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Preserving Our Book Arts Heritage
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Preserving Our Book Arts Heritage
- From: QUEERBOOKS <QUEERBOOKS@AOL.COM>
- Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 16:01:49 EST
- Message-Id: <199803212109.NAA34742@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.edu>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: The list for all the book arts!" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
It's true, as many previous postings have pointed out, that books have evolved
over time. I'll also concede that there is not much new that hasn't been done
before. But I also firmly believe that there are artists working in our field
who take a huge leap away from the conventional and invent a structure that is
uniquely their contribution, and deserves to be remembered and acknowledged as
I would include Hedi Kyle's flag book, Scott McCarney's bostrophedon or snake
format, John Wood's interlocking pages, Arthur Stone's flexagons, Paul
Johnson's single-sheet structures, Anna Wolf's bookmobile and the dozens of
book formats sprung from Keith Smith's imaginative brain.
As a book artist fascinated by the structure of books and how they have
evolved over time, I like to mention in the colophon of my books a little bit
about the source of the structure I've used. It's probably similar to the
printer who includes information on the type face and printing techniques.
However a book artist decides to handle giving credit, it's an individual
When it comes to how-to books about making books, I think there is a different
standard. Once a how-to book is published, the author is considered an
authority in the field. In the absence of other information, the assumption
is that the author's work is all original. This is often not the case.
The top of the list (the most credit) goes to Keith Smith who introduces each
structure with a short paragraph that gives a little background. He has
credited the work of Gary Frost, Pamela Spitzmueller, Hedi Kyle and others.
The bottom of the list is still being contested. There are a number of new
volumes on making books that borrow freely from the inventions of other book
artists. It just seems that when you sit down to write a how-to manual, you
take on some responsibility for giving credit to your sources.
Even though books have a long history, there are contemporary book artists who
are continuing to add to the rich diversity of innovative book structures.
Their efforts need to be acknowledged and recorded. It's our heritage and we
need to insure that it is preserved.
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