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Re: [PPLetterpress] Fine Press Poetry Books

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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              Gerald

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

              Isn't primitivism another word for dinosaur?

              Jason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Michael




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

              > Jason
              >
              > I appreciate your well thought out posts but I'm not
              > sure this is such
              > a black or white situation. I have mimeo
              > publications I value more
              > highly than many of the fine press books I own. I
              > doubt most folks
              > collect fine press books simply because they are
              > fine press books, but
              > rather that they represent something that is
              > different from the
              > mainstream. I like pretty much anything that is a
              > bit off,
              > alternative, but not in the accepted thinking of
              > that, so most of it
              > is worthless in a financial sense, but has
              > incredible value in other
              > ways, and this does not have anything to do with
              > craftsmanship nor the
              > empty filling of an accepted form.
              >
              > Quite frankly I suspect everything that is being
              > done, that is outside
              > of the mainstream, is primitivism, and this
              > literally includes all of
              > contemporary letterpress, and god bless it.
              >
              > Gerald
              >
              >
              > > Speaking from a few positions (reader, writer,
              > publisher, designer, book
              > > maker, book lover) this thread continues to bring
              > up interesting
              > issues for
              > > me, and the one I'm struck by at the moment is the
              > gap or split or
              > perhaps
              > > even binary of content and container. This thread
              > began with a
              > request from
              > > an author to a printer/publisher, but seems to
              > have d/evolved into a
              > > trumpet-call to the arms of fine press production,
              > as though such a call
              > > were necessary.
              > >
              > > Austin's post was filled with very interesting
              > comments, and I mean that
              > > with due respect:
              > >
              > > "The ability to put words on paper so easily has
              > lessened the value of
              > > books in the eyes of the mass public. The last
              > thing we need is more
              > books.
              > > What we need is a greater
              > > appreciation of books. The mass production of
              > anything lessens its
              > value.
              > > This holds true for books or mouse traps."
              > >
              > > Each interesting statements, the more interesting
              > when stated
              > together. What
              > > kind of value, I wonder, is being questioned here?
              > Cost or investment or
              > > sentiment or appreciation... I suppose what
              > intrigues me right away
              > is any
              > > statement that makes claim to what "we need." Who
              > is we? And do we
              > really?
              > > And while the "mass production of anything lessens
              > its value" certainly
              > > makes sense on both economical and aesthetic
              > levels, it sets up a value
              > > system based on rarity, on exclusivity, which is
              > great for those who
              > have.
              > >
              > > "When we produce a book using the oldest known
              > method of printing,
              > we add
              > > value to that book."
              > >
              > > Again, practically (financially) speaking, this is
              > obviously true. But
              > > beyond that, the term "value" becomes a bit
              > narrow. What I think you're
              > > referring to here is not, per se, the contemporary
              > and feeble idea of
              > > "value," but an opportunity to appreciate fine
              > craftsmanship. Yet how is
              > > this more valuable than a teenager's experience of
              > reading a
              > Xerox-copied
              > > 'zine that speaks to their life at any given
              > moment? I have a few comic
              > > books I've kept since I was 12 that mean the world
              > to me, even if
              > they were
              > > made of acid-rich newsprint and are disintegrating
              > as we speak. I
              > also, as
              > > mentioned in my last, have the memory of sitting
              > in the British Library
              > > turning the pages of Jenson's books, printed in
              > 1470 and somehow still
              > > beautiful at my fingertips, that I will never
              > forget. Both of these are
              > > "valuable" experiences to me, but to most neither
              > of these
              > > experiences/objects have any value whatsoever.
              > >
              > > I don't mean to rip apart Austin's post, it just
              > raised interesting
              > > considerations. What I wanted to say in my last
              > post is simply that
              > there is
              > > no simple binary here between fine press work and
              > mass production;
              > there is
              > > always a myriad of opportunities and options for
              > anyone wanting to
              > produce
              > > something that communicates to others, and books
              > are primarily about
              > > communicating; that is, content conveyed through a
              > given vessel. The
              > goal of
              > > producing a well designed and well made container
              > for that content is of
              > > course what we're all interested in doing, yet
              > much of this thread
              > seems to
              > > be implying that the books we are discussing may
              > as well be filled with
              > > placeholder text.
              > >
              > > I'm thinking here of Frederic Jameson's and Hayden
              > White's writings
              > on "the
              > > content of form," arguing that the form of any
              > writing speaks as
              > clearly as
              > > its content. At the moment, however, it seems the
              > form of the
              > content has
              > > all but made irrelevant the content itself.
              > >
              > >
              > > Jason
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
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            • austin
              ... Jason, As the old saying goes, Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, likewise Value is in the eye of the Buyer. Value is what the buyer sees and perceives
              Message 6 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                Jason Dewinetz wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

                tks

                --


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



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Jason Dewinetz
                I woke this morning wondering if I d perhaps shoved my foot down my throat with my last post, but am glad to see more discussion on the topic and appreciate
                Message 7 of 29 , Aug 13, 2005
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                  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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 of 29 , Aug 15, 2005
                        • 0 Attachment
                          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 12 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 13 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 14 of 29 , Feb 9 6:30 PM
                              • 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 15 of 29 , Feb 9 8:19 PM
                                • 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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