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Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books

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  • 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 1 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
      Please don't call me a "wealthy bourgeois bibliophile." There are wonderful
      books being produced today by private presses, and I buy many because I
      deeply appreciate the devoted effort which has gone into the making of them.
      I enjoy the texts, the illustrations and the beauty of their design and
      materials. I especially delight in sharing them with others and acquainting
      them with this kind of book, most of whom have not known of them. They do
      not sit on my shelves unused or unread.

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

      Marcia Preston


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


      Gerald

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


      RE: [PPLetterpress] letterpress and the market

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Ludwig





      Yahoo! Groups Links
    • Michael Andrews
      Sorry also. But I thought the question was about poetry, not fine print. Poets & Writers has a data base of about 3 million poets, anyway a lot, and these are
      Message 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 17 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 18 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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