InsideOUT: Contemporary Bindings of Private Press Books



Lucky me! I got my catalogue early. Another example of my motto: You Don’t Ask; You Don’t Get. To tell the truth, I asked for something totally outrageous and impossible. Sayaka Fakuda, who is doing much of the administrative work for the exhibit on behalf of Designer Bookbinders, let me down gently and offered some nice consolation prizes. One was an advance copy of the exhibit catalogue. I cannot thank her enough. It is delicious. I can’t stop looking at it. These bindings are sexy. I want to fondle them.

So I took a leap of faith. Even though I cannot be at the collector’s preview at St. Bride’s on May 14th from 4:30-5:45, when the books can be fondled, sorry, examined, I have submitted a lottery form for a binding. That’s right. Just based on the book that was bound, two photos of the binding, and a description, I am attempting to purchase a binding by a binder whose work I have never seen in person. When I say “attempting,” I mean that it’s a lottery. If my form requesting this binding is picked out of a hat first, I get to purchase it. If another collector’s form is pulled first, with the same binding listed as first choice, I lose. Keep your fingers crossed for me. It’s the only one I want.




Upcoming Exhibit: Contemporary Bindings of Private Press Books

Designer Bookbinders has sponsored an exhibition of over 60 bindings by designer binders working in either North America or the United Kingdom (sorry Central and South America). The invited participants could choose from a group of private press books: four printed in the UK and 5 printed in North America. The bindings were due on February 3rd, and the selection and photography will commence on the 13th (today!).

As far as I know, this exhibit is a first. Designer Bookbinders has an annual competition for UK based binders only and a triennial international competition. I’m very excited because whatever the result, this is going to be a fabulous opportunity to see the work of many North American binders all in one place. I think we are going to see bindings by binders who rarely compete. Another great feature of this exhibit is that it is neither a set book, nor thematic. I am sure that allowing the binders to choose from so many lovely books provided scope for imagination and inspiration. I can hardly wait to see the bindings!

The chair of the committee for the exhibit is Sayaka Fukuda, a licentiate of Designer Bookbinders. I do not know who else is on the committee. There will be a catalogue of the exhibition and a tour.

The tour schedule is:

15 May – 22 August St Bride Foundation
11 Sept – 13 December Houghton Library
10 Jan – 28 March 2015 MCBA, Minneapolis
10 Apr – 19 Apr 2015 Bonhams, New York
6 June – 5 July 2015 San Francisco Centre for the Book, San Francisco

I really like the looks of the tour schedule. St. Bride’s makes perfect sense, as it is the home of Designer Bookbinders. Hitting the East Coast, the Midwest, and the West Coast is great. We could argue about Chicago vs Minneapolis and ask why there is no stop in the South. However, we must keep in mind that you have to have willing hosts, a vacant slot in the host’s exhibition schedule, and a space that can comfortably accommodate the exhibition. The tour lasts over a year. I hope we can all make it to one of these book meccas. The exhibit dates at Houghton Library (who do you have to know to get an exhibit placed there?) will very nicely overlap with the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair, an annual event sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, which usually occurs in mid-November. I don’t know the dates for 2015 yet, but the brief appearance in New York may be during or just after the ABAA/ILAB antiquarian book fair. For those who don’t know, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair is a Very Big Deal. It’s huge. It’s International. It’s New York. Bonhams is a few blocks from the fair. The Center for Book Arts is a very long 40 blocks away.

So, I’ve mentioned antiquarian book fairs twice. What does that have to do with contemporary designer bindings, you may ask? Simple: there are quite a few dealers who specialize in bindings, artists’ books, and book arts: antique, contemporary, and that fuzzy area in between. The next ABAA/ILAB book fair will be in New York, the first weekend in April. The one after that is in London in May. There are other ILAB book fairs. Paris and Frankfurt, I think. The one in Los Angeles just ended. Next year it will be in San Francisco. Check the ILAB website for dates.