i wish there was a blog that like archived/documented the bomb-ass design of totally esoteric and expensive art books, ‘cos damn, shit makes me so hard. if i had a scanner at my library job i would probably do it, ‘cos damn.
Geez, Blake… you’re a brilliant writer. Submit a ms to your local Cultural Council, when the fiction cycle comes around. Surely you can get some money, that way.
…That is… assuming you don’t live in New York, California or Texas. Excessive competition is bad, man.
M.: What is your view on having a literary database list and keep track of the book-art market? I’ve always been interested in that (because as an art student I was more than a little frustrated at never being able to find book art (particularly since that was one of my three main focuses)… and the fact that so many of them were done as limited hand-made runs to be marketed like sculptures rather than mass-produced books. …I wanted mass-produced book-art at prices any book-lover could afford.
But as for cataloging them… I’ve always felt I needed someone intimately knowledgeable about these things to help me out. …Same with comix / graphic novels. Always wanted to list them… but I don’t usually read these things . . . except online.
…Just one of the reasons I’ve always wanted to run my own bookshop. (For new books.) …But that dream will never come true. I’m doing other things instead. Things I actually can do.
I actually focused on artist(‘s) books while I was getting my art degree too. The limited black & white photos in the canonical texts (lol, like there’s actually a canon of lit on artist’s books) of Joanna Decker & Keith Smith are generally more frustrating than enlightening, in the sense that they are always just a single spread or the cover.
The problem, as you’ve mentioned, is the limited editions. And I’m not sure how possible it is to get into rare book archives & photograph titles without some sort of express (and I assume paid for) permission.
I’ve found that sometimes larger small editions (like, of 300-500) will sometimes slip into circulation at certain libraries and that allows titles to become available through inter-library-loan programs. I’ve scored some gems in this way. Of course, part of the major problem I had/have with the idea of the artist book is its inaccessibility, not in terms of hermeticism or meaning, but rather in the fact that if I want to read/experience a specific text, it’s basically impossible. If I can find it in a special collection, I’m limited to viewing it in a viewing room under, of course, not the best experience for a heightened, active reading.
So I guess that’s another reason to get rich, to purchase artist’s books and document them. There’s one blog that I’ve found that deals with artists books in a highly competent & informed way, and that’s Impossible Objects.
I was able to get into the Book Arts archive (a really tiny room, if I remember right) at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts . . . but only because our professor got permission to bring us there. (I got free admission, anyhow, of course, but not access to the storage rooms, obviously.)
Yale’s library also has a room filled with artist’s books, which you can browse. I’d guess that a lot of the other major universities are similar. And… just to dismiss any subconscious connection: I did not attend Yale. I’ve been to their library only because the town I grew up in is next door to New Haven.