importance of quality book-making

Charles Richardson discusses the state of book-making in the United States in the article “Book-making in America.” He starts of by saying that more people started to read more and that newspaper audiences increase so do the number of people who read books. Even though there was increase in readership, he says that the quality of new books decreased. He compared the paper, construction, and printing of book in America, Germany, and France.

This article was important to our class since a broad focus in our class was to learn about and appreciate the art of making a book. Making a book is much more than writing a compelling and original story. Many people think that the main labor of a book belongs to the author. However printing pages and binding a book takes a manuscript from being a concept to a marketable book. People may not usually consider all the work that went into the creation of a book. The type of paper, print, clothe that creates the front and back cover of books all play a role in the feel of a book.

Richardson noticed that the books being printed after the Civil War, were not as ornate or beautiful as previous books. A comparison can be made to today. Many books are offered in soft covered and hard covered editions at bookstores and on the internet. Today’s books are also available in a digital format. As Richardson stated, books became more popular but the process was made more efficient. As with most things quick efficient processes create a large number of products but each individual product is of a lesser quality. Mass produced books served to be read by many. Books that were handcrafted were considered pieces of art and collected as heirlooms. Books printed in small numbers were more expensive and highly decorated.

Am I a Demon?

One Hundred Demon by Lynda Barry  demonstrate to the reader all the demons that the author is created by, meaning these demons put together is what makes her persona. I believe that the “demons” are a representation of her memories and her life experience; since we are who we are because of the experience that we have lived in our life, and Barry is telling us that she is created by these demons, can we come to the conclusion of making a statement that the author is a demon her self?

Barry explains to us every demon by giving us a little story of how she created them. The fist demons that we get to have a look at is the “head lice”. As we go more into the story we can see that for every demon she has a special name for each one. Most of the demons are “bad” demons as she categorized them as bad or good, but we only have the opportunity to see only one good demon (memory of her playing with her friend as a kid). So since we get to see more bad demon from her can we automatically say that she is also a bad demon herself she had more bad memories than good?

What Did I Do To Be So Blue?

Ralph Ellison’s first-person narrative in monologue form reveals the pains black people were suffering in American society over half a century ago.

When I finished absorbing the last sentence of this article, there was a voice ringing in my head as though hearing a sorrow tune in the distance… “What did I do to be so black and blue…” A deep sense of compassion overwhelmed me and I quickly flipped back to the first page and restart from the very beginning.
Ellison first introduces the main character in the first-person, who laments his invisibility to the white “sleep-walkers” of society. He tells a tale about how he almost killed a “sleep-walking” man on the street after the man blindly cursed him, even after being severely beaten. The narrator uses the metaphor of invisibility stating that this maltreatment towards black people is not because they are born invisible, it’s because they are born into a society that chooses not to see them.

As Ellison portrays in his work, what triggered this almost-murder is the insults the “tall blond man” shot at the invisible man. The white man was blind to the harm he did to the invisible man and kept cursing at him, although a simple solution would have been a sincere apology. Synonymous words to “invisible” repeatedly appeared in this passage, including the blind, unseen, and formless. These words emphasized the discrimination black people were subjected to and the extreme illness of a society at that point. Through the vivid depiction of the invisible man’s thoughts after the incident, readers finally understood the significance of “blue” in his sorrowful song. “I was both disgusted and ashamed. I was like a drunken man myself…Then I was amused.” Beating someone within an inch of his life and the yet absolute refusal of the sleepwalker to apologize hit the invisible man with a stark reality: “Would he have awakened at the point of death?” He would forever remain invisible.

BOOK ART EVENTS (Field Trip Options)

You are responsible for attending at least three of the following events.  You should submit a 2 page write up for each event you attend.



Feb 1, 1-2:  Guided Tours by Curator, “A True Friend of the Cause Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement”

Feb  21 , 6:00 PM–8:30 PM, Columbia University, Talk:  “What Middletown Read: Rediscovering Late Nineteenth-Century American Reading Habits

Feb22- April 29, Grolier Club, “Images of Value: The  Artwork Behind U.S. Security Engraving 1830s-1980s”

March 3, 6:30: Center for Book Arts:  History of Art Series, Panel 1:  Paper as Vehicle for History and Memory

March 17, 6:30: Center for Book Arts:  History of Art Series, Panel 2: Paper as Social Practice, Engagement, and Intervention

March 31, 6:30: Center for Book Arts:  History of Art Series, Panel 3:  Paper as Haptic Experience

April- May 2017, New York Historical Society?


January 24 to May 26, 2017   Columbia University, Kempner Gallery, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Harper & Brothers to HarperCollins Publishers: A Bicentennial Exhibition


The Possible Great Works


Frankenstein (1818) Mary Shelley

Poems and Rousseau?

The Scarlet Letter (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne

Children’s Story

Notes from Underground  (1864)  Fydor Dostoevsky

“The Crocodile”

The Metamorphoses (1912) Franz Kafka

Short Story

Quicksand & Passing  (1928/9) Nella Larsen

Short Story

The Little Prince (1948) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Beloved (1987) Toni Morrison


Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (1997) Moises Kaufman

American Born Chinese (2013) Gene Luen Yang

Graphic Novel Workshop