Archive for the ‘Fine Press Book Association’ Category

“Parenthesis” Announces New North American Editor

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Paul Razzell, outgoing North American editor of “Parenthesis.”

Dear FPBA Community,

I am pleased to announce that Parenthesis 23 will soon be in your mailbox. This issue is the seventh I have edited for the Fine Press Book Association, and it will be my last.

I am also pleased to announce that Bob McCamant will be taking over as North American Editor of Parenthesis – and this is something we can all be excited about. For those of you who don’t already know Bob, he has at various times been the FPBA’s North American Chairman and Treasurer; he’s currently President of the American Printing History Association, and for 35 years was the Vice-President of The Chicago Reader. Bob is the editor of Caxton Club’s monthly journal The Caxtonian, and since 1984, he has published many fine books at his Sherwin Beach Press. Add to these credentials his involvement with The Grolier Club, and you’ll share my excitement that the North American issues of Parenthesis will be in very good hands! I look forward to seeing Bob’s work on Parenthesis 25 (Fall 2013) – the journal’s silver issue!

Bob McCamant: new North American editor of “Parenthesis.”

Please send your article suggestions and other correspondence pertaining to the North American issues of Parenthesis to Bob McCamant at Sebastian Carter continues to be Parenthesis’s European Editor. Sebastian’s email is

Working with the Parenthesis contributors, the FPBA Board, copy editors, designers, printers, and others involved in making this outstanding international journal has been a great pleasure. Stepping away from Parenthesis will free up time to devote to my other passions – mainly composing music.

I look forward to reading about the books and people in the fine press community in future issues of Parenthesis.

All the very best,

Paul Razzell

Looking for examples of marked-up proofs of a fine press book

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Fine press people, collectors, librarians:

In each issue of Parenthesis we run a two-page spread called “Copy & Print” in which we show the marked-up proofs or designer’s sketches for the layout of a fine press book. (See the image below for an example.) “Copy & Print” is meant to be mostly visual — something readers can take in through pictures, and to see behind-the-scenes of a book in progress. I have always found it interesting to see how book designers work, how they annotate their proofs, and to compare a designer’s (or printer’s) preliminary plans with the finished work in order to see how the design evolved.

I want to line something up for P23 (our fall 2012 issue) and wondered if in your travels, you have ever come across a particularly interesting example of a marked-up proof that might be a good candidate for P23’s “Copy & Print”. It could be a contemporary example — or an older one. Think of the work of other bookmakers you know, items you’ve seen in libraries or special collections….
I’d be grateful for any leads! Please contact me at

Spread the word! Thanks!

— Paul Razzell

Parenthesis 21: The Massachusetts Issue now out

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Our special issue of Parenthesis devoted to fine printing and the book arts in Massachusetts is now out, and early responses from FPBA members are starting to roll in:

“Jaw-droppingly beautiful.”

“It is so far beyond my greatest imaginings that I am speechless. It takes the magazine to another level entirely.”

“A wonderfully rich and vibrant issue … it would be impossible to come away from it with the belief that the fine book is in decline.”

Here’s a list of the contents of the issue. All members should have their copies in their hands shortly. Not a member? Join now!

Special Feature:
Fine Printing and Book Arts in Massachusetts
My Studies at the Free Academy of Gehenna, Lance Hidy
The Society of Printers, Richard Zauft
Straighten Up and Dress Right, Barry Moser 
Abigail Rorer and Barry Moser, Simon Brett
Arno Werner, Leonard Baskin, Harold P. McGrath and the Tradition of Book Arts in Massachusetts, Barbara Blumenthal
To Heaven in a Hellbox with Art Larson, Michael Kuch
The Story of Daniel E. Kelm, Aprile Gallant 
David Bourbeau, Bibliotect (1942–2009), Jesse Rossa
The Private Press Activities of William Addison Dwiggins Part 1: ‘The White Elephant and The Fabulist, 1913–1921’, Bruce Kennett
The Sun Hill Press, Jesse Marsolais
Wild Carrot Letterpress, Bruce Chandler
A Field Guide to Book Arts Programs in New England, Katherine M. Ruffin
A Checklist of Fine Press Books Produced in Massachusetts and Published in 2010, Michael Russem

Beyond Massachusetts
Fine Printing in the Northeast Kingdom: The Stinehour Press, Elton Hall
Wolfgang Buchta, Russell Maret
Glenn Goluska, Chester Gryski
William B. Ewert, Publisher: A Passion for Writers and Writing, John Kristensen
David Wolfe and Scott Vile: Practicing the Black Art in Maine, Ian J. Kahn
MCBA × 25 = Space + Time, Betty Bright

How to Photograph Books, Annie Schlechter

Fine Printing’s Design Problem, Michael Russem
McDonald’s or Chez Panisse?, Jerry Kelly

Copy and Print
Barbarian Press’s The Play of Pericles

Book Reviews
Alphabetum Romanum: The Letterforms of Felice Feliciano c. 1460, Verona, Bruce Whiteman
The Artist & the Capitalist: William Morris and Richard Marsden, Fran Durako
Displaced, David Evans
French Renaissance Printing TypesAndrew Steeves
In the School of Baskin, Terrence Chouinard
Love, Graham Nash, David Evans
Papermaking at Hayle Mill, Beth Kanell
25 Years of Artists’ Books by Robin Price, Publisher, Crispin Elsted

Books Briefly Noted, Paul W. Nash


Let the FPBA help you promote your fine press books — for free.

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

If you are a private press and have a new book that you would like to be listed in an upcoming issue of Parenthesis, and/or announced to FPBA members via the FPBA website, e-newsletter, and/or listed in the Private Libraries Association’s annual bibliography Private Press Books, you can use this form to send us the details. This service puts your book in front of the eyes of collectors, librarians, and others with an interest in fine press books — and it’s free! Details here.

— Paul Razzell

Gaspereau Press Title Takes The Giller Prize!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Giller prize winner Johanna Skibsrud (middle), author of 'The Sentimentalists', receives a hug from her sister Kristin Skipsrud Ross (R) and friend Rebecca Silver Slayter (behind) during Scotiabank Giller Prize ceremony in Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, November 9, 2010. (National Post photo.)

Very good news, everyone: The Giller Prize, Canada’s top literary prize, has just been awarded to Johanna Skribsrud for her debut novel, The Sentimentalists, published by Gaspereau Press — the very press who designs and prints the North American issues of Parenthesis. The prize was announced in Toronto late on November 9th, 2010.

In the weeks since the Giller finalists were announced, the Canadian literary establishment has found it difficult to make out what Gaspereau Press — a hybrid trade and fine press — is really all about.

The Globe and Mail ran this story about Gaspereau’s commitment to making The Sentimentalists their way: letterpress jackets, guts printed on their ‘house’ paper (Rolland’s Zephyr Antique Laid), sewn bindings, etc. — in spite of a large trade publisher’s offer to mass-produce more copies for them. In this article, Gaspereau’s co-publisher Andrew Steeves explains the philosophical underpinnings of his approach to making books in this way, and eloquently defends his decision not to mass produce — even in light of the spike in demand for copies of this book that he could not immediately meet.

Andrew Steeves at Gaspereau Press. (Globe and Mail photo.)

Hours before the Giller was awarded, The National Post described the “clash of cultures” that takes place when a small literary press is nominated for a prize dominated by the big publishing houses:

“This [approach to publishing] may seem like willful eccentricity on the part of Andrew Steeves and Gary Dunfield, Gaspereau’s co-publishers. It’s actually something much more interesting: a commitment to a thoughtful, rigorous, refined mode of publishing. While publishing is usually discussed as a business, or an industry, all of the finest small press publishers practice it as an art form. The books that they choose to publish aren’t chosen to fill out a season with a handful of products that stand a reasonable chance of selling. Their lists are cultural projects, embodying a few individuals’ ideas of what literature can be. Biblioasis’ loose collective of editors, all of them excellent writers and notorious contrarians, are heterogeneous in their tastes but share a commitment to rabble-rousing and literary excellence. Gaspereau, and the handful of other companies that operate in a similar way, take this conceit to its logical extreme: both the process through which their books are made, and the physical objects that result, are inextricable from their editorial objectives.”

And that is why the Fine Press Book Association hires Gasperau to design and print the North American issues of Parenthesis year after year!

Now it’s time for some video. Here’s Andrew Steeves printing letterpress jackets for The Sentimentalists late into the night.

And here’s the book blocks being sewn on a Sulby binder.

Contratulations, Gaspereau!

— Paul Razzell

FPBA Annual Student Membership only US$25!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Good news!

Students in the Americas can join the FPBA for an annual membership rate of US $25. This includes all the benefits of a standard membership, including a year-long subscription to Parenthesis, the Association’s journal.

Want to know what’s happening in the world of fine printing and the book arts? Parenthesis is the journal for people who are serious about fine printing and other aspects of beautiful books.

Join the FPBA now!

— Paul Razzell

Russell Maret elected new NA FPBA Chair

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Russell Maret explains something on the Codex 2009 show floor.

At a telephone meeting held on September 25, the North American board of directors selected Russell Maret for a new 3-year term as Chair. He will serve until 2013, and replaces Robert McCamant, whose term is expiring.

In addition, the board elected McCamant as Treasurer and Bob Baris and Spencer Timm as new board members. Previous officer David Moyer opted to renew as Recording Secretary, while Stephen Heaver and Mark McMurray renewed as board members. Sean Donnelly remains until 2012 as Membership Secretary, and additional board members with their year of term expiration include Jeffrey Cooper ’11, Robert Fleck ’11, Lee Harrer ’11, Peter Koch ’12, Michael McGarvey ’12, L.D. Mitchell ’12, Abigail Rorer ’12, Katherine Ruffin ’11, Michael Russem ’12, Wilbur “Chip” Schilling ’12, and Jane Siegel ’12.

FPBA members: one of these prints will be yours!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Parenthesis 19: nearly there!

Most copies of Parenthesis 19 have been bound and, as promised, an original silkscreen print (produced by Tara Books of India) has been hand-inserted into each copy. If you are a member of the FPBA, one of these prints will be yours. Become a member now.

In the photo below, Canadian novelist Susan Bailey stopped by Gaspereau Press and helped fold jackets. Note the mountain of untrimmed copies of the journal behind her. Susan appears to be saying, “How many more do I have to fold?!” Copies of the latest issue will be mailed out to members very soon.

Photos from the Gaspereau Press blog.

— Paul Razzell

Parenthesis 19 jackets coming off the press …

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

We’re lucky our printer (and designer), Andrew Steeves, had his camera on hand while he was printing the jackets for Parenthesis 19. Andrew writes:

Today, I started printing the final colour on the jackets for Parenthesis. I mixed this blue by eye using mix of yellow, rubine red, reflex blue, and transparent white. I usually ignore colour matching systems like Pantone® when I’m mixing inks for my own letterpress jobs. I neither need nor desire perfectly matched colour. I don’t want to be able to reproduce this again, exactly the same, six months from now. A letterpress printer never dips his pallet knife in the same ink twice, Heraclitus might have said.

I’m still chained to my press today, cranking out Parenthesis covers. Hand-cranking 1200 sheets of paper through a Vandercook, watching the same inked form flash by over and over, gives you time to think about things. If there are problems with the job which are beyond your control to repair, it makes for a long and depressing run, knowing that what you are making falls short of your intentions. But if the work is sound and the press is running well, there is joy and fresh discovery to be found in each sheet through the press.

Although I had originally intended to print the body text in black, the decision to run the text in a separate pass from the ornaments (which required massive amounts of ink) opened up the opportunity to introduce a third colour. I’ve selected Warm Grey no. 4. This flexibility, this ability to alter a design to suit what occurs on the press, is one of the reasons that I like printing the things I design personally. This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan a job carefully, only that you should be attentive and responsive to opportunities and challenges as they present themselves.

Photos: Parenthesis 19 cover on the press

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

More photos from the Gaspereau Press blog showing Parenthesis 19 in production. The letterpress-printed jacket will feature Gaspereau’s proprietary Memorial Hall ornaments, shown here in photopolymer. you can see a few more sneak-peek pictures here and here.

Parenthesis is the journal of the Fine Press Book Association and deals broadly in fine and private press printing as well as bookbinding, typography, collecting, publishing and related areas. Richly illustrated in full color, it is published twice a year and is available free to FPBA members. The coming issue will be larger-than-normal, has a special focus on fine printing in California, and will include a loosely inserted limited-edition print from Tara Books in India. FPBA members whose dues are paid up will receive their copy toward the end of September. If you have been thinking about joining the FPBA, now would be a great time to do so. Membership in the FPBA is surprisingly affordable, and you can do it online here.

— Paul Razzell