It's been a hectic week of buying and selling. I've had several non-book books to work on, and they've got me wondering: When is a book not a book? When it's an artist's book, of course.
Wikipedia defines artists' books as "works of art realized in the form of a book." They are produced in limited editions, and are sometimes completely unique. I was confronted with two limited editions of Café Man Ray and their contents, which range from matchbooks to lapel pins.
Here are the two limited editions: boxed and portfolio.
Though I'm more comfortable with describing books ? size, shape, condition ? than with listing the diverse contents of an avant-garde experimental publication, these were fun to handle. The boxed edition includes the signatures of the publisher and Juliet Man Ray, who died in 1991.
If you're interested in this art form, and you're going to be in New York City on the evening of September 28, there is a free lecture at 6 p.m. titled: "Production Not Reproduction: The Influence of Offset Printing on Artist's Books." This lecture will be given by the Center for Book Arts.
In the 1960s, Ed Ruscha put Los Angeles on the artists'-book map with his books of photography. We have six of Ruscha's books in stock right now.
The Rare Book Room at our Burnside store has a limited edition Ursula Le Guin bookwork in stock, called Direction of the Road. Limited to 150 copies, it is signed by Ms. Le Guin and artist Aaron Johnson. It is getting a lot of attention from people who visit the room. Le Guin fans should take a look!
A book is definitely not a book when it is a portfolio of photographic prints. It might not be considered good marketing to write about a book that we had and then sold, but I was lucky enough to work on In Memorium, a silk bound portfolio of twelve prints by Herman Leonard. Here's a smoky, jazz-filled image for you to enjoy:
Maybe if we're good booksellers this week, the book fairy will bring us more copies of the non-book In Memorium.
When is a book more than just a book? When it benefits the environment. If you love birds or ornithological prints, check out the upcoming Sotheby's sale of the Brooks McCormick collection.
On October 5, in New York, this collection will be auctioned to benefit the International Crane Foundation. Even if you can't afford to spend thousands on the prints and bound books that will be for sale, you might consider buying one of the beautifully prepared catalogs. Dodo motif endpapers (at least I think that's a dodo) and fabulous color photos make this catalogue a keeper.