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Bookbinding on the Internet
In reply to article about "Bookbinding on the Internet," Designer Bookbinders Newsletter, no. 95, Summer 1996.
To the Editor:
I would like to comment on Chris Partridge's recent article in the DB Newsletter, Bookbinding on the Internet. As the "list-owner" of a listserv (email mailing list) dedicated to the book arts that has over 700 subscribers, and webmaster for both the Guild of Book Workers website and of those for my list archives (and anything else relating to book arts on the Internet) I can tell you that there is much more to the book arts on the Internet than the picture portrayed. Partridge's article left me with the feeling that aside from searching in a very cursory manner he has taken no time looking at the wealth of resources available. It would have been more helpful if he had take the time to list the URLs for the sites he did visit.
Founded in June of 1994, Book_Arts-L has grown to become a virtual community for bookbinders and book artists the world over. Members range from recognized fine binders and conservators, to students, artists, marblers, papermakers, printers collectors, and those just interested. On this listserv we exchange technical information, discuss projects, exchange URLs where our work can be seen (all of which are included on the "Book Arts Web"), and have had discussions about the "whatness of bookness" which could make DB's seem tame by comparison. All postings are available in the archives, which can be viewed and searched at <http://www.philobiblon.com>. This is where one will also find subscription instructions. As mentioned earlier, the Guild of Book Workers <http://www.guildofbookworkers.org> is on the net, as is the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild <http://www.cbbag.ca>, and most of the academic (MFA) bookarts programs. The Guild of Book Workers' upcoming exhibit PAPER, a set book exhibit which will be touring the US will also be on display worldwide via the Internet. There are large numbers of personal homepages which show a tremendous range of book works from the traditional to artists books.
Also on the Internet are numerous exhibits of historical and traditional bindings and artists books. The Philip Smith exhibit can be viewed via Simon Fraser University's (Vancouver, BC) website at <http://www.lib.sfu.ca/proj/psmith.htm>, and is definitely worth a visit, as are the Smithsonian exhibit of "Science and the Artist's Book" or "Aldus" at Brigham Young University. Letterpress printers and printmakers also have their own listservs. I have yet to find the site in Chile which Partridge mentions, but real resources are out there, one just has to look for them.
The Book Arts Web contains arguably the largest and most comprehensive collection of links to bookarts related sites with links to all sites, mentioned here. It can be found at <http://www.philobiblon.com>.
I agree, one might not win any prizes by following some of the techniques available in some of the online tutorials. However, not everyone is vying to become a Fellow of DB. They are but starting points. If I were to start over in my binding career, I would certainly not look at some of the manuals available which sing the praises of oversewing; however I would keep them as reference works. The greatest resources are the individuals which are part of this "virtual" bookarts community. Here real information and experiences are exchanged daily and resources brought to each other's attention. We are a diverse group of characters with egos big and small, but we are willing to help each other with open minds, unlike the insular mindset which seems to dominate DB at times. Poorly researched articles like Partridge's help perpetuate this image of an otherwise excellent group.
Peter D. Verheyen
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