Posts Tagged ‘Peter Koch’

The Art of the Book in California: Five Contemporary Presses

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

The Art of the Book in California: Five Contemporary Presses

June 1 – August 28, 2011

Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents an exhibition, “The Art of the Book in California: Five Contemporary Presses,” featuring the “new book,” as defined by contemporary art practices, successful experiments with media, and innovative structures in book production. The exhibition includes some of the most significant works  by Foolscap Press (Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence G. Van Velzer) of Santa Cruz; Moving Parts Press (Felicia Rice) of Santa Cruz; Ninja Press (Carolee Campbell) of Sherman Oaks; Peter Koch Printers (Peter Rutledge Koch) of Berkeley; and Turkey Press (Harry and Sandra Reese) of Isla Vista.
The exhibition’s accompanying catalogue is The Art of the Book in California: Five Contemporary Presses.

Edited with an Introduction by Peter Rutledge Koch and ‘What the Ink Sings to the Paper,’ an essay by Robert Bringhurst.

In addition to the essays, an exhibition checklist, and a color photo-section with 138 illustrations, the catalogue includes: ‘A Chronology of Fine Printing in California’ by Robert Bringhurst and a detailed and useful bibliography.
Hardcover, 9 x 8 inches, 132 pp.Stanford University Libraries, Stanford 2011 $30.00Catalogues may be purchased at : The Bookshop, Cantor Arts Center or from: Peter Koch Printers 2203 Fourth St. Berkeley, CA 94710 (510) 849-673Please direct catalogue enquiries to : peter [at symbol]
More information at


— Paul Razzell

Two free lectures by Peter Koch for Vancouver’s Alcuin Society

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

FPBA member Peter Koch will be in Vancouver as one of the judges of the Alcuin Society 2009 Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada competition, taking place on March 27th, 2010. In conjunction with the awards, Peter will present two lectures. The first will be  “Printing in the Shadow of Aldus,” an illustrated talk about Watermark, Joseph Brodsky’s lyrical essay about Venice, with photographs by Robert Morgan.

The book is a series of essays in memoir form by the poet and Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. Peter is an artist, printer, writer, and publisher of fine editions and artist books, and the president of the Codex Foundation. Mr. Koch will be introduced by Robert Bringhurst.

Mr. Koch will show slides and talk about the grand adventure of printing Watermark in Venice in collaboration with an international cast of distinguished printers, artists, and artisans.

For those who can’t make it to Vancouver for this talk, you can read the fascinating story about the making of Watermark in Parenthesis 15 or on this website.

His second lecture will be “Fine Printing and the Imagination.” So book your calendars now. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Top: Peter Koch and Susan Filter recount their adventure publishing Joseph Brodsky’sWatermark in Parenthesis 15. Image copyright Peter Koch.

Middle: Joseph Brodsky and Robert Morgan in Venice.

Below: Barging presses down the Grand Canal in preparation for printing Watermark. Image copyright Sebastian Hartz.

— Paul Razzell

Saving the Soul of the Book Club of California

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Peter KochI am writing this letter with the view of fomenting comment, rebellion and even, heaven forbid . . .  a change in policy to try to save the fine printer from extinction and save the soul of the Book Club of California.

I find myself fondly remembering the good old days before the Club was rich and had an endowment to preserve it. Why, back then books, keepsakes and lovely letterpress postcards simply poured out with a heap of real talented printers providing their graceful work: Adrian Wilson, Jack Stauffacher, Arlan Philpot, Wesley Tanner, Linnea Gentry, Pat Reagh, Susan Acker, Lewis & Dorothy Allen, Jim Whelage, Lawton Kennedy, the Grabhorns, the Hoyem enterprises, and Cranium Press, and Five Trees Press among many others.

The irony of this hasn’t escaped me.

I once delighted in receiving (as much as I delighted in designing and printing) fine letterpress announcements for books, exhibitions and lectures, each splendid design a challenge to print and a suitable and exciting piece worthy of keeping. The members back then were keeping albums of their announcements and it all had a different feeling — a feeling of pride and accomplishment.

Today I receive unattractive offset-printed mailings and e-blasts telling me about the Club activities (nary a collector’s letterpress printer-friendly lifesaving postcard) which I, on occasion, must rescue from my Trash file. Is this somehow prophetic? Have we slipped down the slope of some anti-arts-and-crafts ditch to eschew manu-facture for the questionable benefits of robo-facture?

The irony of this hasn’t escaped me.

Now I am told that the Book Club of California’s quarterly newsletter is to be “modernized”, that is, printed offset instead of letterpress. Is this owing to reduced budget (again)?

I know all too well that the quarterly newsletter is (was) the only American letterpress bibliophile newsletter (that is, it was finely printed and finely designed as well). Instead of supporting the extremely fragile and clearly endangered community of letterpress printers — now drastically reduced in numbers, we expand our quarters, add a webmaster and, what next — put in a video theater? All very well in flush times but now at the expense of the heart of the beast. Are we to forget the letterpress-born, typographically-bred, aesthetically educated printer/publishers and craftsmen and women and let the robots do the work?

I wouldn’t mention all this if I felt that the fine arts of typographic design, type-founding, and the great bibliophilic tradition of the letterpress printing of books were not in extreme danger of disappearing altogether.

For instance, the Whittington Press’s Matrix, as far as I know, is now the only surviving journal actually printed from Monotype typesetting in the world, and when John Randle retires there will likely never be another.

However, the awful truth is that we long ago passed beyond the era of fine letterpress printed books. But this does not mean that we should give up expecting to print and publish fine books.

Au contraire. It means that the rarity of the enterprise should be appreciated and amply supported. If we do not cultivate and actively subsidize our remaining few highly trained and commercially viable type-founders and fine press typographer/printers we will lose them altogether — and very, very soon.

How that subsidy should be arranged is the most pressing question that remains once we have accepted that the fine press book does deserve to continue to exert itself and flourish in the pantheon of the arts of man.

I recommend and support the idea that the membership of the BCC look closely at the policies, practices, and fiscal commitments and resources of the publications committee, the Grants committee, and the practices of our office management (where printed matter is commissioned on a repeated and regular basis (including stationery, business cards, announcements, mission statements, and ephemera relating to all the diverse club activities), in order to assess what printed matter could be directed towards nourishing the remaining few printers as well as what grants could be sought and initiated that would in turn directly support the goal of promoting the practices and practitioners of fine press printing.

Instead of complaining about the high cost of letterpress, why not seek funding resources to augment the production of printed matter while continuing to spread the custom out among the surviving printers in as liberal a manner as possible (remembering at every step of the way that cost-cutting and bottom-lining will assuredly kill the fine press printer as soon — or sooner — than any other form of neglect.)

Since it is the already-stated mission of the BCC to support fine printing, why not expend serious energy on the project of dramatically increasing the funding available for printing and publications? Seems absolutely defensible and indeed likely to help direct and focus the club on its mission — and beyond. . . .

— Peter Koch

Note: The Book Club of California’s directors and officers are listed here.

Books with out jackets: the new thing?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The New York Observer reports on several prominent trade publishers who will be issuing hardcover titles this fall without dust jackets. Instead, the cover art will be printed, even embossed, directly onto the boards.  These publishers, the article states, are taking their cue from the distinctive McSweeny’s titles and, as Peter Koch mentioned at the 2009 Codex Symposium, McSweeny’s is taking its design cue from many private presses. Read the NY Observer article here.

—Paul Razzell