this special issue.
      > My questions are:
      > 1. What have been the most significant changes in fine printing in California over the past quarter century?
      > 2. What trends do you see today that you didn't see 25 years ago?
      > 3. Are certain books being made today that you could not conceive being made 25 years ago? If so, please identify the books in question and state your reason why you believe this to be the case.
      > 4. If you believe that fine printing in the Golden State has stagnated, please explain why you believe this to be the case.
      > As I say, your responses will be kept confidential so please be as candid as you like.
      > Please send your replies to me at NAEditor [at] fpba.com no later than January 20.
      > I appreciate your taking the time to give these questions some thought.
      > Warm wishes,
      > Paul Razzell
      > North American Editor, Parenthesis: The Journal of the Fine Press Book Association
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