Saturday, April 14, 2012

Publishing Gone Wild

What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths.
 We fetch it from our neighbors,
we kindle it at home,
 we communicate it to others,
 and it becomes the property of all.

From ancient scrolls and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-readers,
the printed word illuminates our lives.
 Indulge me, dear readers, while I trace our publishing history...just a bit.

From the Manuscript Book mural by John White Alexander (1896),
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D. C.

Manuscript-writing, a labor-intensive effort,
 often damaged the health of monks assigned to scriptoriums.

Only try to do it yourself
and you will learn how arduous is the writer's task.
 It dims your eyes, makes your back ache,
 and knits your chest and belly together.
It is a terrible ordeal for the whole body.
~~10th Century Prior

Bible, 1407 A.D., Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England

 For centuries, an illiterate population gathered knowledge from the spoken word...
until Luther translated the Bible from Latin to German,
 Gutenberg invented the 15th-century printing press,
 and ordinary people could hold books in their hands
to read the printed word for themselves.

A hilarious youtube video about monks learning to adapt
 from paper scroll to book still makes me laugh:
Medieval Helpdesk at the top of my sidebar shows four versions.
Click on the fourth (bottom) one for a 2-minute version with English subtitles.

+   +   +

Fast forward to the 21st century.
 Thanks to the invention of the computer, everyone and anyone's a publisher.
I haven't yet warmed to the Kindle fire...
I still like to hold the printed page in my hand, re-read the pictures,
 and fold them into shelves where I can view beautiful titles on spines.
Part of my comforting decor...

And, I still like to go back to the handmade book now and then,
 teaching my grandsons to print their words and stories on paper,
 stitch pages into centuries-old-style signatures, and add covers.

And collect handmade letterpress books from Convivio Bookworks,
 and handmade book art pieces from Waveland Studio.

So many words, so little time.


S. Etole said...

Oh, yes. The printed page, the feel of the paper. Thanks for the history you have shared.

mermaid gallery said...

I love having a pile of books beside my bed, beside my chair, everywhere!...not a mess at all ....but inspiration up for grabs. I wonder about people that have no books or newspapers about. What do they do with an idle moment?I don't have an e reader yet....but I want one!

rosaria williams said...

Oh yes!
I shall now visit the source pages you so kindly added.

rosaria williams said...

Oh Becky, I visited the Convivio site and fell in love with them/it. What a labor of love! What artistry!
I wish I could share this on Facebook!


I have decided that I really do not like reading on line (except blogs.) The good old print format is my style.

I LOVE the adorable books you are making with your grandkids, Becky. Passing on the good old style.

Great post.

Hanne Bente said...

Hello Becky.
Incredibly beautiful books, etc. you show.
I thought that goetisk writing is so beautiful - know that it is hard to read.
I really like different things - have some icons / krysofix (Valters father comes from Poland), has made fadervorbånd which I have given my grandchildren as a confirmation gift.

Thank you for your comment.
My rhododendrons are beginning to flower (top view)
Collagen is made of pictures from last year.
We have approx. 200 rhododendrons in the garden.
Wishing you a good evening.
Hugs Hanne Bente

tammy j said...

a most beautiful and illuminating post becky!
such dear little hands fashioning a real book. he is already a writer and loving the magic that is books!
we have a young blake in our family too. he's 12. my brother's oldest grandson. he is also a reader, as is his little brother jacob. they both like to draw too.
isn't it wonderful to keep the spirit of real books alive!
love and hugs,
tammy j

Beth said...

Thoroughly enjoyed walking with you briefly through publishing. After hours of addressing wedding invitations in caligraphy (200 for my son's wedding) I remember musing about those monks. When I did my daughter's 25, my hands ached so from arthritis that I couldn't conceive of doing what those monks did. I wonder if their bodies did knit together somewhat?

I have not had patience for paper making but enjoy and cherish fine paper. I use special paper for special handmade cards.

Creating books with your grandsons' is awesome! You do realize you're passing an artform down the family tree? Quite lovely.

kerrie of sea cottage said...

I feel the same way. I homeschooled my children for 15 yrs. which allowed me to teach my children with really old books. One of my daughters is in her fourth year of college as an International Relations/Journalism major. She began as an English major than went to Journalism and now International Relations. She has a heart to 'save' the written word. She is an advocate for reading a book rather than a kindle. She is now the Editor in chief of an International Relations Journal. She was also Editor in Chief of the college campus newspaper. I am grateful that she appreciates the written word keeps our home current on such. The first photo in your post I love. I also like what you are doing by publishing your grandsons writings and drawings..I will have to do that with mine. I may come ask you for help when the time comes. So thank you.

Mise said...

They look like wonderful books that you and your grandsons make together. What fun, and how it validates the worth of their stories.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Dear Becky
I agree the printed word should be.. well.. printed.. I've been a book fanatic all my life and had a vast volume of books I had collected that had become my 'family'.. sadly they all went last year due to a damp problem.. so for that reason only I can see the advantages of tools like kindle.. but I'll always prefer a real book or magazine over the other kind

Have a lovely week.. ciao xxx Julie

By Nela said...

Precioso...Gracias por mostrarnoslo.
Un abrazo muy cariñoso. Manoli

Leslie said...

i LOVE your grandson's illustrated books! GREAT shark drawings :)

Rachel Cotterill said...

I love the old illustrated manuscripts :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I even love the way they smell!

Cobalt Violet said...

I used to collect old books ... love the engravings!
I have books stacked everywhere because my bookshelves are full! Love the video! Funny stuff!

tammy j said...

i'm taking a class in blogging for beginners today at the library.
i am nervous for some reason.
wish me luck!
i would love to have a blog as great as yours is. i don't have a clue as to how it's done... with the urls and the photos and the cookies... oh my! but will soon find out i guess.
here's to glorious books and blogs!
tammy j

Dimple said...

Becky, the video was a hoot! I like reading, regardless of the medium. I used to read the cereal box as I ate my breakfast...I probably still would, except I don't eat cereal any more!

Thanks for the compliment! You are an artist yourself, and if you would like to use Picasa for art, it is easy. Just choose a pic and start playing. Everything is completely reversible, so there is no risk, and the software is free, so there is no cost. What could be better?

Ramblings by Carol Nuckols said...

I love that quote with the kindle reference --- never thought of how the Kindle might have gotten its name. Beautiful images here, and the shark book is delightful. I adore the printed page. Blank pages, too, so full of potential.