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RE: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books

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  • 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 1 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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      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 2 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        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 3 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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          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 4 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            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
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
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            >
            >
            >




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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 5 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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              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 6 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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                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 7 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 8 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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                    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 9 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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                      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 10 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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                        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 11 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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                          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 12 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                            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 13 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                              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 14 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                                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
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
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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 15 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                                  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 16 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    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 17 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                                      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 18 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        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 19 of 29 , Aug 14, 2005
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          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 20 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
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                                            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 21 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
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                                              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
                                              >
                                              >
                                              >
                                              >
                                              >
                                              >
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                                              >
                                              >
                                              >
                                            • 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 22 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
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                                                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 23 of 29 , Feb 9 6:30 PM
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                                                  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 24 of 29 , Feb 9 8:19 PM
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                                                    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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