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Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books

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  • Susan Angebranndt
    I have gotten this sort of request as well. After asking a few questions, I usually find out that the author thinks that I am a publisher and will print and
    Message 1 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
      I have gotten this sort of request as well. After asking a few questions, I
      usually find out that the author thinks that I am a publisher and will
      print and market the poetry for free. I suggest they contact a
      self-publishing house (google "self-publishing", there are lots of them and
      lots of advice). I have printed one "vanity" book of poetry, and that
      author, a man in his late 60s, wanted exactly what I do (letterpress and
      hand bind) and was willing to pay me for my labor.

      >Recently received under the subject heading "your poetry books" was
      >the following email message:
      >
      >"What is BielerPress; and why are the books so expensive? If you don't
      >mind me asking. Is it possible of me to sumit?"
      >
      >I'd be interested in knowing how other members who produce fine press
      >poetry books would respond to a similar request. Or even how those who
      >do not think about this.
      >
    • Michael Andrews
      For me there is no choice: I produce poetry books because I am a poet. But, contrary to the assertions of the wordy Germanic gent, I am a cultural dinosaur and
      Message 2 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
        For me there is no choice: I produce poetry books
        because I am a poet. But, contrary to the assertions
        of the wordy Germanic gent, I am a cultural dinosaur
        and I do not find mush interest in the younger
        generations. Like Gerald, I have been at it for 32
        years as a small press, a publisher, editor, fine
        printer, letterpress and digital book maker and have
        witnessed the decay and change of all sorts of
        markets, particularly poetry, photography and books.

        I am not sure what the purple prose gentleman from
        someplace Germanic was saying because I could not find
        the focus of what he wanted to get across; a
        forest/trees phenomenon I guess. Mostly he seemed to
        be irate about the destructive effects of commercial
        capitalism and that is a worthy thing to be irate
        about. He is right about one other point; the fine
        press has largely focussed on the canon, the
        commercial press largely does academic trivia, the
        artist book world is contemptuous of literature and
        the small press is universally ignored. There really
        is no place for Gerald's inquisitive poet to go.

        So, in response to Gerald's question, I simply do not
        respond to such queries. One reason is that this is
        obviously a naive poet, discouraged by the exclusivity
        of the publishing cartel, and reaching for straws.
        Given the percentages, he is probably not a very good
        poet in the first place; but who knows what he may
        become in time. That is, if he actually is allowed to
        persist as a poet in the first place.

        But the real reason is that it is just too sad to
        respond.

        If I encourage him at all I feel guilty for poisoning
        him with false hope. If I tell him the truth I risk
        squashing what genuine enthusiasm and talent he may
        possess. With students, I learned to respect naivete,
        because only the naive will pursue hopeless goals and
        impossible dreams. And one day, some impossible
        dreamer might just make it despite the odds. The
        attrition rate in terms of shattered dreams and broken
        hearts is, however, appalling.

        It may be changing with the onslaught of globalized
        monolithic television culture, but one distinction
        used to be that the decline of literacy, poetry and
        books was confined to the US. In other parts of the
        world there still existed a certain respect for the
        poets. This was true in all of Latin America and the
        Middle East in the 70's, in Sweden and Greece. Perhaps
        that too is is undergoing extinction.

        It seems that we are literary dinosaurs and cultural
        buggy whip manufacturers.

        If the art dies with us it is the world's loss, not
        ours.

        Keep printing

        who knows what the gods have in mind
        and what else have got to do?

        michael





        --- Gerald Lange <bieler@...> wrote:

        > Recently received under the subject heading "your
        > poetry books" was
        > the following email message:
        >
        > "What is BielerPress; and why are the books so
        > expensive? If you don't
        > mind me asking. Is it possible of me to sumit?"
        >
        > I'd be interested in knowing how other members who
        > produce fine press
        > poetry books would respond to a similar request. Or
        > even how those who
        > do not think about this.
        >
        >
        > I should probably annotate this with a couple of
        > points:
        >
        > I have been involved with fine press production for
        > 30 years now and
        > have not issued a poetry book since the early 1990s.
        >
        >
        > I should also suggest that the fine press field is
        > no longer what it
        > was in the earlier years of the last quarter of the
        > 20th century and
        > that my own concerns in this regard are confused, as
        > they were with
        > the influx of the artist's book phenomenon in the
        > mid 1980s, and again
        > with the deconstructionist approach to typography in
        > the early to mid
        > 1990s.
        >
        > The current letterpress bubble seems primarily
        > driven by invitational
        > card printing and most new entrants to the field are
        > not drawn to the
        > concerns of the fine press, nor the amateur press.
        >
        > Most of my current work is in supplemental
        > assistance (typography,
        > platemaking, etc) with invitational card printers
        > and I have a pretty
        > good sense of cost and charges and expenses and
        > labor involved. In
        > relation to book work, the labor and associated
        > costs for cardwork are
        > minimal but the final charges to the clients are
        > somewhat
        > out-of-sight. I'm quite aware the landscape has
        > changed significantly.
        > Neither the fine press book nor the artist book have
        > anywhere near the
        > draw they once had. Things change and are expected
        > to, and they will
        > again.
        >
        >
        > So. . . basically I'm surprised anyone would even
        > inquire about what I
        > consider older generational activity.
        >
        >
        > Gerald
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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        >
        >
        >
        >
        >




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      • Norman L McKnight
        My first instinct in such a request is to say no, partly because I am already busy enough; my next instinct is to read between the lines to see if this person
        Message 3 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
          My first instinct in such a request is to say no, partly because I am
          already busy enough; my next instinct is to read between the lines to
          see if this person might just have something worth seeing.

          My last project was a broadside for a poet in upstate New York, and
          she is fairly well known & published by small presses in offset, but
          she wanted a broadside in letterpress & found me on the web. Since
          she wrote an interesting query I thought I would tell her I needed
          first to see the text. It was very short, rather like a Haiku, and it
          was terrific. I became energized to the task and both of us came out
          very happy for it.

          My other three efforts in this area were essentially vanity publishing.
          One was a local Berkeley antiques merchant whom I knew from his shop;
          he wanted about forty copies hand set & printed letterpress as gifts
          to family, friends & a couple of libraries. I cringed at the thought
          of what some people called poetry, but, again, his work was superb &
          very moving, all written in the nature of reflections following the
          death of three important friends. The book (actually forty odd pagaes)
          was very well received. He did a second book a year later then, his
          subject matter having decreased so badly, he stopped writing.

          The key to all of this was that I liked what I was printing and was
          inspired to see it through to a fine product. I wouldn't undertake
          this as a job, only as something I wanted to do; and since I am not
          a commercial operation I can do this. I turned down a translation
          from City Lights for an Italian poet who was actually a turn of the
          19th/20th century drag performer whose poetic obsession was basic
          body functions. I was, er, well, uninspired to lavish attention on
          this, shall we say.

          As far as the elitist controversy over fine printing is concerned,
          it is hardly possible to lavish skill, quality materials & hours &
          hours of very careful, hard work on something & expect it to be made
          available to everyone. Perhaps if we are going to be typecast as
          bourgeois cultural pretenders we should get rid of our Albions and
          Vandercooks and use our Epsons instead. I don't actually have to own
          things in order to appreciate them, and most of the fine press shows
          I have seen, such as the French Illustrated Books for example, have
          been a real inspiration for me. I'm glad somebody owns them and lets
          me see them, but I don't feel cheated for not being able have them
          myself. I am grateful that some people are still sufficiently ins-
          pired to make to do creative work well.

          Norman McKnight
          Philoxenia Press
          Berkeley
        • Scott Rubel
          I was taken aback by the comment that all books are meant to be widely distributed and read by all. Who s to say? There are plenty of texts that are not
          Message 4 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
            I was taken aback by the comment that all books are meant to be widely
            distributed and read by all.

            Who's to say? There are plenty of texts that are not written for a wide
            audience. As well, there are plenty of hand crafted books that are not
            meant to be affordable to everyone.

            Wide distribution is the job of the big publishers who emphasize getting
            material out efficiently at a price that anyone can afford.

            To some a book (the entire object) is a work of art, and the text isn't
            the only part of it. If a craftsman and printer wants to take that same
            material (or his own material) and turn it into his own masterpiece and
            future heirloom, you have to celebrate the craftsman. Should paintings
            be framed cheaply and put out on the street?

            Long live the fine press book and the wealthy bourgeois bibliophile
            snobs who purchase them for their mohogany shelves.

            --Scott Rubel

            <ppletterpress@...> wrote:

            But I ask myself what other purpose such editions serve, but the pleasing of wealthy bourgeois bibliophiles who are disappointed in the exclusivity of their collector's item if the edition runs over 146... This is what I call snobbery. Books, in the first place, are meant to be read, not to be put away on mahogany bookshelves. There are more people between heaven and earth that like to read, than are dreamt of in the capitalist logic of a retiring speculator that thinks of himself as a cultivated man of letters.

            Ludwig M. Solzen

            Norman L McKnight <philoxenia@...> wrote:

            >My first instinct in such a request is to say no, partly because I am
            >already busy enough; my next instinct is to read between the lines to
            >see if this person might just have something worth seeing.
            >
            >My last project was a broadside for a poet in upstate New York, and
            >she is fairly well known & published by small presses in offset, but
            >she wanted a broadside in letterpress & found me on the web. Since
            >she wrote an interesting query I thought I would tell her I needed
            >first to see the text. It was very short, rather like a Haiku, and it
            >was terrific. I became energized to the task and both of us came out
            >very happy for it.
            >
            >My other three efforts in this area were essentially vanity publishing.
            >One was a local Berkeley antiques merchant whom I knew from his shop;
            >he wanted about forty copies hand set & printed letterpress as gifts
            >to family, friends & a couple of libraries. I cringed at the thought
            >of what some people called poetry, but, again, his work was superb &
            >very moving, all written in the nature of reflections following the
            >death of three important friends. The book (actually forty odd pagaes)
            >was very well received. He did a second book a year later then, his
            >subject matter having decreased so badly, he stopped writing.
            >
            >The key to all of this was that I liked what I was printing and was
            >inspired to see it through to a fine product. I wouldn't undertake
            >this as a job, only as something I wanted to do; and since I am not
            >a commercial operation I can do this. I turned down a translation
            >from City Lights for an Italian poet who was actually a turn of the
            >19th/20th century drag performer whose poetic obsession was basic
            >body functions. I was, er, well, uninspired to lavish attention on
            >this, shall we say.
            >
            >As far as the elitist controversy over fine printing is concerned,
            >it is hardly possible to lavish skill, quality materials & hours &
            >hours of very careful, hard work on something & expect it to be made
            >available to everyone. Perhaps if we are going to be typecast as
            >bourgeois cultural pretenders we should get rid of our Albions and
            >Vandercooks and use our Epsons instead. I don't actually have to own
            >things in order to appreciate them, and most of the fine press shows
            >I have seen, such as the French Illustrated Books for example, have
            >been a real inspiration for me. I'm glad somebody owns them and lets
            >me see them, but I don't feel cheated for not being able have them
            >myself. I am grateful that some people are still sufficiently ins-
            >pired to make to do creative work well.
            >
            >Norman McKnight
            >Philoxenia Press
            >Berkeley
            >
          • Ludwig M. Solzen
            Dear Dinosaur Forgive me if I do not express myself always that very clear. And please do consider the Netherlands as Germanic, if you will, but in Flanders
            Message 5 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
              Dear Dinosaur

              Forgive me if I do not express myself always that very clear. And please do
              consider the Netherlands as Germanic, if you will, but in Flanders (the
              northern part of Belgium, that is, in the hart of good old Europe), we speak
              and feel Dutch, not German. English is not my mother tongue and as a matter
              of fact I do more writing and reading than speaking. If you take into
              account that I read by preference 19th century Victorian English prose,
              you'll likely understand why I find myself often so purple-tongued
              rhetorical , too.

              I'll *try* to be more laconic in giving a strait answer to Gerald's
              question. I do not have the reverend experience on which you and others
              might appeal, unless some modest familiarity with editing, publishing and
              marketing poetry and literature. For about eight years now, I am the editor
              of a literary magazine (www.van-nu-en-straks.be). Its contributions include
              poetry, from sonnets to epical or elegiac work of several pages, short
              stories and speculative essays, drawings, etchings, gouaches and oil
              painting. We don't take photography, neither such unfinished drafts of
              "conceptual" artists. Given the spiritual poorness of contemporary art, I
              understand that you "do not find much interest in the younger generations."
              And I admit most of my and my colleagues' work has an aging public too.
              Poetry, to us, means the concrete synthesis of metaphysical insight and
              existential experience with a thorough understanding of language and its
              rules, its grammar, orthography and metrics. Most of contemporary literature
              betrays the know-how that foregoing generations acquired in creating
              masterworks of art. This is a cultural fact, to be dealt with, whether its
              causes are television, deteriorating education or yet something else. Once
              this fact is accepted, one has to decide how to cope with present day
              cultural anarchy. Those who still enjoy the fruits of a careful education
              but lack the vigour for fighting cultural decline could become cynical or
              self-indulgent. Younger people might stand alone in their struggle for the
              conservation of our literary past and the creation of an artistic future. I
              hope not.

              Let me share some of my experiences. Being naïve idealists ourselves, eight
              years ago via local and national press we appealed to all that wanted to
              make an artistic contribution to the preservation of literary standards,
              together with the creative expression of the existential spirit of art and
              literature. At that point we still hadn't learned that such a message
              appeals to poorly talented dreamers too. Since then I get almost every month
              a request of unknown "writers" to publish their tryouts; I don't respond to
              them any longer, unless the work is of really good quality—I guess that is
              about once every two years. Because the rebellious broad speak of our
              magazine, its adherence to "archaic" and "reactionary" literary forms we
              became stigmatised as conservatives (and so by people twice our age!) or
              pretentious youngsters. Too, we sort of became the hoped-for refuge of
              untalented debutants. Alas, but by necessity we often have to break those
              harts and shatter their dreams—I can guarantee that if you don't, you might
              have some very unpleasant experiences because of that leniency... What makes
              our magazine that attractive, I guess, is its formal presentation: we use
              moulded paper, classical page lay-out with broad margins, Bembo &c. From the
              start we chose to do all of the design and DTP ourselves, because the sort
              of typographical quality we demanded for, simply isn't offered by local
              printers, unless, perhaps, at out-of-sight rates. Doing so, we learned a
              lot, I might claim. But here too, choosing for classical typography we
              awakened the odium of the cultural goeroes that promote their abject taste
              in sort of Bauhaus typography (badly done of course), mixed up with pomo
              typewriter fonts and sickening photography. Young people fed up with that
              rubbish feel fascinated by the classical harmony of our "old fashioned"
              designs, and so they come to us. But the costs! "Why is your magazine so
              expensive?" We charge more than double the price of an issue of competing
              magazines. I gave up explaining that moulded paper isn't as cheap as the
              paper ordinary folks use with their inkjet, or that our typefaces don't come
              with MS Windows, for free, or that because of the boycott of indoctrinated
              communal librarians we can't sell as much subscriptions as official
              magazines, and consequently have smaller (more expensive) print runs.

              Now, I feel confused: literature and art, in the first place, is a good to
              be shared by all people. It is the humanitarian task of each publisher. You
              might call me an old fashioned utopist, dreaming of enlightenment and public
              education. But on the other hand, in becoming more realistic, understanding
              more about marketing, production costs an so on, I feel disillusioned end
              perhaps even betrayed each time young poets think text setting is done by a
              machine and printing is just hitting a button or two. I am a fervent
              supporter of technological progress and its divulgation; I benefited from it
              myself. But the sad consequence, too, is the change in mentality. People are
              used to the easiness of desktop computers and printers, cheap copy shop
              prices and are not willing to pay the quality that is offered by real
              professionals, however idealistic those may be.

              Where I live, young couples usually pay their printer around € 300 (ca $
              360) for their wedding invitations. Most of them find that too much and go
              to the copy shop next door, or use the desktop printer in the office. Last
              week I did the wedding invitation of a very good friend, who is himself and
              antiquarian collector. First I suggested him to use broad sized cards, but
              because of postal rates, he withdrew from that plan. Then he thought the
              stationery paper I would use (Oud Hollands Van Gelder) too expensive too—I
              insisted however. I did the design and the printing within two weeks from
              the day he contacted me, and that includes the burning and replacement of my
              platen electric motor. Inspite of my efforts, after a week he asked if I
              couldn't use that very good laser printer of mine... I didn't charge my
              friend except for the paper, negatives and polymer. But what I am trying to
              say, between my lofty word trees, is that I have become very aware of
              today's generation's unwillingness to pay for typographic quality and fine
              presswork, whether that be books or invitational niceties. But I don't give
              up my idealism in working towards at least a better publishing and printing
              world.

              My modest advice to young poets: As long as you are more pondering about
              having your writings published you are not good enough a poet. And to my
              dear colleagues at the presses I dare say: spend the best of your attention
              to the quality of your work, but don't exaggerate the costs. It makes no
              sense to print ten copies on parchement, even when those copies are
              purchased more easily by some bourgeois show-off, than 500 copies of true
              qualitative poetry on more modest paper.

              Ludwig



              -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
              Van: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com [mailto:PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com]
              Namens Michael Andrews
              Verzonden: vrijdag 12 augustus 2005 16:40
              Aan: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
              Onderwerp: Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books

              For me there is no choice: I produce poetry books
              because I am a poet. But, contrary to the assertions
              of the wordy Germanic gent, I am a cultural dinosaur
              and I do not find mush interest in the younger
              generations. Like Gerald, I have been at it for 32
              years as a small press, a publisher, editor, fine
              printer, letterpress and digital book maker and have
              witnessed the decay and change of all sorts of
              markets, particularly poetry, photography and books.

              I am not sure what the purple prose gentleman from
              someplace Germanic was saying because I could not find
              the focus of what he wanted to get across; a
              forest/trees phenomenon I guess. Mostly he seemed to
              be irate about the destructive effects of commercial
              capitalism and that is a worthy thing to be irate
              about. He is right about one other point; the fine
              press has largely focussed on the canon, the
              commercial press largely does academic trivia, the
              artist book world is contemptuous of literature and
              the small press is universally ignored. There really
              is no place for Gerald's inquisitive poet to go.

              So, in response to Gerald's question, I simply do not
              respond to such queries. One reason is that this is
              obviously a naive poet, discouraged by the exclusivity
              of the publishing cartel, and reaching for straws.
              Given the percentages, he is probably not a very good
              poet in the first place; but who knows what he may
              become in time. That is, if he actually is allowed to
              persist as a poet in the first place.

              But the real reason is that it is just too sad to
              respond.

              If I encourage him at all I feel guilty for poisoning
              him with false hope. If I tell him the truth I risk
              squashing what genuine enthusiasm and talent he may
              possess. With students, I learned to respect naivete,
              because only the naive will pursue hopeless goals and
              impossible dreams. And one day, some impossible
              dreamer might just make it despite the odds. The
              attrition rate in terms of shattered dreams and broken
              hearts is, however, appalling.

              It may be changing with the onslaught of globalized
              monolithic television culture, but one distinction
              used to be that the decline of literacy, poetry and
              books was confined to the US. In other parts of the
              world there still existed a certain respect for the
              poets. This was true in all of Latin America and the
              Middle East in the 70's, in Sweden and Greece. Perhaps
              that too is is undergoing extinction.

              It seems that we are literary dinosaurs and cultural
              buggy whip manufacturers.

              If the art dies with us it is the world's loss, not
              ours.

              Keep printing

              who knows what the gods have in mind
              and what else have got to do?

              michael
            • Michael Barnes
              Dear Ludwig, I look forward to your letters to the group. Michael Andrews should not have commented as he did upon your or anybody else s style. Respectfully,
              Message 6 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                Dear Ludwig,

                I look forward to your letters to the group. Michael Andrews should not
                have commented as he did upon your or anybody else's style.

                Respectfully, Michael Barnes
                Vancouver


                On Aug 12, 2005, at 10:02 AM, Ludwig M. Solzen wrote:

                > Dear Dinosaur
                >
                > Forgive me if I do not express myself always that very clear. And
                > please do
                > consider the Netherlands as Germanic, if you will, but in Flanders (the
                > northern part of Belgium, that is, in the hart of good old Europe), we
                > speak
                > and feel Dutch, not German. English is not my mother tongue and as a
                > matter
                > of fact I do more writing and reading than speaking. If you take into
                > account that I read by preference 19th century Victorian English prose,
                > you'll likely understand why I find myself often so purple-tongued
                > rhetorical , too.
                >
                > I'll *try* to be more laconic in giving a strait answer to Gerald's
                > question. I do not have the reverend experience on which you and others
                > might appeal, unless some modest familiarity with editing, publishing
                > and
                > marketing poetry and literature. For about eight years now, I am the
                > editor
                > of a literary magazine (www.van-nu-en-straks.be). Its contributions
                > include
                > poetry, from sonnets to epical or elegiac work of several pages, short
                > stories and speculative essays, drawings, etchings, gouaches and oil
                > painting. We don't take photography, neither such unfinished drafts of
                > "conceptual" artists. Given the spiritual poorness of contemporary
                > art, I
                > understand that you "do not find much interest in the younger
                > generations."
                > And I admit most of my and my colleagues' work has an aging public too.
                > Poetry, to us, means the concrete synthesis of metaphysical insight and
                > existential experience with a thorough understanding of language and
                > its
                > rules, its grammar, orthography and metrics. Most of contemporary
                > literature
                > betrays the know-how that foregoing generations acquired in creating
                > masterworks of art. This is a cultural fact, to be dealt with, whether
                > its
                > causes are television, deteriorating education or yet something else.
                > Once
                > this fact is accepted, one has to decide how to cope with present day
                > cultural anarchy. Those who still enjoy the fruits of a careful
                > education
                > but lack the vigour for fighting cultural decline could become cynical
                > or
                > self-indulgent. Younger people might stand alone in their struggle for
                > the
                > conservation of our literary past and the creation of an artistic
                > future. I
                > hope not.
                >
                > Let me share some of my experiences. Being naïve idealists ourselves,
                > eight
                > years ago via local and national press we appealed to all that wanted
                > to
                > make an artistic contribution to the preservation of literary
                > standards,
                > together with the creative expression of the existential spirit of art
                > and
                > literature. At that point we still hadn't learned that such a message
                > appeals to poorly talented dreamers too. Since then I get almost every
                > month
                > a request of unknown "writers" to publish their tryouts; I don't
                > respond to
                > them any longer, unless the work is of really good quality—I guess
                > that is
                > about once every two years. Because the rebellious broad speak of our
                > magazine, its adherence to "archaic" and "reactionary" literary forms
                > we
                > became stigmatised as conservatives (and so by people twice our age!)
                > or
                > pretentious youngsters. Too, we sort of became the hoped-for refuge of
                > untalented debutants. Alas, but by necessity we often have to break
                > those
                > harts and shatter their dreams—I can guarantee that if you don't, you
                > might
                > have some very unpleasant experiences because of that leniency... What
                > makes
                > our magazine that attractive, I guess, is its formal presentation: we
                > use
                > moulded paper, classical page lay-out with broad margins, Bembo &c.
                > From the
                > start we chose to do all of the design and DTP ourselves, because the
                > sort
                > of typographical quality we demanded for, simply isn't offered by local
                > printers, unless, perhaps, at out-of-sight rates. Doing so, we learned
                > a
                > lot, I might claim. But here too, choosing for classical typography we
                > awakened the odium of the cultural goeroes that promote their abject
                > taste
                > in sort of Bauhaus typography (badly done of course), mixed up with
                > pomo
                > typewriter fonts and sickening photography. Young people fed up with
                > that
                > rubbish feel fascinated by the classical harmony of our "old fashioned"
                > designs, and so they come to us. But the costs! "Why is your magazine
                > so
                > expensive?" We charge more than double the price of an issue of
                > competing
                > magazines. I gave up explaining that moulded paper isn't as cheap as
                > the
                > paper ordinary folks use with their inkjet, or that our typefaces
                > don't come
                > with MS Windows, for free, or that because of the boycott of
                > indoctrinated
                > communal librarians we can't sell as much subscriptions as official
                > magazines, and consequently have smaller (more expensive) print runs.
                >
                > Now, I feel confused: literature and art, in the first place, is a
                > good to
                > be shared by all people. It is the humanitarian task of each
                > publisher. You
                > might call me an old fashioned utopist, dreaming of enlightenment and
                > public
                > education. But on the other hand, in becoming more realistic,
                > understanding
                > more about marketing, production costs an so on, I feel disillusioned
                > end
                > perhaps even betrayed each time young poets think text setting is done
                > by a
                > machine and printing is just hitting a button or two. I am a fervent
                > supporter of technological progress and its divulgation; I benefited
                > from it
                > myself. But the sad consequence, too, is the change in mentality.
                > People are
                > used to the easiness of desktop computers and printers, cheap copy shop
                > prices and are not willing to pay the quality that is offered by real
                > professionals, however idealistic those may be.
                >
                > Where I live, young couples usually pay their printer around € 300 (ca
                > $
                > 360) for their wedding invitations. Most of them find that too much
                > and go
                > to the copy shop next door, or use the desktop printer in the office.
                > Last
                > week I did the wedding invitation of a very good friend, who is
                > himself and
                > antiquarian collector. First I suggested him to use broad sized cards,
                > but
                > because of postal rates, he withdrew from that plan. Then he thought
                > the
                > stationery paper I would use (Oud Hollands Van Gelder) too expensive
                > too—I
                > insisted however. I did the design and the printing within two weeks
                > from
                > the day he contacted me, and that includes the burning and replacement
                > of my
                > platen electric motor. Inspite of my efforts, after a week he asked if
                > I
                > couldn't use that very good laser printer of mine... I didn't charge my
                > friend except for the paper, negatives and polymer. But what I am
                > trying to
                > say, between my lofty word trees, is that I have become very aware of
                > today's generation's unwillingness to pay for typographic quality and
                > fine
                > presswork, whether that be books or invitational niceties. But I don't
                > give
                > up my idealism in working towards at least a better publishing and
                > printing
                > world.
                >
                > My modest advice to young poets: As long as you are more pondering
                > about
                > having your writings published you are not good enough a poet. And to
                > my
                > dear colleagues at the presses I dare say: spend the best of your
                > attention
                > to the quality of your work, but don't exaggerate the costs. It makes
                > no
                > sense to print ten copies on parchement, even when those copies are
                > purchased more easily by some bourgeois show-off, than 500 copies of
                > true
                > qualitative poetry on more modest paper.
                >
                > Ludwig
                >
                >
                >
                > -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
                > Van: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > [mailto:PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com]
                > Namens Michael Andrews
                > Verzonden: vrijdag 12 augustus 2005 16:40
                > Aan: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > Onderwerp: Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books
                >
                > For me there is no choice: I produce poetry books
                > because I am a poet. But, contrary to the assertions
                > of the wordy Germanic gent, I am a cultural dinosaur
                > and I do not find mush interest in the younger
                > generations. Like Gerald, I have been at it for 32
                > years as a small press, a publisher, editor, fine
                > printer, letterpress and digital book maker and have
                > witnessed the decay and change of all sorts of
                > markets, particularly poetry, photography and books.
                >
                > I am not sure what the purple prose gentleman from
                > someplace Germanic was saying because I could not find
                > the focus of what he wanted to get across; a
                > forest/trees phenomenon I guess. Mostly he seemed to
                > be irate about the destructive effects of commercial
                > capitalism and that is a worthy thing to be irate
                > about. He is right about one other point; the fine
                > press has largely focussed on the canon, the
                > commercial press largely does academic trivia, the
                > artist book world is contemptuous of literature and
                > the small press is universally ignored. There really
                > is no place for Gerald's inquisitive poet to go.
                >
                > So, in response to Gerald's question, I simply do not
                > respond to such queries. One reason is that this is
                > obviously a naive poet, discouraged by the exclusivity
                > of the publishing cartel, and reaching for straws.
                > Given the percentages, he is probably not a very good
                > poet in the first place; but who knows what he may
                > become in time. That is, if he actually is allowed to
                > persist as a poet in the first place.
                >
                > But the real reason is that it is just too sad to
                > respond.
                >
                > If I encourage him at all I feel guilty for poisoning
                > him with false hope. If I tell him the truth I risk
                > squashing what genuine enthusiasm and talent he may
                > possess. With students, I learned to respect naivete,
                > because only the naive will pursue hopeless goals and
                > impossible dreams. And one day, some impossible
                > dreamer might just make it despite the odds. The
                > attrition rate in terms of shattered dreams and broken
                > hearts is, however, appalling.
                >
                > It may be changing with the onslaught of globalized
                > monolithic television culture, but one distinction
                > used to be that the decline of literacy, poetry and
                > books was confined to the US. In other parts of the
                > world there still existed a certain respect for the
                > poets. This was true in all of Latin America and the
                > Middle East in the 70's, in Sweden and Greece. Perhaps
                > that too is is undergoing extinction.
                >
                > It seems that we are literary dinosaurs and cultural
                > buggy whip manufacturers.
                >
                > If the art dies with us it is the world's loss, not
                > ours.
                >
                > Keep printing
                >
                > who knows what the gods have in mind
                > and what else have got to do?
                >
                > michael
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
              • typetom@aol.com
                Sorry Michael, I do appreciate Ludwig s comments and easily agree with his perspective more than with yours. Thorough and precise writing is not, as you say,
                Message 7 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                  Sorry Michael, I do appreciate Ludwig's comments and easily agree with his
                  perspective more than with yours. Thorough and precise writing is not, as you
                  say, purple prose. You claim to be a poet and an editor. But then you say you
                  don't find mush interest in the younger generations. That's a poetic turn of
                  the language, even if only an editing problem!

                  You say you do not reply to such queries as Gerald described. That's really
                  no answer at all. Certainly it is not the answer of an editor. Why bother,
                  given the percentages, what use is it any way, we're all gonna die. Your
                  approach, in fact, is self-indulgent. You publish as an extension of your own
                  internal need, not as an effort to bring other's work (edit, publish) to an
                  audience (readers) outside your self. David Godine has described this effort as
                  privatishing, not publishing -- don't really care about the public, about
                  extending connections between authors and readers, just care about one's own
                  expression/validity/poetry/artiness.

                  Seems to me that's a private press, at best a noble stand against the decay
                  of the world around, but at it's core just a vanity press, with very little
                  effort made to interact with that world.

                  I don't feel like a dinosaur. I don't print or publish for rare book
                  collectors, to be preserved behind glass for a future whose language and concerns
                  will regard everything today as quaint and archaic. I use my press, and
                  whatever talents I might have for expression and design, to meddle with the possible
                  present. Nice if some of this work is preserved and grows in value, but that
                  is not the point of it. Art has to be handled and felt; it cannot live in a
                  vault. The work of a publisher is to put writing in the hands of readers. That
                  means fingerprints. Art is most vital when we have to live with it, carry it
                  around with us and within us, use it up, wear it out in fact, so new art
                  becomes necessary.

                  What I do, what I have done many times, is invite this naive hopeless poet
                  to come visit my printshop, to take a look at the process, to see my poetry
                  library of thousands of other small poetic voices on the shelves, to see what a
                  line of handset type looks like, what pied type and type with dented serifs
                  looks like, which face, what size, what images, which paper, what color ink
                  and how much, what possible kind of binding. And then we might talk about what
                  he would do with the book if he had a small pile of them in hand, who is it
                  for? how many does he really need? what will be done with them?

                  So I might offer to print him a cover for his book, if he can find some way,
                  inkjet or laser or offset or if he gets a press himself, to make the
                  contents, then I'll show him how to sew and glue it together, and then we can talk
                  about whether there is enough poetry and small press activity for a reading or
                  a book party or a bookfair perhaps.

                  What I'm saying is we survive and grow by opening rather than closing. Lead
                  type and the old printing equipment wear out as it is used. But it is only by
                  using it that it is preserved -- that someone sees how it is done and in
                  fact knows enough about the process to take care of the valuable stuff when the
                  garbage truck is on the corner. (This may be a dynamic process I experience
                  more with handset type than with digital photopolymer work where we have given
                  up the physical connection with the past -- another extended philosophical
                  discussion I better let slide so I can get back to printing this morning...).

                  Gerald, if you are pessimist about small press poetry publishing today, I'd
                  suggest it is what you make it. I trade off some important part of my time
                  and energy printing wedding invitations and doing job work, yes. But I hope to
                  have in mind the connections to the world that informed the fine art of Ben
                  Franklin, and Devinne, and Updike as they worked. It's a balancing act.

                  I could name many presses and printer/editor/publishers who are carrying on
                  in fine style. Maybe one? Consider Paul Hunter's Wood Works Press in Seattle
                  (_www.woodworkspress.com_ (http://www.woodworkspress.com) ). He has handset
                  and printed 25 books in recent years. Plus dozens of broadsides. He has worked
                  to build an audience for contemporary writers, edited harshly with critical
                  support, designed with type and image and format to hold the specific writing
                  of each work. Every piece includes his remarkable woodblock prints and the
                  personal endorsement of his letterpress efforts as it is offered out to
                  possible readers. I am honored that he took my own uncertain book from me and
                  crafted and gave it back so the poems are now out in the world apart from me yet
                  available for me to use further. I doubt better editing and printing and
                  publishing was ever more possible than now. We need it!

                  Enough said.
                  Best wishes, Tom

                  Tom Parson
                  Now It's Up To You Publications
                  157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
                  (303) 777-8951
                  http://members.aol.com/typetom


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Jason Dewinetz
                  An interesting question and consideration brewing here. What I ve read thus far seems to be a mixture of sincere respect for the craft, a frustration with the
                  Message 8 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                    An interesting question and consideration brewing here. What I've read thus
                    far seems to be a mixture of sincere respect for the craft, a frustration
                    with the general public's lack-of-understanding of what's involved in fine
                    press book work, and, on the other hand, a certain arrogance ("If the art
                    dies with us it is the world's loss, not ours.") and ignorance ("...the
                    small press is universally ignored. There really is no place for Gerald's
                    inquisitive poet to go.") of the world beyond high-end letterpress work.

                    I say this with no disrespect, as I have nothing but respect for fine press
                    printers & publishers, but not only are there a variety of options for a
                    writer such as the one who queried Gerald, but Michael's take on the
                    struggling poet seems a bit too condescending:

                    "...this is obviously a naive poet, discouraged by the exclusivity of the
                    publishing cartel, and reaching for straws. Given the percentages, he is
                    probably not a very good poet in the first place; but who knows what he may
                    become in time. That is, if he actually is allowed to persist as a poet in
                    the first place."

                    It seems to me "allow" has nothing to do with it. Getting published isn't
                    easy, nor should it be.

                    Patrick Lane has a little speech he offers his first year creative writing
                    students that goes something like this. "There are 35 of you in this class
                    and you're all here because you think you know something, you think you have
                    something to say, and I'm going to help you learn to say it well. But by
                    next year there will be only 15 of you in this class. The year after, 10.
                    And by fourth year there may be 4 or 5. Five years after you graduate, 2 of
                    you may still be writing & publishing. In ten years, one may have developed
                    a career as a writer. I tell you this not to discourage you, but to awaken
                    you to the fact that being a writer is 10% talent and 90% dedication and
                    perseverance."

                    This, too, might be said of typography, printing & book making.

                    As a writer & poet more than ten years from that first creative writing
                    class in 1989 I now know the truth of Patrick's speech. Along the way I have
                    also become a micro-press publisher and a freelance book designer &
                    typographer. Through my press, Greenboathouse Books, I produce hand-made,
                    limited edition chapbooks of poetry by writers both new and established. I
                    use production methods from hand-set metal (rarely) to offset to digital
                    laser (primarily). As Robert Bringhurst commented on the latter, such
                    "fugitive media" raises serious issues around the longevity of toner on
                    paper, but my reason for mentioning all of this is that there are always
                    options, always alternatives, and with each comes consequences and
                    compromise, neither of which are necessarily negatives.

                    I can produce a well designed & constructed chapbook for a retail price of
                    $15 - $30. These, of course, are not in league with anything from Jan &
                    Krispen at Barbarian Press, yet my last 2 productions (by young,
                    contemporary Canadian poets) have won Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book
                    Design here in Canada (in the Limited Editions category).

                    There is, of course, no replacement for metal and good paper, for a
                    well-bound book in boards. I've held a copy of Bringhurst's recent
                    Parmenides book in my hands and there is a 1000 years of tradition gathered
                    into those pages with a new Greek translation from a text written long
                    before that period (http://www.peterkochprinters.com/show.php?bookid=3).
                    I've sat in the British Library with 6 copies of Jenson's Eusebius spread
                    out in front of me and basked in that beauty. But I've also held copies of
                    Frog Hollow Press' book from Victoria (letterpress), copies of Fox Run
                    Press' (letterpress) projects from the Sunshine Coast, and, I dare say,
                    copies of Greenboathouse Books' projects that I edited, designed, printed &
                    bound myself. And while the latter 3 certainly can't "compete" with the
                    former, they hold up just fine in their own right, and along with these 3
                    presses, there are dozens of others across Canada producing limited-run
                    poetry titles.

                    My point here is that in some cases the fine press world can often be as
                    insulated as the giant publishers, each thinking they are opposing and
                    exclusive champions of the book. Then there are the academic and small trade
                    publishers that do their thing as well. And then there is self-publishing,
                    and micro-press publishing, and then there is the unfortunate onslaught of
                    printing trade books with toner, and then there are 'zines and pamphlets and
                    a multitude of other underground and overground movements and printings
                    going on all the time. And this is, of course, as it should be.

                    I am a fan of beautiful books, and I would love to own more of them myself,
                    but the trick with truly fine press work is that it is often not accessible
                    to those who might appreciate it, with the exception of a rare few of course
                    (those with the cash, those close friends of printers, those who run a press
                    of their own and can trade copies back and forth).

                    And so, Caryl at Frog Hollow, Anik at Fox Run, and many others like myself
                    mix and match technologies old and new in order to create well made books
                    that are not such huge financial risks in order to publish poets much like
                    the one who went out on a limb to contact Gerald.

                    Now, please don't get me wrong. Spelling "submit" wrong is not an
                    encouraging detail, and there are, of course, far more horrible poets out
                    there than good ones; the point may be that poet's query has sparked this
                    conversation, an important one, and thus perhaps that poet deserves a brief
                    note pointing them in more suitable directions: literary magazines &
                    journals, which is where all new writers need to go to cut their teeth.


                    Jason Dewinetz


                    _______________________________________

                    Jason Dewinetz
                    Editor & Designer
                    Greenboathouse Books

                    www.greenboathouse.com











                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: Michael Andrews
                    To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 7:40 AM
                    Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books


                    For me there is no choice: I produce poetry books
                    because I am a poet. But, contrary to the assertions
                    of the wordy Germanic gent, I am a cultural dinosaur
                    and I do not find mush interest in the younger
                    generations. Like Gerald, I have been at it for 32
                    years as a small press, a publisher, editor, fine
                    printer, letterpress and digital book maker and have
                    witnessed the decay and change of all sorts of
                    markets, particularly poetry, photography and books.

                    I am not sure what the purple prose gentleman from
                    someplace Germanic was saying because I could not find
                    the focus of what he wanted to get across; a
                    forest/trees phenomenon I guess. Mostly he seemed to
                    be irate about the destructive effects of commercial
                    capitalism and that is a worthy thing to be irate
                    about. He is right about one other point; the fine
                    press has largely focussed on the canon, the
                    commercial press largely does academic trivia, the
                    artist book world is contemptuous of literature and
                    the small press is universally ignored. There really
                    is no place for Gerald's inquisitive poet to go.

                    So, in response to Gerald's question, I simply do not
                    respond to such queries. One reason is that this is
                    obviously a naive poet, discouraged by the exclusivity
                    of the publishing cartel, and reaching for straws.
                    Given the percentages, he is probably not a very good
                    poet in the first place; but who knows what he may
                    become in time. That is, if he actually is allowed to
                    persist as a poet in the first place.

                    But the real reason is that it is just too sad to
                    respond.

                    If I encourage him at all I feel guilty for poisoning
                    him with false hope. If I tell him the truth I risk
                    squashing what genuine enthusiasm and talent he may
                    possess. With students, I learned to respect naivete,
                    because only the naive will pursue hopeless goals and
                    impossible dreams. And one day, some impossible
                    dreamer might just make it despite the odds. The
                    attrition rate in terms of shattered dreams and broken
                    hearts is, however, appalling.

                    It may be changing with the onslaught of globalized
                    monolithic television culture, but one distinction
                    used to be that the decline of literacy, poetry and
                    books was confined to the US. In other parts of the
                    world there still existed a certain respect for the
                    poets. This was true in all of Latin America and the
                    Middle East in the 70's, in Sweden and Greece. Perhaps
                    that too is is undergoing extinction.

                    It seems that we are literary dinosaurs and cultural
                    buggy whip manufacturers.

                    If the art dies with us it is the world's loss, not
                    ours.

                    Keep printing

                    who knows what the gods have in mind
                    and what else have got to do?

                    michael





                    --- Gerald Lange <bieler@...> wrote:

                    > Recently received under the subject heading "your
                    > poetry books" was
                    > the following email message:
                    >
                    > "What is BielerPress; and why are the books so
                    > expensive? If you don't
                    > mind me asking. Is it possible of me to sumit?"
                    >
                    > I'd be interested in knowing how other members who
                    > produce fine press
                    > poetry books would respond to a similar request. Or
                    > even how those who
                    > do not think about this.
                    >
                    >
                    > I should probably annotate this with a couple of
                    > points:
                    >
                    > I have been involved with fine press production for
                    > 30 years now and
                    > have not issued a poetry book since the early 1990s.
                    >
                    >
                    > I should also suggest that the fine press field is
                    > no longer what it
                    > was in the earlier years of the last quarter of the
                    > 20th century and
                    > that my own concerns in this regard are confused, as
                    > they were with
                    > the influx of the artist's book phenomenon in the
                    > mid 1980s, and again
                    > with the deconstructionist approach to typography in
                    > the early to mid
                    > 1990s.
                    >
                    > The current letterpress bubble seems primarily
                    > driven by invitational
                    > card printing and most new entrants to the field are
                    > not drawn to the
                    > concerns of the fine press, nor the amateur press.
                    >
                    > Most of my current work is in supplemental
                    > assistance (typography,
                    > platemaking, etc) with invitational card printers
                    > and I have a pretty
                    > good sense of cost and charges and expenses and
                    > labor involved. In
                    > relation to book work, the labor and associated
                    > costs for cardwork are
                    > minimal but the final charges to the clients are
                    > somewhat
                    > out-of-sight. I'm quite aware the landscape has
                    > changed significantly.
                    > Neither the fine press book nor the artist book have
                    > anywhere near the
                    > draw they once had. Things change and are expected
                    > to, and they will
                    > again.
                    >
                    >
                    > So. . . basically I'm surprised anyone would even
                    > inquire about what I
                    > consider older generational activity.
                    >
                    >
                    > Gerald
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
                    > --------------------~-->
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                    /D=groups/S=1706389862:TM/Y=YAHOO/EXP=1123836164/A=2894362/R=0/SIG=138c78jl6
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                    >
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                    >
                    >
                    > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >




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                  • Raymond Nichols
                    I take a group of design students to London each summer for five weeks. One of the wonderful things we did this summer was to visit the Oxford University Press
                    Message 9 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                      I take a group of design students to London each summer for five
                      weeks. One of the wonderful things we did this summer was to visit
                      the Oxford University Press and the museum there. The archivist
                      brought out a number of interesting things to share with my students.

                      One was a book published for one.

                      It was for a woman that was color blind. The only combination she
                      could read was gold on green. They produced her favorite book of the
                      Bible, the Book of John.

                      The book was printed in an edition of two. One for the Press and one
                      for the woman. What a joy it must have been for her to hold it and
                      read it.

                      I think that is a wonderful example of books for some reason other
                      than the masses.

                      I'm not sure how much it cost but I would suspect you could measure
                      its value in ways other than just money.

                      Ray Nichols
                    • Gerald Lange
                      Thanks to all for the advice and for providing a very engaging thread. In regard to small press publishing and poetry I should perhaps mention that my interest
                      Message 10 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                        Thanks to all for the advice and for providing a very engaging thread.

                        In regard to small press publishing and poetry I should perhaps
                        mention that my interest in this is what got me involved with fine
                        press printing in the first place, so I am quite familiar with the
                        field and have indeed printed and published a number of broadsides,
                        chapbooks, and books of poetry (both trade and limited editions). And
                        the authors chosen did usually come to me "over the transom." In fact,
                        I have published the first books of authors who are now fairly well
                        known. I judged the poetry on how it appealed to me conceptually in
                        regard to book work and I was quite willing to publish experimental
                        work even though I knew it would provide little if any financial
                        return. And while I don't publish poetry any longer I still do provide
                        production work for publishers who do. As a matter of fact, I am
                        currently printing a poetry chapbook for Gruffyground Press (UK).

                        Nevertheless, as a publisher I think I can say that any author seeking
                        publication does need to have an understanding of the business and
                        does need to present themselves and their work in the best possible
                        light. And as Jason suggests get busy working their way up the ranks.
                        The fellow who posted to me revealed a bit more to me in those four
                        sentences than perhaps would likely benefit him (including the typo).
                        However, he does deserve a response. I assume this fellow happened
                        upon my blog which lists a couple of the poetry books I did in the
                        past. It also, however, lists my catalog. If I were appealing to a
                        publisher I would want to know as much about the work and intentions
                        of that publisher not only because I would be concerned about how my
                        work would be published and distributed but also because I would not
                        want to be wasting either his/her or my time.

                        On the other hand, if every poet was a shrewd business person we'd
                        likely not have much in the way of innovative or even interesting
                        poetry out there. A short email post is not likely to engage a reply
                        from most publishers (I almost deleted it as spam when I saw the
                        subject header) but who knows, there are many paths. Maybe this fellow
                        is sitting on the best manuscript ever written :—) So. . . I will make
                        a reply to him and if there is no further response or if the response
                        doesn't further engage me, case closed.

                        Thanks all

                        Gerald

                        --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Jason Dewinetz" <jason@g...> wrote:
                        > An interesting question and consideration brewing here. What I've
                        read thus
                        > far seems to be a mixture of sincere respect for the craft, a
                        frustration
                        > with the general public's lack-of-understanding of what's involved
                        in fine
                        > press book work, and, on the other hand, a certain arrogance ("If
                        the art
                        > dies with us it is the world's loss, not ours.") and ignorance ("...the
                        > small press is universally ignored. There really is no place for
                        Gerald's
                        > inquisitive poet to go.") of the world beyond high-end letterpress work.
                        >
                        > I say this with no disrespect, as I have nothing but respect for
                        fine press
                        > printers & publishers, but not only are there a variety of options for a
                        > writer such as the one who queried Gerald, but Michael's take on the
                        > struggling poet seems a bit too condescending:
                        >
                        > "...this is obviously a naive poet, discouraged by the exclusivity
                        of the
                        > publishing cartel, and reaching for straws. Given the percentages, he is
                        > probably not a very good poet in the first place; but who knows what
                        he may
                        > become in time. That is, if he actually is allowed to persist as a
                        poet in
                        > the first place."
                        >
                        > It seems to me "allow" has nothing to do with it. Getting published
                        isn't
                        > easy, nor should it be.
                        >
                        > Patrick Lane has a little speech he offers his first year creative
                        writing
                        > students that goes something like this. "There are 35 of you in this
                        class
                        > and you're all here because you think you know something, you think
                        you have
                        > something to say, and I'm going to help you learn to say it well. But by
                        > next year there will be only 15 of you in this class. The year
                        after, 10.
                        > And by fourth year there may be 4 or 5. Five years after you
                        graduate, 2 of
                        > you may still be writing & publishing. In ten years, one may have
                        developed
                        > a career as a writer. I tell you this not to discourage you, but to
                        awaken
                        > you to the fact that being a writer is 10% talent and 90% dedication and
                        > perseverance."
                        >
                        > This, too, might be said of typography, printing & book making.
                        >
                        > As a writer & poet more than ten years from that first creative writing
                        > class in 1989 I now know the truth of Patrick's speech. Along the
                        way I have
                        > also become a micro-press publisher and a freelance book designer &
                        > typographer. Through my press, Greenboathouse Books, I produce
                        hand-made,
                        > limited edition chapbooks of poetry by writers both new and
                        established. I
                        > use production methods from hand-set metal (rarely) to offset to digital
                        > laser (primarily). As Robert Bringhurst commented on the latter, such
                        > "fugitive media" raises serious issues around the longevity of toner on
                        > paper, but my reason for mentioning all of this is that there are always
                        > options, always alternatives, and with each comes consequences and
                        > compromise, neither of which are necessarily negatives.
                        >
                        > I can produce a well designed & constructed chapbook for a retail
                        price of
                        > $15 - $30. These, of course, are not in league with anything from Jan &
                        > Krispen at Barbarian Press, yet my last 2 productions (by young,
                        > contemporary Canadian poets) have won Alcuin Awards for Excellence
                        in Book
                        > Design here in Canada (in the Limited Editions category).
                        >
                        > There is, of course, no replacement for metal and good paper, for a
                        > well-bound book in boards. I've held a copy of Bringhurst's recent
                        > Parmenides book in my hands and there is a 1000 years of tradition
                        gathered
                        > into those pages with a new Greek translation from a text written long
                        > before that period (http://www.peterkochprinters.com/show.php?bookid=3).
                        > I've sat in the British Library with 6 copies of Jenson's Eusebius
                        spread
                        > out in front of me and basked in that beauty. But I've also held
                        copies of
                        > Frog Hollow Press' book from Victoria (letterpress), copies of Fox Run
                        > Press' (letterpress) projects from the Sunshine Coast, and, I dare say,
                        > copies of Greenboathouse Books' projects that I edited, designed,
                        printed &
                        > bound myself. And while the latter 3 certainly can't "compete" with the
                        > former, they hold up just fine in their own right, and along with
                        these 3
                        > presses, there are dozens of others across Canada producing limited-run
                        > poetry titles.
                        >
                        > My point here is that in some cases the fine press world can often be as
                        > insulated as the giant publishers, each thinking they are opposing and
                        > exclusive champions of the book. Then there are the academic and
                        small trade
                        > publishers that do their thing as well. And then there is
                        self-publishing,
                        > and micro-press publishing, and then there is the unfortunate
                        onslaught of
                        > printing trade books with toner, and then there are 'zines and
                        pamphlets and
                        > a multitude of other underground and overground movements and printings
                        > going on all the time. And this is, of course, as it should be.
                        >
                        > I am a fan of beautiful books, and I would love to own more of them
                        myself,
                        > but the trick with truly fine press work is that it is often not
                        accessible
                        > to those who might appreciate it, with the exception of a rare few
                        of course
                        > (those with the cash, those close friends of printers, those who run
                        a press
                        > of their own and can trade copies back and forth).
                        >
                        > And so, Caryl at Frog Hollow, Anik at Fox Run, and many others like
                        myself
                        > mix and match technologies old and new in order to create well made
                        books
                        > that are not such huge financial risks in order to publish poets
                        much like
                        > the one who went out on a limb to contact Gerald.
                        >
                        > Now, please don't get me wrong. Spelling "submit" wrong is not an
                        > encouraging detail, and there are, of course, far more horrible
                        poets out
                        > there than good ones; the point may be that poet's query has sparked
                        this
                        > conversation, an important one, and thus perhaps that poet deserves
                        a brief
                        > note pointing them in more suitable directions: literary magazines &
                        > journals, which is where all new writers need to go to cut their teeth.
                        >
                        >
                        > Jason Dewinetz
                        >
                        >
                        > _______________________________________
                        >
                        > Jason Dewinetz
                        > Editor & Designer
                        > Greenboathouse Books
                        >
                        > www.greenboathouse.com
                        >
                        >
                      • Marcia Preston
                        Please don t call me a wealthy bourgeois bibliophile. There are wonderful books being produced today by private presses, and I buy many because I deeply
                        Message 11 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                          Please don't call me a "wealthy bourgeois bibliophile." There are wonderful
                          books being produced today by private presses, and I buy many because I
                          deeply appreciate the devoted effort which has gone into the making of them.
                          I enjoy the texts, the illustrations and the beauty of their design and
                          materials. I especially delight in sharing them with others and acquainting
                          them with this kind of book, most of whom have not known of them. They do
                          not sit on my shelves unused or unread.

                          Instead of so much negativity, what can we all do to make these books better
                          known.

                          Marcia Preston


                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: Ludwig M. Solzen <ppletterpress@...>
                          To: <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 8:15 AM
                          Subject: RE: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books


                          Gerald

                          Your today's question somehow relates to the small discussion we had two
                          months ago, on June 18th-19th, regarding bookwork. I wrote some extra
                          remarks at that point, but didn't bother to send them through after all,
                          because I thought my personal feelings are of too less relevance to the
                          group's interests. But while you ask again- Since my entry into this group,
                          I joined in several discussions of very different sorts. Apart from
                          technical matters, I think it's a good thing, too, to consider once and a
                          while the precise nature of one's activity, its causes, means and all
                          personal motivations involved. I am myself however still a newcomer in the
                          field of digital letterpress, and thus feel somewhat annoyed in putting my
                          perhaps unrealistic visions into the forefront. Please tell me when I
                          exaggerate things and put too much youthful vigour or polemics in these
                          atavistic observations of mine. But please, do not speak of an "older
                          generational activity". Fine press publishing and more ore less
                          bibliophilistic bookwork is the province, not of age, not the hobby-horse of
                          aging midlifers, but of taste only, good taste that is, and the intellectual
                          refinement of man as such.


                          RE: [PPLetterpress] letterpress and the market

                          Do not understand me wrong: I am myself an enthusiast admirer of those
                          splendid books designed for the NY Limited Editions Club, by such
                          outstanding book artists as e.g. Jan Van Krimpen and Bram De Does. But I ask
                          myself what other purpose such editions serve, but the pleasing of wealthy
                          bourgeois bibliophiles who are disappointed in the exclusivity of their
                          collector's item if the edition runs over 146... This is what I call
                          snobbery. Books, in the first place, are meant to be read, not to be put
                          away on mahogany bookshelves. There are more people between heaven and earth
                          that like to read, than are dreamt of in the capitalist logic of a retiring
                          speculator that thinks of himself as a cultivated man of letters.

                          There are some other issues at stake. Suppose you're a publisher of fine
                          press books. The surest investment is the edition of a classic, of whose
                          texts there is by preference no fine press edition already. The offset of
                          such an edition is almost certainly guaranteed, since bibliophiles won't
                          bear to miss a fine edition of e.g. T.S. Eliot in their collections. The
                          problem is that if publishers would do only classics, the work of still
                          unknown authors will remain in oblivion. Publishers of trade editions take
                          popular (i.e. selling) authors only, and if fine press publishers would do
                          so as well, the prime task of the publishing world will be shamefully
                          neglected, that is, the divulgation of literature that is worth to be read.
                          It is no use to have a paperback of The Four Quartets in your personal
                          library, besides a fine press edition of the same poem. But it is meaningful
                          to have T.S. Eliot in a trade edition that is already available, along with
                          the edition of a young contemporary poet, of whose work no commercial
                          publisher endeavours an edition. As a consequence of this, contemporary
                          authors that do not share the fame of their classic predecessors, must
                          always reckon on a limited edition of their work, because commercial
                          publishers of trade editions will not take the risk. Such an edition is
                          'limited' not by snobbery motives, but because of the sheer fact that the
                          reading public in this particular case is limited.

                          One might use the notion "samizdat" for this sort of literature that escapes
                          the channels of the established market. In the USSR that market was
                          controlled by a political censure; in our day and age the market is
                          controlled by the commercial benefits of huge publishing enterprises. I do
                          not know about the situation in the US, but in my home country, we are for
                          several decades in need of a true literary publishing house. The book market
                          is controlled by two or three esteemed publishing houses that make or break
                          an author. Their representatives are in the committees that decide about
                          literary prizes and awards, they are in the official boards that decide
                          about governmental subsidy &c. Contemporary debuting authors are hyped, or
                          left into the shadows, according to the wimps of the literary mafia. And
                          here we confront a new type of political censorship: authors who adhere to
                          classical standards and who will not comply to postmodernist aesthetics or
                          deconstructionalist ideology are considered conservatives or even worse:
                          reactionaries.

                          Publishing the work of such modern day samizdat authors, by necessity will
                          bear upon limited editions. Since we are dealing with limited editions,
                          letterpress, to me, is the most adequate printing method. The runs are
                          small, but not too small, and the added value of its beauty will likely
                          encourage the buying public to take the risk of its investment.

                          But yet another consideration. Perhaps using such expressions as 'samizdat'
                          and 'young contemporary poets that are neglected by the established
                          publishing world' makes you think of debutants dreaming of recognition and
                          estimation, but who are in fact amateurs without talent. The offspring of a
                          spoiled generation that takes the bibliophilistic publication of its
                          squiggles for granted, used as it is to waste money rather on plastic
                          compact disks than on the pocket books it gets for free together with a
                          throw-away glossy magazine... I must confess I had similar feelings when I
                          visited the Minnipressen-Messe in Mainz this year. This so called "book fair
                          of private presses" has a long and revered tradition and its mission
                          statement sounds very appealing: the support and promotion of "den kleinen
                          und kleinsten Druckereien und Verlagen, auch Minipressen genannt, deren
                          Produktion in öffentlichen Bibliotheken und Archiven erfahrungsgemäß nur
                          schwer Aufnahme fand. Entweder wurden die geringen Auflagen gar nicht
                          bekannt, oder aber als 'Alternativliteratur' nicht zur Kenntnis genommen."
                          However, the present-day reality is that the Messe was crowded with
                          arty-farty hobbyists showing their linocuts and pubescent rhymes in
                          elaborate presentation folders, printed of course "by hand" in "limited
                          edition artist books". And these "private presses" stood shoulder by
                          shoulder with marginal copy shop publishers of anarchist propaganda,
                          promoters of macrobiotic food and yoga. One of the graphic artists I spoke
                          with, called his colleagues "Bastler", which is German for
                          "do-it-yourselvers". Gutenberg's home city once stood for fine book work and
                          serious publishing. Sic transit gloria mundi...

                          On each occasion I visited expositions of letterpress and bibliophile work,
                          it has always been my sad experience that letterpress seems to have come
                          into the poor hobby-craft realm of self-declared artists and authors. That's
                          yet another reason why I am personally fed up with such notions as "limited
                          edition" and "bibliophile press work". Is it the inevitable fate of
                          letterpress indeed? I recall that I like myself beautiful typography on
                          broadsheets, invitation cards and so forth, even with deep impression on
                          rough surfaced, moulded or hand-made papers. But such beauties one day were
                          called "Akzidenzen", and the general expression for letterpress, in German,
                          still is "Buchdruck".

                          Ludwig





                          Yahoo! Groups Links
                        • Michael Andrews
                          Sorry also. But I thought the question was about poetry, not fine print. Poets & Writers has a data base of about 3 million poets, anyway a lot, and these are
                          Message 12 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                            Sorry also.

                            But I thought the question was about poetry, not fine
                            print. Poets & Writers has a data base of about 3
                            million poets, anyway a lot, and these are just the
                            poets that know something about the poetry universe
                            they inhabit.

                            There are tens of millions beyond that, almost all
                            unread except by friends and relatives. As a small
                            press we have printed hundreds of books, mostly
                            student work, and a lot else besides. As a poetry
                            journal we have sometimes received 3000 submissions in
                            a month.

                            Who could possible even respond individually to them
                            all, let alone invite them in for a personal
                            show-and-tell?

                            In point of fact, the small press is more easily
                            capable of putting the words into a greater number of
                            reader's hands. The Fine Press can't even touch their
                            distribution, but it appeals to a whole other
                            sensibility, the look, smell and feel of the book as
                            object in addition to the content. I do not see that
                            these two realms are particularly at odds.

                            My point was that this poet of whom Gerald spoke seems
                            rather on the naive end of the millions. And that it
                            is sad to deal with the tender dreams of so many
                            desperate poets.

                            As for the self-indulgent accusation, well, shame on
                            me but that is exactly what Whitman and Blake did.
                            Luckily David Godine was not their editor.

                            But the difference here is probably the different
                            perspectives between the poet who prints and the
                            publisher who prints. Just a matter of differing
                            priorities.

                            Actually I agree with your hands on method. I often
                            claimed that every poet should be made to handset his
                            own book for no other reason than that it leads to a
                            better poet, a better reviser of his own work, and a
                            deeper respect for the number of words, letter,lines,
                            etc., not to mention a little more awareness of the
                            book making process.

                            I am not sure I can buy it solely as a justification
                            of the expenses and agonies of the letterpress
                            publisher.

                            Incidentally I do not claim to be a poet and publisher
                            - I am a poet and publisher.

                            I am not sure what the following means:
                            > .... You claim to be a poet and an
                            > editor. But then you say you
                            > don't find mush interest in the younger generations.
                            > That's a poetic turn of
                            > the language, even if only an editing problem!

                            Whatever.

                            I do agree with Gerald's observation - there is simply
                            less interest in poetry today, especially in the
                            younger generation, period. It effects very serious
                            economic concerns relating to the health and well
                            being of a publisher well beyond the dreams of would
                            be poets. It simply seems to be a sad fact.

                            Also, editors with large volumes of submissions almost
                            never respond to a submission that shows a lack
                            understanding and research of the market and of the
                            submission process. Fine Print and private presses do
                            not feel this crush because they receive only a small
                            percentage of that volume of submissions, and are,
                            therefore more likely to take each and every one more
                            personally.

                            But in the poetry world beyond the private press the
                            fact is that it is a jungle out there.

                            It is very good indeed, when some aspiring poet runs
                            into someone such as yourself who can afford to take
                            the time to introduce him to the printing press.

                            hats off

                            michael




                            --- typetom@... wrote:

                            > Sorry Michael, I do appreciate Ludwig's comments and
                            > easily agree with his
                            > perspective more than with yours. Thorough and
                            > precise writing is not, as you
                            > say, purple prose. You claim to be a poet and an
                            > editor. But then you say you
                            > don't find mush interest in the younger generations.
                            > That's a poetic turn of
                            > the language, even if only an editing problem!
                            >
                            > You say you do not reply to such queries as Gerald
                            > described. That's really
                            > no answer at all. Certainly it is not the answer of
                            > an editor. Why bother,
                            > given the percentages, what use is it any way, we're
                            > all gonna die. Your
                            > approach, in fact, is self-indulgent. You publish as
                            > an extension of your own
                            > internal need, not as an effort to bring other's
                            > work (edit, publish) to an
                            > audience (readers) outside your self. David Godine
                            > has described this effort as
                            > privatishing, not publishing -- don't really care
                            > about the public, about
                            > extending connections between authors and readers,
                            > just care about one's own
                            > expression/validity/poetry/artiness.
                            >
                            > Seems to me that's a private press, at best a noble
                            > stand against the decay
                            > of the world around, but at it's core just a vanity
                            > press, with very little
                            > effort made to interact with that world.
                            >
                            > I don't feel like a dinosaur. I don't print or
                            > publish for rare book
                            > collectors, to be preserved behind glass for a
                            > future whose language and concerns
                            > will regard everything today as quaint and archaic.
                            > I use my press, and
                            > whatever talents I might have for expression and
                            > design, to meddle with the possible
                            > present. Nice if some of this work is preserved and
                            > grows in value, but that
                            > is not the point of it. Art has to be handled and
                            > felt; it cannot live in a
                            > vault. The work of a publisher is to put writing in
                            > the hands of readers. That
                            > means fingerprints. Art is most vital when we have
                            > to live with it, carry it
                            > around with us and within us, use it up, wear it
                            > out in fact, so new art
                            > becomes necessary.
                            >
                            > What I do, what I have done many times, is invite
                            > this naive hopeless poet
                            > to come visit my printshop, to take a look at the
                            > process, to see my poetry
                            > library of thousands of other small poetic voices on
                            > the shelves, to see what a
                            > line of handset type looks like, what pied type and
                            > type with dented serifs
                            > looks like, which face, what size, what images,
                            > which paper, what color ink
                            > and how much, what possible kind of binding. And
                            > then we might talk about what
                            > he would do with the book if he had a small pile of
                            > them in hand, who is it
                            > for? how many does he really need? what will be done
                            > with them?
                            >
                            > So I might offer to print him a cover for his book,
                            > if he can find some way,
                            > inkjet or laser or offset or if he gets a press
                            > himself, to make the
                            > contents, then I'll show him how to sew and glue it
                            > together, and then we can talk
                            > about whether there is enough poetry and small press
                            > activity for a reading or
                            > a book party or a bookfair perhaps.
                            >
                            > What I'm saying is we survive and grow by opening
                            > rather than closing. Lead
                            > type and the old printing equipment wear out as it
                            > is used. But it is only by
                            > using it that it is preserved -- that someone sees
                            > how it is done and in
                            > fact knows enough about the process to take care of
                            > the valuable stuff when the
                            > garbage truck is on the corner. (This may be a
                            > dynamic process I experience
                            > more with handset type than with digital
                            > photopolymer work where we have given
                            > up the physical connection with the past -- another
                            > extended philosophical
                            > discussion I better let slide so I can get back to
                            > printing this morning...).
                            >
                            > Gerald, if you are pessimist about small press
                            > poetry publishing today, I'd
                            > suggest it is what you make it. I trade off some
                            > important part of my time
                            > and energy printing wedding invitations and doing
                            > job work, yes. But I hope to
                            > have in mind the connections to the world that
                            > informed the fine art of Ben
                            > Franklin, and Devinne, and Updike as they worked.
                            > It's a balancing act.
                            >
                            > I could name many presses and
                            > printer/editor/publishers who are carrying on
                            > in fine style. Maybe one? Consider Paul Hunter's
                            > Wood Works Press in Seattle
                            > (_www.woodworkspress.com_
                            > (http://www.woodworkspress.com) ). He has handset
                            > and printed 25 books in recent years. Plus dozens of
                            > broadsides. He has worked
                            > to build an audience for contemporary writers,
                            > edited harshly with critical
                            > support, designed with type and image and format to
                            > hold the specific writing
                            > of each work. Every piece includes his remarkable
                            > woodblock prints and the
                            > personal endorsement of his letterpress efforts as
                            > it is offered out to
                            > possible readers. I am honored that he took my own
                            > uncertain book from me and
                            > crafted and gave it back so the poems are now out
                            > in the world apart from me yet
                            > available for me to use further. I doubt better
                            > editing and printing and
                            > publishing was ever more possible than now. We need
                            > it!
                            >
                            > Enough said.
                            > Best wishes, Tom
                            >
                            > Tom Parson
                            > Now It's Up To You Publications
                            > 157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
                            > (303) 777-8951
                            > http://members.aol.com/typetom
                            >
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been
                            > removed]
                            >
                            >
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                          • Paul W. Romaine
                            I don t print poetry and I don t collect it, although I know some printers of it, and some collectors of same. I m a librarian and an academic by training and
                            Message 13 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                              I don't print poetry and I don't collect it, although I know some
                              printers of it, and some collectors of same. I'm a librarian and an
                              academic by training and a printer-wannabe, I suppose. I'm an
                              outsider, and in case anyone thinks I might have an iron in the fire,
                              let me also note that I'm not much interested in poetry after about
                              1800, although I'll grant space to Hopkins or Yeats. (And it's for
                              this reason that I refuse to answer a colleague who prints
                              contemporary poetry at a college press when he asks if I like
                              poetry--well... yes, but just not the last couple centuries or so.)
                              Some observations, with many generalizations that should be qualified
                              (with your help):

                              1. The poetry "crowd" (pardon that term) tends to publish in small
                              chapbooks, usually *inexpensive* and often printed offset, sometimes
                              using "print-on-demand" or laser or inkjet, but sometimes
                              letterpress. I see a lot of inexpensive booklets and printing--this
                              doesn't necessarily mean that it's poorly conceived or designed, but
                              there's an emphasis on keeping costs down. Some of this work is fine,
                              but some of it is not very attractive in terms of layout, materials,
                              etc. Sometimes this group wants to disseminate widely but more often,
                              it's a question of keeping poetry "affordable." That's admirable, but
                              if you're not already employed or rich, you'll usually find them
                              living in what I call "genteel poverty." One has to admire the fervor
                              of these idealists. I certainly do.

                              2. The more letterpress-ive poetry crowd may produce either
                              pamphlets, books or broadsides using letterpress (metal or
                              photopolymer). Aside from works from Merker, Duncan, or Hammady and
                              their disciples (isn't GL one?), I think that a number of these
                              publications are underpriced from the perspective of a living wage
                              for the producer, if printing is their main occupation. But let me
                              remind people that every one of these just-named printers had a home
                              in an academic institution which helped cover many of their base
                              costs. A lot of the centers for book arts will publish younger
                              poets--but remember, here, too, that these centers are also
                              subsidized, often through state granting agencies in the arts,
                              tax-exempt status, or through other monies and donations coming
                              through. (I don't see any problem with some these direct and indirect
                              subsidies for the arts.)

                              I see a lot of people who print privately coming out these
                              traditions, but without the subsidies or tax-exempt status which
                              their teachers had. Often, they run into the brick wall of what to do
                              about making a living, and then they have to find other jobs as
                              designers, job printers, wedding invitation printers, etc. A lot of
                              idealists here too, and often they'll make a run of it.

                              3. There is a "high-end" poetry printing crowd, produced in more
                              expensive editions, but these printers face a tension because many of
                              the buyers of poetry don't have the disposable income. (There is some
                              overlap with issues between this group and group #4.)

                              4. There is also a group which I'll call the "super-duper high-end"
                              poetry printing crowd: major typographer-poets who are able to
                              attract recognized artists and charge four or five figures for a book
                              in very limited edition that will be purchased by wealthy collectors
                              and institutions (and those institutions may include art museums
                              which have much bigger acquisitions budgets). Arion Press comes to mind.

                              This is fairly crude, but I think it gets at some tensions inherent
                              in any publication effort.

                              Ludwig: a small point on your 167 copies/LEC example. The Limited
                              Editions Club, Second series, were all printed in fairly large runs
                              of about 1600 copies for subscribers. Although I think some of her
                              evidence is problematic (being focused too heavily on printers like
                              John Henry Nash while tending to ignore US east coast printers who
                              might not fit her thesis), Megan Benton makes some interesting
                              arguments about bibliophilia (and marketed snobbery) of the early
                              20th C in America in _Beauty and the Book_. I think your argument
                              might benefit from skimming the book.

                              Ludwig (observation no.2, and more in the way of a joke): on laconic
                              vs. loquacious, there's always that apology, which is sometimes
                              ascribed to Paschal, and sometimes Montaigne (but it's probably
                              Cicero writing to Atticus): 'I would have written a *shorter*
                              response if I had had *more* time.' (And I would agree with your
                              comments on cultural decline linked to impoverished education and
                              lowered expectations--I may enjoy the kind of poetry that classicists
                              call "silver age," but it doesn't hold a lamp to the golden age verse.)

                              Booksnobs. I've met a lot of these, but they're not easy to
                              categorize. Yes, I've met a few who want pretty books for their room
                              ("interior decoration" types who buy leather books by the yard), but
                              I avoid these people--they're boring! Most of my favorite people ARE
                              book snobs. They love the physicality of books. They may not buy a
                              beautiful book for reading, but rather to savor a beautiful page or
                              binding, or to take pleasure in a wild and woolly wood engraving. It
                              gives them a certain joy, and you can see a hint of it when their
                              face lights up. One of my friends loves the ancients, and is always
                              looking for beautiful printings with which to enshrine their ideas.
                              Of course, as a high-priced attorney, he can afford this stuff. I
                              wish more of these people would have the... umm... cajones to
                              commission such work. It kills me that young starving printers might
                              be printing beautiful bilingual broadsides of Horace, and I'd love to
                              have my classics-loving lawyer friend see this stuff, but
                              unfortunately, he's currently hooked on Aldines. (sigh)

                              Booksnobs 2: I'll have to get the source, but there's an old line
                              about always buying three copies of a book: one to place on the
                              shelf, one to read, and one to lend to friends.

                              Scott: "Wide distribution is the job of the big publishers who
                              emphasize getting material out efficiently at a price that anyone can
                              afford." Yes, but... I think a lot of people in group #1 would point
                              out that we should not necessarily let the market decide which writer
                              gets wide distribution; also the big publishers are often quite
                              conservative and uncreative. My other response would be: for wide
                              distribution, there's always the web.

                              Gerald: bravo on your response to the poet-manque. Other comments
                              here remind me of famous rejection letters, but yours is the most
                              conscientious course.

                              Oh, and apologies: I would have written a shorter message if I'd had
                              more time. ;-)

                              Paul
                            • austin
                              ... Being a bit of a Curmudgeon myself, I find much of this thread a bit unnerving and undeserving of a comment but the less sane side of me says Ah to hell
                              Message 14 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                                Marcia Preston wrote:

                                > Please don't call me a "wealthy bourgeois bibliophile." There are
                                > wonderful
                                > books being produced today by private presses, and I buy many because I
                                > deeply appreciate the devoted effort which has gone into the making of
                                > them.
                                > I enjoy the texts, the illustrations and the beauty of their design and
                                > materials. I especially delight in sharing them with others and
                                > acquainting
                                > them with this kind of book, most of whom have not known of them. They do
                                > not sit on my shelves unused or unread.
                                >
                                > Instead of so much negativity, what can we all do to make these books
                                > better
                                > known.
                                >
                                > Marcia Preston
                                >
                                >
                                > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                >
                                Being a bit of a Curmudgeon myself, I find much of this thread a bit
                                unnerving and undeserving of a
                                comment but the less sane side of me says "Ah to hell with it, jump in
                                there."

                                Books are to be appreciated. Whether read or kept under lock and key is
                                irrelevant. People who want to
                                collect books for whatever reason have that right. I have just finished
                                reading a small book on Thomas
                                Jefferson's collection. Very interesting man. He constructed a device to
                                keep 5 books open at one time.
                                His objective was to read different subjects at different times of the
                                day. When the Capital and the
                                congressional library was burned by the British, Jefferson's library
                                became the foundation of the current
                                Library of Congress. The political furor raised over the varied subject
                                matter in Jefferson's collection was
                                intense. Jefferson loved books on all subjects as a source of
                                information to improve his understanding.

                                The ability to put words on paper so easily has lessened the value of
                                books in the eyes of the mass public.
                                The last thing we need is more books. What we need is a greater
                                appreciation of books. The mass
                                production of anything lessens its value. This holds true for books or
                                mouse traps. When we produce a
                                book using the oldest known method of printing, we add value to that
                                book. An acquaintance from New
                                Hampshire looked at a couple of my miniature books and observed " I
                                would like to have these books to
                                sell in my Jewelry Store. I will need to purchase them to sell for
                                $10.00 each." My attempts to explain
                                that this was a handmade item - the type is handset, the pages are
                                printed by hand and the binding is done
                                by hand - failed to convince him of their value. These are the people
                                who are trying to market to the
                                world books which are never read but are supposed to look "neat" on the
                                shelf.

                                While I do not subscribe to the ramblings about the decline of the
                                younger generation. I do think we have
                                a tremendous responsibility to sell the value added portion of our work.
                                I do not subscribe to the notion
                                of mass marketing of anything including art. There needs to be a connect
                                between artist and buyer.
                                Otherwise we are dealing with the only common denominator known to
                                modern man - Price.

                                To Gerald's original question - to respond or not to respond. If we put
                                ourselves on so a high a plain
                                that we cannot recognize a request from an interested human, we just
                                lowered ourselves to the level of
                                the most inconsiderate of mankind. We may think of ourselves as being
                                something special when we talk
                                to ourselves at night, but we can't indicate that feeling when asked a
                                question by another human. On a
                                more practical point, we need to qualify the inquiry very early in the
                                communication and decide how to
                                proceed. I get inquiries all the time re: value of equipment,
                                electrotypes, and documents. Most are
                                answered in a couple emails or phone calls. There are a few which turn
                                into something more. I feel that if
                                anyone who puts their name on the web they owe the world the courtesy of
                                a response to all inquires.

                                To all who made it through this, I appreciate your tolerance of this
                                tirade from a mouthy curmudgeon.


                                --


                                Austin Jones
                                prints by AJ
                                Point Pleasant, WV USA
                                austin@...
                                http://printsbyaj.com



                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Scott Rubel
                                I agree with you on this. I was only taking issue with the blanket statement that books are meant to be read widely. It depends on the contents of the book,
                                Message 15 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                                  I agree with you on this. I was only taking issue with the blanket
                                  statement that books are meant to be read widely.

                                  It depends on the contents of the book, and its nature. I am one of
                                  those who can continue to enjoy owning a book long after it is read,
                                  and enjoy the opening of it again because it is finely bound, and
                                  enjoy the smell of the un-yellowing pages again, and the feel of the
                                  type in the pages, and the wood engravings. I cannot afford enough of
                                  these, and my shelves are not mahogany, but I guess I'm a snob and I
                                  shall keep the ones I have until I am old and I catch a young person
                                  who is lost in the feel of a letterpress printed page.

                                  Not all books are made for the same purpose. Some pottery is for
                                  cradling flowers, and some for skeet shooting.

                                  ---Scott Rubel

                                  On Aug 12, 2005, at 7:27 PM, Paul W. Romaine wrote:

                                  >
                                  > Scott: "Wide distribution is the job of the big publishers who
                                  > emphasize getting material out efficiently at a price that anyone can
                                  > afford." Yes, but... I think a lot of people in group #1 would point
                                  > out that we should not necessarily let the market decide which writer
                                  > gets wide distribution; also the big publishers are often quite
                                  > conservative and uncreative. My other response would be: for wide
                                  > distribution, there's always the web.
                                  >
                                  > Paul


                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Jason Dewinetz
                                  Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting issues for me, and
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                    Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book
                                    maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting issues for
                                    me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the gap or split or perhaps
                                    even binary of content and container. This thread began with a request from
                                    an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to have d/evolved into a
                                    trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production, as though such a call
                                    were necessary.

                                    Austin's post was filled with very interesting comments, and I mean that
                                    with due respect:

                                    "The ability to put words on paper so easily has lessened the value of
                                    books in the eyes of the mass public. The last thing we need is more books.
                                    What we need is a greater
                                    appreciation of books. The mass production of anything lessens its value.
                                    This holds true for books or mouse traps."

                                    Each interesting statements, the more interesting when stated together. What
                                    kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here? Cost or investment or
                                    sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what intrigues me right away is any
                                    statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who is we? And do we really?
                                    And while the "mass production of anything lessens its value" certainly
                                    makes sense on both economical and aesthetic levels, it sets up a value
                                    system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is great for those who have.

                                    "When we produce a book using the oldest known method of printing, we add
                                    value to that book."

                                    Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is obviously true. But
                                    beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit narrow. What I think you're
                                    referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary and feeble idea of
                                    "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine craftsmanship. Yet how is
                                    this more valuable than a teenager's experience of reading a Xerox-copied
                                    'zine that speaks to their life at any given moment? I have a few comic
                                    books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world to me, even if they were
                                    made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating as we speak. I also, as
                                    mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting in the British Library
                                    turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in 1470 and somehow still
                                    beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never forget. Both of these are
                                    "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither of these
                                    experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.

                                    I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just raised interesting
                                    considerations. What I wanted to say in my last post is simply that there is
                                    no simple binary here between fine press work and mass production; there is
                                    always a myriad of opportunities and options for anyone wanting to produce
                                    something that communicates to others, and books are primarily about
                                    communicating; that is, content conveyed through a given vessel. The goal of
                                    producing a well designed and well made container for that content is of
                                    course what we're all interested in doing, yet much of this thread seems to
                                    be implying that the books we are discussing may as well be filled with
                                    placeholder text.

                                    I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden White's writings on "the
                                    content of form," arguing that the form of any writing speaks as clearly as
                                    its content. At the moment, however, it seems the form of the content has
                                    all but made irrelevant the content itself.


                                    Jason
                                  • Gerald Lange
                                    Jason I appreciate your well thought out posts but I m not sure this is such a black or white situation. I have mimeo publications I value more highly than
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                      Jason

                                      I appreciate your well thought out posts but I'm not sure this is such
                                      a black or white situation. I have mimeo publications I value more
                                      highly than many of the fine press books I own. I doubt most folks
                                      collect fine press books simply because they are fine press books, but
                                      rather that they represent something that is different from the
                                      mainstream. I like pretty much anything that is a bit off,
                                      alternative, but not in the accepted thinking of that, so most of it
                                      is worthless in a financial sense, but has incredible value in other
                                      ways, and this does not have anything to do with craftsmanship nor the
                                      empty filling of an accepted form.

                                      Quite frankly I suspect everything that is being done, that is outside
                                      of the mainstream, is primitivism, and this literally includes all of
                                      contemporary letterpress, and god bless it.

                                      Gerald


                                      > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book
                                      > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting
                                      issues for
                                      > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the gap or split or
                                      perhaps
                                      > even binary of content and container. This thread began with a
                                      request from
                                      > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to have d/evolved into a
                                      > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production, as though such a call
                                      > were necessary.
                                      >
                                      > Austin's post was filled with very interesting comments, and I mean that
                                      > with due respect:
                                      >
                                      > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has lessened the value of
                                      > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last thing we need is more
                                      books.
                                      > What we need is a greater
                                      > appreciation of books. The mass production of anything lessens its
                                      value.
                                      > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
                                      >
                                      > Each interesting statements, the more interesting when stated
                                      together. What
                                      > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here? Cost or investment or
                                      > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what intrigues me right away
                                      is any
                                      > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who is we? And do we
                                      really?
                                      > And while the "mass production of anything lessens its value" certainly
                                      > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic levels, it sets up a value
                                      > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is great for those who
                                      have.
                                      >
                                      > "When we produce a book using the oldest known method of printing,
                                      we add
                                      > value to that book."
                                      >
                                      > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is obviously true. But
                                      > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit narrow. What I think you're
                                      > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary and feeble idea of
                                      > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine craftsmanship. Yet how is
                                      > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of reading a
                                      Xerox-copied
                                      > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given moment? I have a few comic
                                      > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world to me, even if
                                      they were
                                      > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating as we speak. I
                                      also, as
                                      > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting in the British Library
                                      > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in 1470 and somehow still
                                      > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never forget. Both of these are
                                      > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither of these
                                      > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
                                      >
                                      > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just raised interesting
                                      > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last post is simply that
                                      there is
                                      > no simple binary here between fine press work and mass production;
                                      there is
                                      > always a myriad of opportunities and options for anyone wanting to
                                      produce
                                      > something that communicates to others, and books are primarily about
                                      > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a given vessel. The
                                      goal of
                                      > producing a well designed and well made container for that content is of
                                      > course what we're all interested in doing, yet much of this thread
                                      seems to
                                      > be implying that the books we are discussing may as well be filled with
                                      > placeholder text.
                                      >
                                      > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden White's writings
                                      on "the
                                      > content of form," arguing that the form of any writing speaks as
                                      clearly as
                                      > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the form of the
                                      content has
                                      > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Jason
                                    • Michael Andrews
                                      Gerald I have to agree with you about value residing in something other than financial worth. Like you, I have strong leanings toward content, and like you,
                                      Message 18 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                        Gerald

                                        I have to agree with you about value residing in
                                        something other than financial worth. Like you, I have
                                        strong leanings toward content, and like you, possess
                                        a number of beat up old paperbacks that are far more
                                        valuable to me than most other expensive books.

                                        Isn't primitivism another word for dinosaur?

                                        Jason

                                        You have summed up the argument revolving around
                                        rarity and exclusivity. The limited nature of labor
                                        intensive had crafting is called snobbery by folks who
                                        consider only the financial costs of mercenary
                                        collecting and the limited ability to include a wide
                                        spectrum of authors. But the very same paradigm
                                        applies to those who are in love with the book as
                                        object. This sets the debate in terms of a kind of
                                        tension between rapacious collecting and the love of
                                        the codex.

                                        The book as object is more than simply the look, feel,
                                        smell and design: it has much to do with the idea of
                                        bookness.

                                        The other tension is that between media and content;
                                        book as sculpture and book as communication.

                                        The idea of bookness seems to relate directly to your
                                        comment
                                        "to produce something that communicates to others, and
                                        books are primarily about communicating;"

                                        As far as I can tell the distinction between art and
                                        craft is the compulsion to communicate a considered
                                        world view. The idea of bookness as communication
                                        implies that there is no great chasm between the book
                                        as object, which represents the idea of communication,
                                        and the book as a media of content; the actual act of
                                        mind touching mind, the ecstatic revelation of whole
                                        other worlds.

                                        It is what makes us value the comic books we read in
                                        1954. And it is what makes Gerald love anything a bit
                                        off.

                                        The idea that we do not need more books but do need a
                                        greater appreciation of books simple states the
                                        obvious. The more interesting question is how to
                                        stimulate that greater appreciation.

                                        And this has been asked innumerable times, often
                                        responded to and sometimes acted upon. So far, there
                                        has been very little success. Reading still declines
                                        along with falling book sales.

                                        But those who think that the decline in reading and
                                        the disinterest of younger generations either does not
                                        exist or is of no account have simply refused to face
                                        the obvious facts.

                                        It is simply too well known, too well documented to
                                        ignore: the numerous studies on who reads books, the
                                        declining sales in books; the shifting of editorial
                                        and publishing activity from the commercial publisher
                                        and the small press right down to Gerald's financial
                                        restrictions on publishing poetry; the Internet;
                                        television; etc., etc., etc..

                                        I suspect that those who have not noticed this have
                                        simply not been involved with the book world for a
                                        long enough period of time, multiple decades at least,
                                        to notice the shift, or perhaps they inhabit some
                                        happy paradise comprised of a small number of
                                        individuals who still do read or buy books. There are
                                        a number of small sub-cultures that do read; but they
                                        no longer represent the majority of the population and
                                        more to the point have less and less impact on the
                                        direction, quality and actions of the culture at
                                        large.

                                        There ought to be another word besides literacy that
                                        could distinguish between the fact that we live in a
                                        culture where the majority are literate in that they
                                        can read and write; but we also live in a culture
                                        where the majority do not read printed pages between
                                        covers; they do not read books. Our culture is fast
                                        becoming functionally illiterate regarding its own
                                        roots, history, literature etc, the general dumbing
                                        down of America is a well known phenomenon. Just
                                        consider the fact that majority of wannabe poets have
                                        never read Pope, Homer, Jeffers, Li Po, Blake,
                                        Shakespeare, Archelocos, Tu Fu, Milton, Donne or even
                                        Bukowski and Ted Kooser. Worse yet, consider that
                                        evolution vs. creationism is even a matter of public
                                        debate. Welcome to the middle ages. There is a serious
                                        decline of mass intellectual horsepower, in spite of
                                        cloistereed sub cultures and aging literary donosaurs.

                                        I am with Gerald in lamenting this sad state of
                                        affairs; sadder because of our apparent impotence to
                                        reverse the situation. But I am also powerfully
                                        grateful, almost reverential toward those of you who
                                        still print and publish and bind and write and collect
                                        and read and touch and smell the idea of bookness.

                                        To echo Gerald, god bless it and god bless them.

                                        In a sense, the last dinosaur was an unwilling
                                        elitist. It wasn't a matter of intention, just a
                                        matter of fact; a fact that is largely beside the
                                        point.

                                        Scott had a nice metaphor: "Not all books are made for
                                        the same purpose. Some pottery is for cradling
                                        flowers, and some for skeet shooting."

                                        Thanks god someone is still molding the clay and
                                        someone is still smelling the roses.

                                        Michael




                                        --- Gerald Lange <bieler@...> wrote:

                                        > Jason
                                        >
                                        > I appreciate your well thought out posts but I'm not
                                        > sure this is such
                                        > a black or white situation. I have mimeo
                                        > publications I value more
                                        > highly than many of the fine press books I own. I
                                        > doubt most folks
                                        > collect fine press books simply because they are
                                        > fine press books, but
                                        > rather that they represent something that is
                                        > different from the
                                        > mainstream. I like pretty much anything that is a
                                        > bit off,
                                        > alternative, but not in the accepted thinking of
                                        > that, so most of it
                                        > is worthless in a financial sense, but has
                                        > incredible value in other
                                        > ways, and this does not have anything to do with
                                        > craftsmanship nor the
                                        > empty filling of an accepted form.
                                        >
                                        > Quite frankly I suspect everything that is being
                                        > done, that is outside
                                        > of the mainstream, is primitivism, and this
                                        > literally includes all of
                                        > contemporary letterpress, and god bless it.
                                        >
                                        > Gerald
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer,
                                        > publisher, designer, book
                                        > > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring
                                        > up interesting
                                        > issues for
                                        > > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the
                                        > gap or split or
                                        > perhaps
                                        > > even binary of content and container. This thread
                                        > began with a
                                        > request from
                                        > > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to
                                        > have d/evolved into a
                                        > > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production,
                                        > as though such a call
                                        > > were necessary.
                                        > >
                                        > > Austin's post was filled with very interesting
                                        > comments, and I mean that
                                        > > with due respect:
                                        > >
                                        > > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has
                                        > lessened the value of
                                        > > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last
                                        > thing we need is more
                                        > books.
                                        > > What we need is a greater
                                        > > appreciation of books. The mass production of
                                        > anything lessens its
                                        > value.
                                        > > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
                                        > >
                                        > > Each interesting statements, the more interesting
                                        > when stated
                                        > together. What
                                        > > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here?
                                        > Cost or investment or
                                        > > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what
                                        > intrigues me right away
                                        > is any
                                        > > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who
                                        > is we? And do we
                                        > really?
                                        > > And while the "mass production of anything lessens
                                        > its value" certainly
                                        > > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic
                                        > levels, it sets up a value
                                        > > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is
                                        > great for those who
                                        > have.
                                        > >
                                        > > "When we produce a book using the oldest known
                                        > method of printing,
                                        > we add
                                        > > value to that book."
                                        > >
                                        > > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is
                                        > obviously true. But
                                        > > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit
                                        > narrow. What I think you're
                                        > > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary
                                        > and feeble idea of
                                        > > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine
                                        > craftsmanship. Yet how is
                                        > > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of
                                        > reading a
                                        > Xerox-copied
                                        > > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given
                                        > moment? I have a few comic
                                        > > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world
                                        > to me, even if
                                        > they were
                                        > > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating
                                        > as we speak. I
                                        > also, as
                                        > > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting
                                        > in the British Library
                                        > > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in
                                        > 1470 and somehow still
                                        > > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never
                                        > forget. Both of these are
                                        > > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither
                                        > of these
                                        > > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
                                        > >
                                        > > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just
                                        > raised interesting
                                        > > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last
                                        > post is simply that
                                        > there is
                                        > > no simple binary here between fine press work and
                                        > mass production;
                                        > there is
                                        > > always a myriad of opportunities and options for
                                        > anyone wanting to
                                        > produce
                                        > > something that communicates to others, and books
                                        > are primarily about
                                        > > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a
                                        > given vessel. The
                                        > goal of
                                        > > producing a well designed and well made container
                                        > for that content is of
                                        > > course what we're all interested in doing, yet
                                        > much of this thread
                                        > seems to
                                        > > be implying that the books we are discussing may
                                        > as well be filled with
                                        > > placeholder text.
                                        > >
                                        > > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden
                                        > White's writings
                                        > on "the
                                        > > content of form," arguing that the form of any
                                        > writing speaks as
                                        > clearly as
                                        > > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the
                                        > form of the
                                        > content has
                                        > > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > > Jason
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
                                        > --------------------~-->
                                        > <font face=arial size=-1><a
                                        >
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                                        > would our lives be like without music, dance, and
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                                      • austin
                                        ... Jason, As the old saying goes, Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, likewise Value is in the eye of the Buyer. Value is what the buyer sees and perceives
                                        Message 19 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                          Jason Dewinetz wrote:

                                          >
                                          >
                                          > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has lessened the value of
                                          > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last thing we need is more
                                          > books.
                                          > What we need is a greater
                                          > appreciation of books. The mass production of anything lessens its value.
                                          > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
                                          >
                                          > Each interesting statements, the more interesting when stated
                                          > together. What
                                          > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here? Cost or investment or
                                          > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what intrigues me right away is any
                                          > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who is we? And do we really?
                                          > And while the "mass production of anything lessens its value" certainly
                                          > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic levels, it sets up a value
                                          > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is great for those who have.
                                          >
                                          > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          >
                                          Jason,

                                          As the old saying goes, Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, likewise
                                          Value is in the eye of the Buyer. Value is what the buyer sees and
                                          perceives in a potential purchase. A can of worms from Wal-Mart or a can
                                          of worms from Target. What is the difference? Only what the buyer perceives.

                                          A book printed and distributed by the millions is obviously seen
                                          differently than a book produced in limited numbers and by less
                                          mechanized methods. We as producers of books have an opportunity to
                                          promote and sell this value added aspect of the product.

                                          Value is not strictly a dollar amount. It is what we feel about
                                          something. Be it material things or the more intangible - friends and
                                          relationships.

                                          The WE in "we need" is us - the people who are marketing products of the
                                          printing press. We need - People who can appreciate the efforts of those
                                          in history from Gutenberg to Goudy. People who recognize that without
                                          the efforts of those who came before as well as those of us today who
                                          are putting the same dedication and effort into preserving the printed
                                          page the world would be a very boring place.

                                          You obviously read my complete ramble. I appreciate and enjoy this type
                                          of discourse. It is the exchange of values, priorities, and purpose that
                                          maintains the edge.

                                          tks

                                          --


                                          Austin Jones
                                          prints by AJ
                                          Point Pleasant, WV USA
                                          austin@...
                                          http://printsbyaj.com



                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • Jason Dewinetz
                                          I woke this morning wondering if I d perhaps shoved my foot down my throat with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and appreciate
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                            I woke this morning wondering if I'd perhaps shoved my foot down my throat
                                            with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and
                                            appreciate that I've finally ventured into this forum rather than continuing
                                            to lurk in the background.

                                            I certainly didn't mean to privilege the "commercial" value of anything, I
                                            was instead speaking to the same comment Gerald made, that "this is not so
                                            much a black and white situation." Exactly the point. I've just finished
                                            hosting this year's Greenboathouse Reading Series and part of what I love
                                            about putting on this event is the enjoyment and appreciation I see on the
                                            faces of the audience as they browse the display of books during our
                                            intermissions. Many of these are our chapbooks that are out of print and
                                            unavailable, and thus these sorts of events are the only time I get to see
                                            people interacting with the books, picking them up, turning them over,
                                            running fingers across the cover stock, and even, indeed, taking a sniff.
                                            It's wonderful. Wonderful both because I half-broke my back craning to sew
                                            them together, and because of the pleasure others seems to take in the
                                            books.

                                            Michael wrote: "There are a number of small sub-cultures that do read; but
                                            they no longer represent the majority of the population and more to the
                                            point have less and less impact on the direction, quality and actions of the
                                            culture at large."

                                            And I suppose I have to acknowledge that I'm lodged in one of those
                                            sub-cultures, comprised of a small readership ranging in age from 15-80 who
                                            are avid readers of poetry and drawn to an attractively produced book both
                                            in terms of design (typography) and production (materials, binding, etc.). I
                                            forget, often, that I'm lucky to have found such a readership that allows me
                                            to keep Greenboathouse up and running. I forget, also, that most might
                                            expect such an enterprise to bring in some form of personal income. This has
                                            never been a goal for me. In fact, I've often thought attempting such a
                                            "business" would immediately remove the pleasure from the equation, so I'm
                                            quite happy to write-off my losses at the end of each year and continue
                                            sewing in the evenings for my own sense of enjoyment and calm.

                                            Perhaps that was my point. Not to promote this or that, or to impose an
                                            appreciation of anything on "the masses," but to appreciate the opportunity
                                            to do what I do. And I do.

                                            Perhaps the world is going to hell in an empty book-bag, perhaps that's sad,
                                            but I'm reluctant to think that I know what's good for the world, and often
                                            leery of others who think they might know.

                                            That said, and as said in the last few posts, from my subjective,
                                            self-important position, god bless each of you who make beautiful books. Yet
                                            there's no real need for such a blessing. The blessing is in the setting,
                                            and binding, and scoring, and sewing...


                                            Jason
                                          • Gerald Lange
                                            Michael Next time you are at the newstand buy yourself a copy of Raw Vision: the international journal of intuitive and visionary art [outsider art/art
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                              Michael

                                              Next time you are at the newstand buy yourself a copy of Raw Vision:
                                              the international journal of intuitive and visionary art [outsider
                                              art/art brut/self-taught art/contemporary folk art]. Primitivism ain't
                                              no dinosaur. One of the selectors at the Victoria and Albert Museum
                                              told me the entire post war book arts collection (which includes fine
                                              press books and artists books) is based on it.

                                              Gerald



                                              >
                                              > Gerald
                                              >
                                              . . .
                                              >
                                              > Isn't primitivism another word for dinosaur?
                                              >
                                              . . .
                                              >
                                              > Michael
                                            • Gerald Lange
                                              Going way back to the front of the thread: I find this on Google, an article from Coda, the journal of Poets & Writers (Michael mentioned the org), How to get
                                              Message 22 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                                Going way back to the front of the thread:

                                                I find this on Google, an article from Coda, the journal of Poets &
                                                Writers (Michael mentioned the org), "How to get out of the slush
                                                pile." This is for writers seeking to make connections with
                                                publishers. It's about twenty years old now and I had forgotten about
                                                it. They had interviewed me for a segment of it. I guess the fact that
                                                is still up and running might suggest it has some useful information?

                                                http://www.pw.org/mag/articles/a8206-1.htm

                                                Gerald
                                              • Sue Clancy
                                                Lurker lured from the shadows here - I just had to add my two cents. I m another member of that sub-culture of readers that are mentioned below. In fact I
                                                Message 23 of 29 , Aug 14, 2005
                                                  Lurker lured from the shadows here - I just had to add my two cents.
                                                  I'm another member of that sub-culture of readers that are mentioned
                                                  below. In fact I even belong to the sub-culture of those with 'Book
                                                  Lust'. Looking at a beautifully crafted book with leather and
                                                  hand-marbled covers and hand-marbled endpages gives me a thrill! I want
                                                  to hold (and own) them all! I love the feel, the look, the texture -
                                                  and yes the smell - of a good handsewn book!
                                                  While I enjoy some of the content of books out there in the
                                                  mass-produced world, for me there is no comparison to a book with
                                                  wonderful content AND beautiful craftsmanship! That is truely a book of
                                                  beauty and something to enjoy!
                                                  I think life has to be about more than fast food, cheap knock-offs and
                                                  thrown together bric-a-brac.
                                                  Where's the beauty? Where's the love? Where's the fireside, a
                                                  well-made book and a good wine?
                                                  That's where I'll be!
                                                  Keep it up all ye makers of beauty!!!!!
                                                  Sue Clancy

                                                  Jason Dewinetz wrote:

                                                  >I woke this morning wondering if I'd perhaps shoved my foot down my throat
                                                  >with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and
                                                  >appreciate that I've finally ventured into this forum rather than continuing
                                                  >to lurk in the background.
                                                  >
                                                  >I certainly didn't mean to privilege the "commercial" value of anything, I
                                                  >was instead speaking to the same comment Gerald made, that "this is not so
                                                  >much a black and white situation." Exactly the point. I've just finished
                                                  >hosting this year's Greenboathouse Reading Series and part of what I love
                                                  >about putting on this event is the enjoyment and appreciation I see on the
                                                  >faces of the audience as they browse the display of books during our
                                                  >intermissions. Many of these are our chapbooks that are out of print and
                                                  >unavailable, and thus these sorts of events are the only time I get to see
                                                  >people interacting with the books, picking them up, turning them over,
                                                  >running fingers across the cover stock, and even, indeed, taking a sniff.
                                                  >It's wonderful. Wonderful both because I half-broke my back craning to sew
                                                  >them together, and because of the pleasure others seems to take in the
                                                  >books.
                                                  >
                                                  >Michael wrote: "There are a number of small sub-cultures that do read; but
                                                  >they no longer represent the majority of the population and more to the
                                                  >point have less and less impact on the direction, quality and actions of the
                                                  >culture at large."
                                                  >
                                                  >And I suppose I have to acknowledge that I'm lodged in one of those
                                                  >sub-cultures, comprised of a small readership ranging in age from 15-80 who
                                                  >are avid readers of poetry and drawn to an attractively produced book both
                                                  >in terms of design (typography) and production (materials, binding, etc.). I
                                                  >forget, often, that I'm lucky to have found such a readership that allows me
                                                  >to keep Greenboathouse up and running. I forget, also, that most might
                                                  >expect such an enterprise to bring in some form of personal income. This has
                                                  >never been a goal for me. In fact, I've often thought attempting such a
                                                  >"business" would immediately remove the pleasure from the equation, so I'm
                                                  >quite happy to write-off my losses at the end of each year and continue
                                                  >sewing in the evenings for my own sense of enjoyment and calm.
                                                  >
                                                  >Perhaps that was my point. Not to promote this or that, or to impose an
                                                  >appreciation of anything on "the masses," but to appreciate the opportunity
                                                  >to do what I do. And I do.
                                                  >
                                                  >Perhaps the world is going to hell in an empty book-bag, perhaps that's sad,
                                                  >but I'm reluctant to think that I know what's good for the world, and often
                                                  >leery of others who think they might know.
                                                  >
                                                  >That said, and as said in the last few posts, from my subjective,
                                                  >self-important position, god bless each of you who make beautiful books. Yet
                                                  >there's no real need for such a blessing. The blessing is in the setting,
                                                  >and binding, and scoring, and sewing...
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >Jason
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                • Kathleen Whalen
                                                  Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your love of
                                                  Message 24 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                                                    Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that
                                                    lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your
                                                    love of nice paper, the look of the ink on the paper (and on the press for
                                                    that matter!), the thrill of seeing that if you just shift that title two
                                                    ems to the left, drop the address or add another line to the border you've
                                                    created a cracking title page, not to mention the sheer satisfaction of
                                                    planning, printing, collating and binding a book -- A BOOK!

                                                    Graham prints because he can't help himself, because he loves it. We think
                                                    our books are good; we enjoy reading them; we enjoy the illustrations; we
                                                    enjoy making them, and we delight in looking at them after they are made --
                                                    that's why book fairs like the Oak Knoll Book Fest and the Oxford Fine Press
                                                    Book Fair are such fun: we get to talk about the books we made last year, to
                                                    tell you why we made the choices we did, and you get to talk to us about the
                                                    books, what you like or don't like about them. And isn't it wonderful to see
                                                    a room full of people making interesting books?

                                                    And we like to think, like any Private Press worth its salt, that we print
                                                    whatever takes our fancy. We print poetry -- two of my favourite Incline
                                                    Press books are slim volumes of poetry, sometimes biography, sometimes a
                                                    light-hearted something to accompany Burt Eastman's joyous linocuts. To
                                                    some extent talking about privileging hand made books, or commercial vs
                                                    noncommercial sub-cultures adds a layer of complication to what, for most of
                                                    us, is amazingly simple: we like books, and the more bookish they are the
                                                    better.


                                                    Kathy Whalen
                                                    Incline Press
                                                    36 Bow Street
                                                    Oldham OL1 1SJ England
                                                    http://www.inclinepress.com
                                                  • Sue Clancy
                                                    Oh Yes! I totally understand printing because you can t help yourself! When I was a kid - about 4 or 5 - I made my first book. I d gotten into my
                                                    Message 25 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                                                      Oh Yes! I totally understand printing because you can't help yourself!
                                                      When I was a kid - about 4 or 5 - I made my first book. I'd gotten
                                                      into my grandmothers ink pads and discovered 'printing'!!!! (Grandma
                                                      was a librarian - and this was back in the day when librarians 'stamped'
                                                      books as checked out/returned) I remember that I found some paper (and
                                                      the walls) and 'printed' my hand over and over on lots of pages and made
                                                      a book!
                                                      Of course now I create block-prints and pen/brush & ink illustrations
                                                      for my books and sew them by hand - and I make handmarbled papers - but
                                                      I think I caught the 'book - bug' early and I never want to be
                                                      cured!!!!!!!!!! <grin>
                                                      Yes I agree - Commercial/non commercial - it hardly makes a difference
                                                      when you love books. In some ways I'm of two minds. On the one hand I
                                                      appreciate the 'commercial' book world for having put out books on every
                                                      imaginable subject and made them widely/easily available and affordable.
                                                      Yet on the other hand I feel that the book needs to be well crafted as I
                                                      am frustrated by the commercial books that fall apart on the first
                                                      reading because they weren't well made in the first place.
                                                      So I have this question - at what point does the 'mass production' of
                                                      books begin to be too ubiquitous - like McDonalds - and cease to have
                                                      flavor or value. At what point does the hiqh quality craftmanship begin
                                                      to be too exclusive and the content not available to a large enough
                                                      audience?
                                                      Or does it matter?
                                                      Kathy and Graham - I'll have to look at your website!!! What
                                                      fun!!!!!!!! Fun conversation too!
                                                      Sue Clancy

                                                      Kathleen Whalen wrote:

                                                      >Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that
                                                      >lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your
                                                      >love of nice paper, the look of the ink on the paper (and on the press for
                                                      >that matter!), the thrill of seeing that if you just shift that title two
                                                      >ems to the left, drop the address or add another line to the border you've
                                                      >created a cracking title page, not to mention the sheer satisfaction of
                                                      >planning, printing, collating and binding a book -- A BOOK!
                                                      >
                                                      >Graham prints because he can't help himself, because he loves it. We think
                                                      >our books are good; we enjoy reading them; we enjoy the illustrations; we
                                                      >enjoy making them, and we delight in looking at them after they are made --
                                                      >that's why book fairs like the Oak Knoll Book Fest and the Oxford Fine Press
                                                      >Book Fair are such fun: we get to talk about the books we made last year, to
                                                      >tell you why we made the choices we did, and you get to talk to us about the
                                                      >books, what you like or don't like about them. And isn't it wonderful to see
                                                      >a room full of people making interesting books?
                                                      >
                                                      >And we like to think, like any Private Press worth its salt, that we print
                                                      >whatever takes our fancy. We print poetry -- two of my favourite Incline
                                                      >Press books are slim volumes of poetry, sometimes biography, sometimes a
                                                      >light-hearted something to accompany Burt Eastman's joyous linocuts. To
                                                      >some extent talking about privileging hand made books, or commercial vs
                                                      >noncommercial sub-cultures adds a layer of complication to what, for most of
                                                      >us, is amazingly simple: we like books, and the more bookish they are the
                                                      >better.
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >Kathy Whalen
                                                      >Incline Press
                                                      >36 Bow Street
                                                      >Oldham OL1 1SJ England
                                                      >http://www.inclinepress.com
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                    • lemontreepress@aol.com
                                                      In a message dated 8/15/2005 1:21:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time, kwhalen.incline@VIRGIN.NET writes: And we like to think, like any Private Press worth its salt,
                                                      Message 26 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                                                        In a message dated 8/15/2005 1:21:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
                                                        kwhalen.incline@... writes:

                                                        And we like to think, like any Private Press worth its salt, that we print
                                                        whatever takes our fancy.

                                                        Three cheers for Incline Press! The semantics and philosophical inquiries
                                                        about" why" can drive one to the the shrink! Some of us just love books! It's
                                                        enough for me!
                                                        All best wishes...
                                                        Nancy




                                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                      • alex brooks
                                                        ... That s me, idealist printer... up against a brick wall ... I found this thread from a few months back interesting, if a little academic. Here s a real
                                                        Message 27 of 29 , Feb 9, 2006
                                                          On Aug 12, 2005, at 10:27 PM, Paul W. Romaine wrote:

                                                          > I see a lot of people who print privately coming out these
                                                          > traditions, but without the subsidies or tax-exempt status which
                                                          > their teachers had. Often, they run into the brick wall of what to do
                                                          > about making a living, and then they have to find other jobs as
                                                          > designers, job printers, wedding invitation printers, etc. A lot of
                                                          > idealists here too, and often they'll make a run of it.

                                                          That's me, idealist printer... up against a brick wall ...
                                                          I found this thread from a few months back interesting, if a little
                                                          academic. Here's a real world report: the record of my first
                                                          publication.

                                                          Not my first book, but my first publication, a short book of poems of a
                                                          local author who just happened to be one of my professors when in
                                                          school.

                                                          specs: 12 poems, 24 page, 5 3/4" x 8 1/4", edition of 200. Hand set in
                                                          Plantin type, on hand-made Velke Losiny paper. #1-50 bound in cloth
                                                          (sewn boards binding) #50-150 bound in very nice paper wraps.

                                                          money: I bought the paper at half off, an odd lot that the vendor
                                                          wanted to be rid of. I provided all of the work myself: editing,
                                                          typeset, illustration, printing, binding, marketing & promotions. So i
                                                          didn't have to pay anyone else. I actually turned away help in order to
                                                          insure that everything would be bound in a professional manner. The
                                                          books came out to cost me (including incidentals and wastage) $6ea for
                                                          paper & $12ea cloth. I sell them retail for $30 and $60. Usually I go
                                                          through a book store or other seller so I actually receive $21 and $42
                                                          respectively. That brings the profit to $3,750. I gave up very early on
                                                          counting my hours in the project... probably close to 3,750. From start
                                                          to finish (I still haven't finished all the cloth books) the project
                                                          has taken about 2 years, mainly due to moving, buying a house, working
                                                          at a restaurant, and printing wedding invitations.

                                                          reception: I debuted the book at the Frankfort Book Fair in November.
                                                          At this event writers sit at tables filling a convention center and
                                                          sign their books. Most, almost all of the books were conventional trade
                                                          books. There is one other letterpress printer in the area, very
                                                          established, and he had his own table. I prepared only 40 paperbacks
                                                          for this fair, expecting lax sales - it is, after all, a slim volume
                                                          with a high price point. Instead, the author sold them all. I was
                                                          amazed. I made enough money to buy x-mas presents. But the real reward
                                                          was the joy on the author's face, and the joy she took introducing me
                                                          as her publisher (also the confusion on peoples faces as they struggled
                                                          to understand how this twenty some odd year old kid was a publisher of
                                                          anything). I sold half of the books before x-mas, without any
                                                          advertising or effort at all besides taking them around to book stores.
                                                          I couldn't bind them fast enough. Interest has slowed since christmas,
                                                          but I am positive that the edition will sell out.

                                                          reflections: It is not the best work I have ever done, it is far from
                                                          perfect. I doubt any critic could raise an error or flaw I haven't
                                                          seen. But these are selfish concerns. Right now, there are one-hundred
                                                          people reading poems that would not have been read. This is not an
                                                          amateur poet, she was publishing poems before I was born, yet this book
                                                          that I brought into the world brings her so much joy. And I have heard
                                                          nothing but praise about the whole affair. In Kentucky, in my neck of
                                                          the woods, it's about writers who could not live without writing,
                                                          printers who could not live without printing, and readers who could not
                                                          live without reading. It is a community. And surprisingly, not a single
                                                          person has asked me why that book costs so much.

                                                          interested in looking?
                                                          http://www.press817.com/year%20in%20ky/year.html

                                                          thanks,
                                                          alex
                                                          press eight seventeen
                                                          lexington, kentucky
                                                        • T Howard
                                                          What a fine success story, Alex. Thank you for sharing it. I m learning printing specifically to someday make books, and thus preserve some things that
                                                          Message 28 of 29 , Feb 9, 2006
                                                            What a fine success story, Alex. Thank you for sharing it. I'm learning printing specifically to someday make books, and thus preserve some things that should not be lost. Tales such as this inspire us all to continue the endeavor.

                                                            As to the need to follow different roads to make a living, many years ago I read Robert Frost's "Two Tramps in Mud-time", and adopted a portion of it as a personal creed:

                                                            "But yield who will to their separation,
                                                            My object in living is to unite
                                                            My avocation and my vocation
                                                            as my two eyes make one in sight.

                                                            "For only where love and need are one
                                                            And the Work is play for mortal stakes
                                                            Is the deed ever really done
                                                            For Heaven's and the Future's sakes."
                                                            Robert Frost

                                                            The result has been an ability to fully commit myself to whatever employment I've had, and miraculously, in doing so, opportunities opened within those staid business milieus that have allowed me to express and use all my talent, skill, art, and soul. It's the strangest thing. It really is all about the daily doing, casting the bread we have on the waters we see and being there when the moment comes.

                                                            The book is something to be proud of, and likely the first of many. Your wedding invitations are treasures that some will hand down as heirlooms. And every once in a while, a poem written on a napkin at a cafe table might be worth preserving.

                                                            Tina



                                                            alex brooks <alex@...> wrote:
                                                            On Aug 12, 2005, at 10:27 PM, Paul W. Romaine wrote:

                                                            > I see a lot of people who print privately coming out these
                                                            > traditions, but without the subsidies or tax-exempt status which
                                                            > their teachers had. Often, they run into the brick wall of what to do
                                                            > about making a living, and then they have to find other jobs as
                                                            > designers, job printers, wedding invitation printers, etc. A lot of
                                                            > idealists here too, and often they'll make a run of it.

                                                            That's me, idealist printer... up against a brick wall ...
                                                            I found this thread from a few months back interesting, if a little
                                                            academic. Here's a real world report: the record of my first
                                                            publication.

                                                            Not my first book, but my first publication, a short book of poems of a
                                                            local author who just happened to be one of my professors when in
                                                            school.

                                                            specs: 12 poems, 24 page, 5 3/4" x 8 1/4", edition of 200. Hand set in
                                                            Plantin type, on hand-made Velke Losiny paper. #1-50 bound in cloth
                                                            (sewn boards binding) #50-150 bound in very nice paper wraps.

                                                            money: I bought the paper at half off, an odd lot that the vendor
                                                            wanted to be rid of. I provided all of the work myself: editing,
                                                            typeset, illustration, printing, binding, marketing & promotions. So i
                                                            didn't have to pay anyone else. I actually turned away help in order to
                                                            insure that everything would be bound in a professional manner. The
                                                            books came out to cost me (including incidentals and wastage) $6ea for
                                                            paper & $12ea cloth. I sell them retail for $30 and $60. Usually I go
                                                            through a book store or other seller so I actually receive $21 and $42
                                                            respectively. That brings the profit to $3,750. I gave up very early on
                                                            counting my hours in the project... probably close to 3,750. From start
                                                            to finish (I still haven't finished all the cloth books) the project
                                                            has taken about 2 years, mainly due to moving, buying a house, working
                                                            at a restaurant, and printing wedding invitations.

                                                            reception: I debuted the book at the Frankfort Book Fair in November.
                                                            At this event writers sit at tables filling a convention center and
                                                            sign their books. Most, almost all of the books were conventional trade
                                                            books. There is one other letterpress printer in the area, very
                                                            established, and he had his own table. I prepared only 40 paperbacks
                                                            for this fair, expecting lax sales - it is, after all, a slim volume
                                                            with a high price point. Instead, the author sold them all. I was
                                                            amazed. I made enough money to buy x-mas presents. But the real reward
                                                            was the joy on the author's face, and the joy she took introducing me
                                                            as her publisher (also the confusion on peoples faces as they struggled
                                                            to understand how this twenty some odd year old kid was a publisher of
                                                            anything). I sold half of the books before x-mas, without any
                                                            advertising or effort at all besides taking them around to book stores.
                                                            I couldn't bind them fast enough. Interest has slowed since christmas,
                                                            but I am positive that the edition will sell out.

                                                            reflections: It is not the best work I have ever done, it is far from
                                                            perfect. I doubt any critic could raise an error or flaw I haven't
                                                            seen. But these are selfish concerns. Right now, there are one-hundred
                                                            people reading poems that would not have been read. This is not an
                                                            amateur poet, she was publishing poems before I was born, yet this book
                                                            that I brought into the world brings her so much joy. And I have heard
                                                            nothing but praise about the whole affair. In Kentucky, in my neck of
                                                            the woods, it's about writers who could not live without writing,
                                                            printers who could not live without printing, and readers who could not
                                                            live without reading. It is a community. And surprisingly, not a single
                                                            person has asked me why that book costs so much.

                                                            interested in looking?
                                                            http://www.press817.com/year%20in%20ky/year.html

                                                            thanks,
                                                            alex
                                                            press eight seventeen
                                                            lexington, kentucky






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