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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Art from Books : Broadsides

It is interesting to me that in the same year that ebooks have become such a huge topic in the book industry, we here at Third Place Books are continuing to entrench ourselves deeper into the world of the physical book. Late last Fall we brought an Espresso Book Machine to our store, and this year we are continuing our eight year program of producing Broadsides.

We commission these original letter press posters, that are designed and printed by local Seattle artist Amy Redmond, two to three times a year to honor some of our favorite authors who have visited our store.  She picks a quote from the book that speaks to her and creates a design inspired by the quote. We produce 150 copies, number them, have the author sign them when they come for their reading and give them away Free to customers who buy the author's most recent book.

We see it as a way of celebrating the author and giving the evening and their book a longer life by allowing their words, along with artwork, to be hung in peoples homes and offices.

Today I just received the broadside for William Vollmann's new book Kissing the Mask. Vollmann will be at our store tomorrow night 4/7 at 7pm.


This one of the more elegant broadsides Amy has done for us, and, as usual, she really put herself into this one. Here is what she said about the process :

As I was hand-tearing the Japanese paper for this broadside, I happened to be having a phone conversation with a friend about the reverance we share for the process of letterpress printing. Later that day, I realized that what I previously thought was too obvious/gimmicky was in fact the perfect final touch to this project: I kissed each and every single print. All 150.

After all, hadn't the paper been made by hand? Hadn't the typeface been drawn and then cast in hot metal by a friend, with each character passing one at a time through my fingers to form words and sentences? Hadn't I already caressed each delicate page, first by tearing it and then by handfeeding it into the press? And so before sending them off to the author for him to sign, why shouldn't I kiss each and every one, bidding them a fond farewell after such intimate relations, wishing them safe travels into the hands of 150 strangers?

Later this month we will have another broadside for Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil, and we hope to have one for Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story later this year.

Posted by Robert Sindelar

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