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Re: trade editions



I believe Chronicle published a "trade" edition of "Aunt Sallie's
Lament," a poem by Margaret Kaufman beautifully designed and printed by
Claire van Vleet and based on a binding structure developed by Hedi
Kyle. I think Susan King's "Treading the Maze" was also re-produced,
which was originally an offset project facilitated by the Visual Studies
Workshop Press as part of the "Montage 93" festival.

There's an inherent problem akin to translating literary works from one
language to another when mass producing books that were originally
conceived as small editions. I've had the opportunity to compare the
Chronicle edition of "Aunt Sallie's Lament," with the "original" and, as
you might guess, there is much lacking in the trade edition. But it's
such a strong work that the intent carries pretty well. It's a difficult
book to physically translate, which is what I found disappointing. I
have not seen the trade edition of "Treading the Maze," but since this
was an offset work originally, it may find it's way more easily into the
local Barnes & Noble without suffering as much.

I'm  amazed these works are being reprinted at all, and I hope it
continues, but I wonder what the "market" really is for such work? I've
watched a friend "shop" her artists book project around to publishing
houses for two years, with positive feedback about the work, but no
takers becaues they just don't know how to categorize it. The closest
someone came to defining a strategy was to treat it as an "impulse buy,"
displayed close to the register -- but it's not a "happy" book, so it
didn't quite fit that profile either.

Thinking about this as a process of translation, I'm sorry we're not
seeing more works produced that are conceived in the language of trade
publishing. My friend's experience illustrates how difficult it can be
to get into print (or to get an imprint). I'm wondering if we need to
mass produce artists books? I'd just assume not find my work on a
remainder table alongside the diet books and celeb biographies, which is
exactly where I found my copy of Chronicle's "Aunt Sallie's Lament."


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