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Re: Fine Press Poetry Books

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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 1 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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      I don't print poetry and I don't collect it, although I know some
      printers of it, and some collectors of same. I'm a librarian and an
      academic by training and a printer-wannabe, I suppose. I'm an
      outsider, and in case anyone thinks I might have an iron in the fire,
      let me also note that I'm not much interested in poetry after about
      1800, although I'll grant space to Hopkins or Yeats. (And it's for
      this reason that I refuse to answer a colleague who prints
      contemporary poetry at a college press when he asks if I like
      poetry--well... yes, but just not the last couple centuries or so.)
      Some observations, with many generalizations that should be qualified
      (with your help):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Paul
    • austin
      ... Being a bit of a Curmudgeon myself, I find much of this thread a bit unnerving and undeserving of a comment but the less sane side of me says Ah to hell
      Message 2 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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        Marcia Preston wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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


        --


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



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Scott Rubel
        I agree with you on this. I was only taking issue with the blanket statement that books are meant to be read widely. It depends on the contents of the book,
        Message 3 of 29 , Aug 12, 2005
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          I agree with you on this. I was only taking issue with the blanket
          statement that books are meant to be read widely.

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

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

          ---Scott Rubel

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

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


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jason Dewinetz
          Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting issues for me, and
          Message 4 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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            Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book
            maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting issues for
            me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the gap or split or perhaps
            even binary of content and container. This thread began with a request from
            an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to have d/evolved into a
            trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production, as though such a call
            were necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


            Jason
          • Gerald Lange
            Jason I appreciate your well thought out posts but I m not sure this is such a black or white situation. I have mimeo publications I value more highly than
            Message 5 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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              Jason

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

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

              Gerald


              > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer, publisher, designer, book
              > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring up interesting
              issues for
              > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the gap or split or
              perhaps
              > even binary of content and container. This thread began with a
              request from
              > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to have d/evolved into a
              > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production, as though such a call
              > were necessary.
              >
              > Austin's post was filled with very interesting comments, and I mean that
              > with due respect:
              >
              > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has lessened the value of
              > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last thing we need is more
              books.
              > What we need is a greater
              > appreciation of books. The mass production of anything lessens its
              value.
              > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
              >
              > Each interesting statements, the more interesting when stated
              together. What
              > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here? Cost or investment or
              > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what intrigues me right away
              is any
              > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who is we? And do we
              really?
              > And while the "mass production of anything lessens its value" certainly
              > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic levels, it sets up a value
              > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is great for those who
              have.
              >
              > "When we produce a book using the oldest known method of printing,
              we add
              > value to that book."
              >
              > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is obviously true. But
              > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit narrow. What I think you're
              > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary and feeble idea of
              > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine craftsmanship. Yet how is
              > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of reading a
              Xerox-copied
              > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given moment? I have a few comic
              > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world to me, even if
              they were
              > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating as we speak. I
              also, as
              > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting in the British Library
              > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in 1470 and somehow still
              > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never forget. Both of these are
              > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither of these
              > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
              >
              > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just raised interesting
              > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last post is simply that
              there is
              > no simple binary here between fine press work and mass production;
              there is
              > always a myriad of opportunities and options for anyone wanting to
              produce
              > something that communicates to others, and books are primarily about
              > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a given vessel. The
              goal of
              > producing a well designed and well made container for that content is of
              > course what we're all interested in doing, yet much of this thread
              seems to
              > be implying that the books we are discussing may as well be filled with
              > placeholder text.
              >
              > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden White's writings
              on "the
              > content of form," arguing that the form of any writing speaks as
              clearly as
              > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the form of the
              content has
              > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
              >
              >
              > Jason
            • Michael Andrews
              Gerald I have to agree with you about value residing in something other than financial worth. Like you, I have strong leanings toward content, and like you,
              Message 6 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                Gerald

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

                Isn't primitivism another word for dinosaur?

                Jason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Michael




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

                > Jason
                >
                > I appreciate your well thought out posts but I'm not
                > sure this is such
                > a black or white situation. I have mimeo
                > publications I value more
                > highly than many of the fine press books I own. I
                > doubt most folks
                > collect fine press books simply because they are
                > fine press books, but
                > rather that they represent something that is
                > different from the
                > mainstream. I like pretty much anything that is a
                > bit off,
                > alternative, but not in the accepted thinking of
                > that, so most of it
                > is worthless in a financial sense, but has
                > incredible value in other
                > ways, and this does not have anything to do with
                > craftsmanship nor the
                > empty filling of an accepted form.
                >
                > Quite frankly I suspect everything that is being
                > done, that is outside
                > of the mainstream, is primitivism, and this
                > literally includes all of
                > contemporary letterpress, and god bless it.
                >
                > Gerald
                >
                >
                > > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer,
                > publisher, designer, book
                > > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring
                > up interesting
                > issues for
                > > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the
                > gap or split or
                > perhaps
                > > even binary of content and container. This thread
                > began with a
                > request from
                > > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to
                > have d/evolved into a
                > > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production,
                > as though such a call
                > > were necessary.
                > >
                > > Austin's post was filled with very interesting
                > comments, and I mean that
                > > with due respect:
                > >
                > > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has
                > lessened the value of
                > > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last
                > thing we need is more
                > books.
                > > What we need is a greater
                > > appreciation of books. The mass production of
                > anything lessens its
                > value.
                > > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
                > >
                > > Each interesting statements, the more interesting
                > when stated
                > together. What
                > > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here?
                > Cost or investment or
                > > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what
                > intrigues me right away
                > is any
                > > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who
                > is we? And do we
                > really?
                > > And while the "mass production of anything lessens
                > its value" certainly
                > > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic
                > levels, it sets up a value
                > > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is
                > great for those who
                > have.
                > >
                > > "When we produce a book using the oldest known
                > method of printing,
                > we add
                > > value to that book."
                > >
                > > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is
                > obviously true. But
                > > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit
                > narrow. What I think you're
                > > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary
                > and feeble idea of
                > > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine
                > craftsmanship. Yet how is
                > > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of
                > reading a
                > Xerox-copied
                > > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given
                > moment? I have a few comic
                > > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world
                > to me, even if
                > they were
                > > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating
                > as we speak. I
                > also, as
                > > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting
                > in the British Library
                > > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in
                > 1470 and somehow still
                > > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never
                > forget. Both of these are
                > > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither
                > of these
                > > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
                > >
                > > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just
                > raised interesting
                > > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last
                > post is simply that
                > there is
                > > no simple binary here between fine press work and
                > mass production;
                > there is
                > > always a myriad of opportunities and options for
                > anyone wanting to
                > produce
                > > something that communicates to others, and books
                > are primarily about
                > > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a
                > given vessel. The
                > goal of
                > > producing a well designed and well made container
                > for that content is of
                > > course what we're all interested in doing, yet
                > much of this thread
                > seems to
                > > be implying that the books we are discussing may
                > as well be filled with
                > > placeholder text.
                > >
                > > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden
                > White's writings
                > on "the
                > > content of form," arguing that the form of any
                > writing speaks as
                > clearly as
                > > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the
                > form of the
                > content has
                > > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
                > >
                > >
                > > Jason
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
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                > --------------------~-->
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                >
                href="http://us.ard.yahoo.com/SIG=12h5u7frf/M=362335.6886444.7839734.2575449/D=groups/S=1706389862:TM/Y=YAHOO/EXP=1123930279/A=2894362/R=0/SIG=138c78jl6/*http://www.networkforgood.org/topics/arts_culture/?source=YAHOO&cmpgn=GRP&RTP=http://groups.yahoo.com/">What
                > would our lives be like without music, dance, and
                > theater?Donate or volunteer in the arts today at
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                >
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                >
                >
                > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >


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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 7 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 8 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I woke this morning wondering if I'd perhaps shoved my foot down my throat
                    with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and
                    appreciate that I've finally ventured into this forum rather than continuing
                    to lurk in the background.

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

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

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

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

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

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


                    Jason
                  • Gerald Lange
                    Michael Next time you are at the newstand buy yourself a copy of Raw Vision: the international journal of intuitive and visionary art [outsider art/art
                    Message 9 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      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 10 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                        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 11 of 29 , Aug 14, 2005
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Lurker lured from the shadows here - I just had to add my two cents.
                          I'm another member of that sub-culture of readers that are mentioned
                          below. In fact I even belong to the sub-culture of those with 'Book
                          Lust'. Looking at a beautifully crafted book with leather and
                          hand-marbled covers and hand-marbled endpages gives me a thrill! I want
                          to hold (and own) them all! I love the feel, the look, the texture -
                          and yes the smell - of a good handsewn book!
                          While I enjoy some of the content of books out there in the
                          mass-produced world, for me there is no comparison to a book with
                          wonderful content AND beautiful craftsmanship! That is truely a book of
                          beauty and something to enjoy!
                          I think life has to be about more than fast food, cheap knock-offs and
                          thrown together bric-a-brac.
                          Where's the beauty? Where's the love? Where's the fireside, a
                          well-made book and a good wine?
                          That's where I'll be!
                          Keep it up all ye makers of beauty!!!!!
                          Sue Clancy

                          Jason Dewinetz wrote:

                          >I woke this morning wondering if I'd perhaps shoved my foot down my throat
                          >with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and
                          >appreciate that I've finally ventured into this forum rather than continuing
                          >to lurk in the background.
                          >
                          >I certainly didn't mean to privilege the "commercial" value of anything, I
                          >was instead speaking to the same comment Gerald made, that "this is not so
                          >much a black and white situation." Exactly the point. I've just finished
                          >hosting this year's Greenboathouse Reading Series and part of what I love
                          >about putting on this event is the enjoyment and appreciation I see on the
                          >faces of the audience as they browse the display of books during our
                          >intermissions. Many of these are our chapbooks that are out of print and
                          >unavailable, and thus these sorts of events are the only time I get to see
                          >people interacting with the books, picking them up, turning them over,
                          >running fingers across the cover stock, and even, indeed, taking a sniff.
                          >It's wonderful. Wonderful both because I half-broke my back craning to sew
                          >them together, and because of the pleasure others seems to take in the
                          >books.
                          >
                          >Michael wrote: "There are a number of small sub-cultures that do read; but
                          >they no longer represent the majority of the population and more to the
                          >point have less and less impact on the direction, quality and actions of the
                          >culture at large."
                          >
                          >And I suppose I have to acknowledge that I'm lodged in one of those
                          >sub-cultures, comprised of a small readership ranging in age from 15-80 who
                          >are avid readers of poetry and drawn to an attractively produced book both
                          >in terms of design (typography) and production (materials, binding, etc.). I
                          >forget, often, that I'm lucky to have found such a readership that allows me
                          >to keep Greenboathouse up and running. I forget, also, that most might
                          >expect such an enterprise to bring in some form of personal income. This has
                          >never been a goal for me. In fact, I've often thought attempting such a
                          >"business" would immediately remove the pleasure from the equation, so I'm
                          >quite happy to write-off my losses at the end of each year and continue
                          >sewing in the evenings for my own sense of enjoyment and calm.
                          >
                          >Perhaps that was my point. Not to promote this or that, or to impose an
                          >appreciation of anything on "the masses," but to appreciate the opportunity
                          >to do what I do. And I do.
                          >
                          >Perhaps the world is going to hell in an empty book-bag, perhaps that's sad,
                          >but I'm reluctant to think that I know what's good for the world, and often
                          >leery of others who think they might know.
                          >
                          >That said, and as said in the last few posts, from my subjective,
                          >self-important position, god bless each of you who make beautiful books. Yet
                          >there's no real need for such a blessing. The blessing is in the setting,
                          >and binding, and scoring, and sewing...
                          >
                          >
                          >Jason
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >Yahoo! Groups Links
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                        • Kathleen Whalen
                          Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your love of
                          Message 12 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
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                            Thanks Sue, and you too, Marcia. Despite all the conversation, I think that
                            lots of us (ok, maybe just Graham and I) make books because we share your
                            love of nice paper, the look of the ink on the paper (and on the press for
                            that matter!), the thrill of seeing that if you just shift that title two
                            ems to the left, drop the address or add another line to the border you've
                            created a cracking title page, not to mention the sheer satisfaction of
                            planning, printing, collating and binding a book -- A BOOK!

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

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


                            Kathy Whalen
                            Incline Press
                            36 Bow Street
                            Oldham OL1 1SJ England
                            http://www.inclinepress.com
                          • Sue Clancy
                            Oh Yes! I totally understand printing because you can t help yourself! When I was a kid - about 4 or 5 - I made my first book. I d gotten into my
                            Message 13 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                            • 0 Attachment
                              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 14 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
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                                In a message dated 8/15/2005 1:21:08 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
                                kwhalen.incline@... writes:

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

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




                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • alex brooks
                                ... That s me, idealist printer... up against a brick wall ... I found this thread from a few months back interesting, if a little academic. Here s a real
                                Message 15 of 29 , Feb 9, 2006
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  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 16 of 29 , Feb 9, 2006
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    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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