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Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


      Jason Dewinetz


      _______________________________________

      Jason Dewinetz
      Editor & Designer
      Greenboathouse Books

      www.greenboathouse.com











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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Keep printing

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

      michael





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

      > Recently received under the subject heading "your
      > poetry books" was
      > the following email message:
      >
      > "What is BielerPress; and why are the books so
      > expensive? If you don't
      > mind me asking. Is it possible of me to sumit?"
      >
      > I'd be interested in knowing how other members who
      > produce fine press
      > poetry books would respond to a similar request. Or
      > even how those who
      > do not think about this.
      >
      >
      > I should probably annotate this with a couple of
      > points:
      >
      > I have been involved with fine press production for
      > 30 years now and
      > have not issued a poetry book since the early 1990s.
      >
      >
      > I should also suggest that the fine press field is
      > no longer what it
      > was in the earlier years of the last quarter of the
      > 20th century and
      > that my own concerns in this regard are confused, as
      > they were with
      > the influx of the artist's book phenomenon in the
      > mid 1980s, and again
      > with the deconstructionist approach to typography in
      > the early to mid
      > 1990s.
      >
      > The current letterpress bubble seems primarily
      > driven by invitational
      > card printing and most new entrants to the field are
      > not drawn to the
      > concerns of the fine press, nor the amateur press.
      >
      > Most of my current work is in supplemental
      > assistance (typography,
      > platemaking, etc) with invitational card printers
      > and I have a pretty
      > good sense of cost and charges and expenses and
      > labor involved. In
      > relation to book work, the labor and associated
      > costs for cardwork are
      > minimal but the final charges to the clients are
      > somewhat
      > out-of-sight. I'm quite aware the landscape has
      > changed significantly.
      > Neither the fine press book nor the artist book have
      > anywhere near the
      > draw they once had. Things change and are expected
      > to, and they will
      > again.
      >
      >
      > So. . . basically I'm surprised anyone would even
      > inquire about what I
      > consider older generational activity.
      >
      >
      > Gerald
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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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 2 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
        I take a group of design students to London each summer for five
        weeks. One of the wonderful things we did this summer was to visit
        the Oxford University Press and the museum there. The archivist
        brought out a number of interesting things to share with my students.

        One was a book published for one.

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

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

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

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

        Ray Nichols
      • Gerald Lange
        Thanks to all for the advice and for providing a very engaging thread. In regard to small press publishing and poetry I should perhaps mention that my interest
        Message 3 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
          Thanks to all for the advice and for providing a very engaging thread.

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

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

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

          Thanks all

          Gerald

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

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

            Marcia Preston


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


            Gerald

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


            RE: [PPLetterpress] letterpress and the market

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Ludwig





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          • 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 5 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
              Sorry also.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Whatever.

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

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

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

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

              hats off

              michael




              --- typetom@... wrote:

              > Sorry Michael, I do appreciate Ludwig's comments and
              > easily agree with his
              > perspective more than with yours. Thorough and
              > precise writing is not, as you
              > say, purple prose. You claim to be a poet and an
              > editor. But then you say you
              > don't find mush interest in the younger generations.
              > That's a poetic turn of
              > the language, even if only an editing problem!
              >
              > You say you do not reply to such queries as Gerald
              > described. That's really
              > no answer at all. Certainly it is not the answer of
              > an editor. Why bother,
              > given the percentages, what use is it any way, we're
              > all gonna die. Your
              > approach, in fact, is self-indulgent. You publish as
              > an extension of your own
              > internal need, not as an effort to bring other's
              > work (edit, publish) to an
              > audience (readers) outside your self. David Godine
              > has described this effort as
              > privatishing, not publishing -- don't really care
              > about the public, about
              > extending connections between authors and readers,
              > just care about one's own
              > expression/validity/poetry/artiness.
              >
              > Seems to me that's a private press, at best a noble
              > stand against the decay
              > of the world around, but at it's core just a vanity
              > press, with very little
              > effort made to interact with that world.
              >
              > I don't feel like a dinosaur. I don't print or
              > publish for rare book
              > collectors, to be preserved behind glass for a
              > future whose language and concerns
              > will regard everything today as quaint and archaic.
              > I use my press, and
              > whatever talents I might have for expression and
              > design, to meddle with the possible
              > present. Nice if some of this work is preserved and
              > grows in value, but that
              > is not the point of it. Art has to be handled and
              > felt; it cannot live in a
              > vault. The work of a publisher is to put writing in
              > the hands of readers. That
              > means fingerprints. Art is most vital when we have
              > to live with it, carry it
              > around with us and within us, use it up, wear it
              > out in fact, so new art
              > becomes necessary.
              >
              > What I do, what I have done many times, is invite
              > this naive hopeless poet
              > to come visit my printshop, to take a look at the
              > process, to see my poetry
              > library of thousands of other small poetic voices on
              > the shelves, to see what a
              > line of handset type looks like, what pied type and
              > type with dented serifs
              > looks like, which face, what size, what images,
              > which paper, what color ink
              > and how much, what possible kind of binding. And
              > then we might talk about what
              > he would do with the book if he had a small pile of
              > them in hand, who is it
              > for? how many does he really need? what will be done
              > with them?
              >
              > So I might offer to print him a cover for his book,
              > if he can find some way,
              > inkjet or laser or offset or if he gets a press
              > himself, to make the
              > contents, then I'll show him how to sew and glue it
              > together, and then we can talk
              > about whether there is enough poetry and small press
              > activity for a reading or
              > a book party or a bookfair perhaps.
              >
              > What I'm saying is we survive and grow by opening
              > rather than closing. Lead
              > type and the old printing equipment wear out as it
              > is used. But it is only by
              > using it that it is preserved -- that someone sees
              > how it is done and in
              > fact knows enough about the process to take care of
              > the valuable stuff when the
              > garbage truck is on the corner. (This may be a
              > dynamic process I experience
              > more with handset type than with digital
              > photopolymer work where we have given
              > up the physical connection with the past -- another
              > extended philosophical
              > discussion I better let slide so I can get back to
              > printing this morning...).
              >
              > Gerald, if you are pessimist about small press
              > poetry publishing today, I'd
              > suggest it is what you make it. I trade off some
              > important part of my time
              > and energy printing wedding invitations and doing
              > job work, yes. But I hope to
              > have in mind the connections to the world that
              > informed the fine art of Ben
              > Franklin, and Devinne, and Updike as they worked.
              > It's a balancing act.
              >
              > I could name many presses and
              > printer/editor/publishers who are carrying on
              > in fine style. Maybe one? Consider Paul Hunter's
              > Wood Works Press in Seattle
              > (_www.woodworkspress.com_
              > (http://www.woodworkspress.com) ). He has handset
              > and printed 25 books in recent years. Plus dozens of
              > broadsides. He has worked
              > to build an audience for contemporary writers,
              > edited harshly with critical
              > support, designed with type and image and format to
              > hold the specific writing
              > of each work. Every piece includes his remarkable
              > woodblock prints and the
              > personal endorsement of his letterpress efforts as
              > it is offered out to
              > possible readers. I am honored that he took my own
              > uncertain book from me and
              > crafted and gave it back so the poems are now out
              > in the world apart from me yet
              > available for me to use further. I doubt better
              > editing and printing and
              > publishing was ever more possible than now. We need
              > it!
              >
              > Enough said.
              > Best wishes, Tom
              >
              > Tom Parson
              > Now It's Up To You Publications
              > 157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
              > (303) 777-8951
              > http://members.aol.com/typetom
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been
              > removed]
              >
              >
              >
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            • Paul W. Romaine
              I don t print poetry and I don t collect it, although I know some printers of it, and some collectors of same. I m a librarian and an academic by training and
              Message 6 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                I don't print poetry and I don't collect it, although I know some
                printers of it, and some collectors of same. I'm a librarian and an
                academic by training and a printer-wannabe, I suppose. I'm an
                outsider, and in case anyone thinks I might have an iron in the fire,
                let me also note that I'm not much interested in poetry after about
                1800, although I'll grant space to Hopkins or Yeats. (And it's for
                this reason that I refuse to answer a colleague who prints
                contemporary poetry at a college press when he asks if I like
                poetry--well... yes, but just not the last couple centuries or so.)
                Some observations, with many generalizations that should be qualified
                (with your help):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Paul
              • austin
                ... Being a bit of a Curmudgeon myself, I find much of this thread a bit unnerving and undeserving of a comment but the less sane side of me says Ah to hell
                Message 7 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                  Marcia Preston wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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


                  --


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



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Scott Rubel
                  I agree with you on this. I was only taking issue with the blanket statement that books are meant to be read widely. It depends on the contents of the book,
                  Message 8 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
                    I agree with you on this. I was only taking issue with the blanket
                    statement that books are meant to be read widely.

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

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

                    ---Scott Rubel

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

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


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Jason Dewinetz
                    Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting issues for me, and
                    Message 9 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                      Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book
                      maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting issues for
                      me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the gap or split or perhaps
                      even binary of content and container. This thread began with a request from
                      an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to have d/evolved into a
                      trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production, as though such a call
                      were necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                      Jason
                    • Gerald Lange
                      Jason I appreciate your well thought out posts but I m not sure this is such a black or white situation. I have mimeo publications I value more highly than
                      Message 10 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                        Jason

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

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

                        Gerald


                        > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book
                        > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting
                        issues for
                        > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the gap or split or
                        perhaps
                        > even binary of content and container. This thread began with a
                        request from
                        > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to have d/evolved into a
                        > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production, as though such a call
                        > were necessary.
                        >
                        > Austin's post was filled with very interesting comments, and I mean that
                        > with due respect:
                        >
                        > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has lessened the value of
                        > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last thing we need is more
                        books.
                        > What we need is a greater
                        > appreciation of books. The mass production of anything lessens its
                        value.
                        > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
                        >
                        > Each interesting statements, the more interesting when stated
                        together. What
                        > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here? Cost or investment or
                        > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what intrigues me right away
                        is any
                        > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who is we? And do we
                        really?
                        > And while the "mass production of anything lessens its value" certainly
                        > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic levels, it sets up a value
                        > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is great for those who
                        have.
                        >
                        > "When we produce a book using the oldest known method of printing,
                        we add
                        > value to that book."
                        >
                        > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is obviously true. But
                        > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit narrow. What I think you're
                        > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary and feeble idea of
                        > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine craftsmanship. Yet how is
                        > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of reading a
                        Xerox-copied
                        > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given moment? I have a few comic
                        > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world to me, even if
                        they were
                        > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating as we speak. I
                        also, as
                        > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting in the British Library
                        > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in 1470 and somehow still
                        > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never forget. Both of these are
                        > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither of these
                        > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
                        >
                        > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just raised interesting
                        > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last post is simply that
                        there is
                        > no simple binary here between fine press work and mass production;
                        there is
                        > always a myriad of opportunities and options for anyone wanting to
                        produce
                        > something that communicates to others, and books are primarily about
                        > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a given vessel. The
                        goal of
                        > producing a well designed and well made container for that content is of
                        > course what we're all interested in doing, yet much of this thread
                        seems to
                        > be implying that the books we are discussing may as well be filled with
                        > placeholder text.
                        >
                        > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden White's writings
                        on "the
                        > content of form," arguing that the form of any writing speaks as
                        clearly as
                        > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the form of the
                        content has
                        > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
                        >
                        >
                        > Jason
                      • Michael Andrews
                        Gerald I have to agree with you about value residing in something other than financial worth. Like you, I have strong leanings toward content, and like you,
                        Message 11 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                          Gerald

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

                          Isn't primitivism another word for dinosaur?

                          Jason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                          Michael




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

                          > Jason
                          >
                          > I appreciate your well thought out posts but I'm not
                          > sure this is such
                          > a black or white situation. I have mimeo
                          > publications I value more
                          > highly than many of the fine press books I own. I
                          > doubt most folks
                          > collect fine press books simply because they are
                          > fine press books, but
                          > rather that they represent something that is
                          > different from the
                          > mainstream. I like pretty much anything that is a
                          > bit off,
                          > alternative, but not in the accepted thinking of
                          > that, so most of it
                          > is worthless in a financial sense, but has
                          > incredible value in other
                          > ways, and this does not have anything to do with
                          > craftsmanship nor the
                          > empty filling of an accepted form.
                          >
                          > Quite frankly I suspect everything that is being
                          > done, that is outside
                          > of the mainstream, is primitivism, and this
                          > literally includes all of
                          > contemporary letterpress, and god bless it.
                          >
                          > Gerald
                          >
                          >
                          > > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer,
                          > publisher, designer, book
                          > > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring
                          > up interesting
                          > issues for
                          > > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the
                          > gap or split or
                          > perhaps
                          > > even binary of content and container. This thread
                          > began with a
                          > request from
                          > > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to
                          > have d/evolved into a
                          > > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production,
                          > as though such a call
                          > > were necessary.
                          > >
                          > > Austin's post was filled with very interesting
                          > comments, and I mean that
                          > > with due respect:
                          > >
                          > > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has
                          > lessened the value of
                          > > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last
                          > thing we need is more
                          > books.
                          > > What we need is a greater
                          > > appreciation of books. The mass production of
                          > anything lessens its
                          > value.
                          > > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
                          > >
                          > > Each interesting statements, the more interesting
                          > when stated
                          > together. What
                          > > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here?
                          > Cost or investment or
                          > > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what
                          > intrigues me right away
                          > is any
                          > > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who
                          > is we? And do we
                          > really?
                          > > And while the "mass production of anything lessens
                          > its value" certainly
                          > > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic
                          > levels, it sets up a value
                          > > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is
                          > great for those who
                          > have.
                          > >
                          > > "When we produce a book using the oldest known
                          > method of printing,
                          > we add
                          > > value to that book."
                          > >
                          > > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is
                          > obviously true. But
                          > > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit
                          > narrow. What I think you're
                          > > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary
                          > and feeble idea of
                          > > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine
                          > craftsmanship. Yet how is
                          > > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of
                          > reading a
                          > Xerox-copied
                          > > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given
                          > moment? I have a few comic
                          > > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world
                          > to me, even if
                          > they were
                          > > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating
                          > as we speak. I
                          > also, as
                          > > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting
                          > in the British Library
                          > > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in
                          > 1470 and somehow still
                          > > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never
                          > forget. Both of these are
                          > > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither
                          > of these
                          > > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
                          > >
                          > > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just
                          > raised interesting
                          > > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last
                          > post is simply that
                          > there is
                          > > no simple binary here between fine press work and
                          > mass production;
                          > there is
                          > > always a myriad of opportunities and options for
                          > anyone wanting to
                          > produce
                          > > something that communicates to others, and books
                          > are primarily about
                          > > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a
                          > given vessel. The
                          > goal of
                          > > producing a well designed and well made container
                          > for that content is of
                          > > course what we're all interested in doing, yet
                          > much of this thread
                          > seems to
                          > > be implying that the books we are discussing may
                          > as well be filled with
                          > > placeholder text.
                          > >
                          > > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden
                          > White's writings
                          > on "the
                          > > content of form," arguing that the form of any
                          > writing speaks as
                          > clearly as
                          > > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the
                          > form of the
                          > content has
                          > > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > Jason
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
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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 12 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                            Jason Dewinetz wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            tks

                            --


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                              Jason
                            • Gerald Lange
                              Michael Next time you are at the newstand buy yourself a copy of Raw Vision: the international journal of intuitive and visionary art [outsider art/art
                              Message 14 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                Michael

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

                                Gerald



                                >
                                > Gerald
                                >
                                . . .
                                >
                                > Isn't primitivism another word for dinosaur?
                                >
                                . . .
                                >
                                > Michael
                              • Gerald Lange
                                Going way back to the front of the thread: I find this on Google, an article from Coda, the journal of Poets & Writers (Michael mentioned the org), How to get
                                Message 15 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                                  Going way back to the front of the thread:

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

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

                                  Gerald
                                • Sue Clancy
                                  Lurker lured from the shadows here - I just had to add my two cents. I m another member of that sub-culture of readers that are mentioned below. In fact I
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Aug 14, 2005
                                    Lurker lured from the shadows here - I just had to add my two cents.
                                    I'm another member of that sub-culture of readers that are mentioned
                                    below. In fact I even belong to the sub-culture of those with 'Book
                                    Lust'. Looking at a beautifully crafted book with leather and
                                    hand-marbled covers and hand-marbled endpages gives me a thrill! I want
                                    to hold (and own) them all! I love the feel, the look, the texture -
                                    and yes the smell - of a good handsewn book!
                                    While I enjoy some of the content of books out there in the
                                    mass-produced world, for me there is no comparison to a book with
                                    wonderful content AND beautiful craftsmanship! That is truely a book of
                                    beauty and something to enjoy!
                                    I think life has to be about more than fast food, cheap knock-offs and
                                    thrown together bric-a-brac.
                                    Where's the beauty? Where's the love? Where's the fireside, a
                                    well-made book and a good wine?
                                    That's where I'll be!
                                    Keep it up all ye makers of beauty!!!!!
                                    Sue Clancy

                                    Jason Dewinetz wrote:

                                    >I woke this morning wondering if I'd perhaps shoved my foot down my throat
                                    >with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and
                                    >appreciate that I've finally ventured into this forum rather than continuing
                                    >to lurk in the background.
                                    >
                                    >I certainly didn't mean to privilege the "commercial" value of anything, I
                                    >was instead speaking to the same comment Gerald made, that "this is not so
                                    >much a black and white situation." Exactly the point. I've just finished
                                    >hosting this year's Greenboathouse Reading Series and part of what I love
                                    >about putting on this event is the enjoyment and appreciation I see on the
                                    >faces of the audience as they browse the display of books during our
                                    >intermissions. Many of these are our chapbooks that are out of print and
                                    >unavailable, and thus these sorts of events are the only time I get to see
                                    >people interacting with the books, picking them up, turning them over,
                                    >running fingers across the cover stock, and even, indeed, taking a sniff.
                                    >It's wonderful. Wonderful both because I half-broke my back craning to sew
                                    >them together, and because of the pleasure others seems to take in the
                                    >books.
                                    >
                                    >Michael wrote: "There are a number of small sub-cultures that do read; but
                                    >they no longer represent the majority of the population and more to the
                                    >point have less and less impact on the direction, quality and actions of the
                                    >culture at large."
                                    >
                                    >And I suppose I have to acknowledge that I'm lodged in one of those
                                    >sub-cultures, comprised of a small readership ranging in age from 15-80 who
                                    >are avid readers of poetry and drawn to an attractively produced book both
                                    >in terms of design (typography) and production (materials, binding, etc.). I
                                    >forget, often, that I'm lucky to have found such a readership that allows me
                                    >to keep Greenboathouse up and running. I forget, also, that most might
                                    >expect such an enterprise to bring in some form of personal income. This has
                                    >never been a goal for me. In fact, I've often thought attempting such a
                                    >"business" would immediately remove the pleasure from the equation, so I'm
                                    >quite happy to write-off my losses at the end of each year and continue
                                    >sewing in the evenings for my own sense of enjoyment and calm.
                                    >
                                    >Perhaps that was my point. Not to promote this or that, or to impose an
                                    >appreciation of anything on "the masses," but to appreciate the opportunity
                                    >to do what I do. And I do.
                                    >
                                    >Perhaps the world is going to hell in an empty book-bag, perhaps that's sad,
                                    >but I'm reluctant to think that I know what's good for the world, and often
                                    >leery of others who think they might know.
                                    >
                                    >That said, and as said in the last few posts, from my subjective,
                                    >self-important position, god bless each of you who make beautiful books. Yet
                                    >there's no real need for such a blessing. The blessing is in the setting,
                                    >and binding, and scoring, and sewing...
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >Jason
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                  • Kathleen Whalen
                                    Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your love of
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                                      Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that
                                      lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your
                                      love of nice paper, the look of the ink on the paper (and on the press for
                                      that matter!), the thrill of seeing that if you just shift that title two
                                      ems to the left, drop the address or add another line to the border you've
                                      created a cracking title page, not to mention the sheer satisfaction of
                                      planning, printing, collating and binding a book -- A BOOK!

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

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


                                      Kathy Whalen
                                      Incline Press
                                      36 Bow Street
                                      Oldham OL1 1SJ England
                                      http://www.inclinepress.com
                                    • Sue Clancy
                                      Oh Yes! I totally understand printing because you can t help yourself! When I was a kid - about 4 or 5 - I made my first book. I d gotten into my
                                      Message 18 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                                        Oh Yes! I totally understand printing because you can't help yourself!
                                        When I was a kid - about 4 or 5 - I made my first book. I'd gotten
                                        into my grandmothers ink pads and discovered 'printing'!!!! (Grandma
                                        was a librarian - and this was back in the day when librarians 'stamped'
                                        books as checked out/returned) I remember that I found some paper (and
                                        the walls) and 'printed' my hand over and over on lots of pages and made
                                        a book!
                                        Of course now I create block-prints and pen/brush & ink illustrations
                                        for my books and sew them by hand - and I make handmarbled papers - but
                                        I think I caught the 'book - bug' early and I never want to be
                                        cured!!!!!!!!!! <grin>
                                        Yes I agree - Commercial/non commercial - it hardly makes a difference
                                        when you love books. In some ways I'm of two minds. On the one hand I
                                        appreciate the 'commercial' book world for having put out books on every
                                        imaginable subject and made them widely/easily available and affordable.
                                        Yet on the other hand I feel that the book needs to be well crafted as I
                                        am frustrated by the commercial books that fall apart on the first
                                        reading because they weren't well made in the first place.
                                        So I have this question - at what point does the 'mass production' of
                                        books begin to be too ubiquitous - like McDonalds - and cease to have
                                        flavor or value. At what point does the hiqh quality craftmanship begin
                                        to be too exclusive and the content not available to a large enough
                                        audience?
                                        Or does it matter?
                                        Kathy and Graham - I'll have to look at your website!!! What
                                        fun!!!!!!!! Fun conversation too!
                                        Sue Clancy

                                        Kathleen Whalen wrote:

                                        >Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that
                                        >lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your
                                        >love of nice paper, the look of the ink on the paper (and on the press for
                                        >that matter!), the thrill of seeing that if you just shift that title two
                                        >ems to the left, drop the address or add another line to the border you've
                                        >created a cracking title page, not to mention the sheer satisfaction of
                                        >planning, printing, collating and binding a book -- A BOOK!
                                        >
                                        >Graham prints because he can't help himself, because he loves it. We think
                                        >our books are good; we enjoy reading them; we enjoy the illustrations; we
                                        >enjoy making them, and we delight in looking at them after they are made --
                                        >that's why book fairs like the Oak Knoll Book Fest and the Oxford Fine Press
                                        >Book Fair are such fun: we get to talk about the books we made last year, to
                                        >tell you why we made the choices we did, and you get to talk to us about the
                                        >books, what you like or don't like about them. And isn't it wonderful to see
                                        >a room full of people making interesting books?
                                        >
                                        >And we like to think, like any Private Press worth its salt, that we print
                                        >whatever takes our fancy. We print poetry -- two of my favourite Incline
                                        >Press books are slim volumes of poetry, sometimes biography, sometimes a
                                        >light-hearted something to accompany Burt Eastman's joyous linocuts. To
                                        >some extent talking about privileging hand made books, or commercial vs
                                        >noncommercial sub-cultures adds a layer of complication to what, for most of
                                        >us, is amazingly simple: we like books, and the more bookish they are the
                                        >better.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >Kathy Whalen
                                        >Incline Press
                                        >36 Bow Street
                                        >Oldham OL1 1SJ England
                                        >http://www.inclinepress.com
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                      • lemontreepress@aol.com
                                        In a message dated 8/15/2005 1:21:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time, kwhalen.incline@VIRGIN.NET writes: And we like to think, like any Private Press worth its salt,
                                        Message 19 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                                          In a message dated 8/15/2005 1:21:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
                                          kwhalen.incline@... writes:

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

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




                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • alex brooks
                                          ... That s me, idealist printer... up against a brick wall ... I found this thread from a few months back interesting, if a little academic. Here s a real
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Feb 9, 2006
                                            On Aug 12, 2005, at 10:27 PM, Paul W. Romaine wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                            thanks,
                                            alex
                                            press eight seventeen
                                            lexington, kentucky
                                          • T Howard
                                            What a fine success story, Alex. Thank you for sharing it. I m learning printing specifically to someday make books, and thus preserve some things that
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Feb 9, 2006
                                              What a fine success story, Alex. Thank you for sharing it. I'm learning printing specifically to someday make books, and thus preserve some things that should not be lost. Tales such as this inspire us all to continue the endeavor.

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

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

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

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

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

                                              Tina



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              thanks,
                                              alex
                                              press eight seventeen
                                              lexington, kentucky






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