An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

November 2022

In this newsletter . . .

a new book planned: Only the printer knows

news about The last papermakers of Fukushima

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a new title:
Only the printer knows

The story of a book that very nearly never was

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It's thirty years since we published our first book, Venice Approached*, so it seemed fitting to mark 2022 in some way (though we shall miss our target!). Perhaps unconventionally, we will be doing this not with a conspectus of our output over those three decades but instead with a book about the travails of printing, and about the serendipitous but disaster-laden story of one book in particular, our tenth, Venice Visited.

The book was five years in the making and was the product of much serendipity and much angst. Each of the components that went into the book had its story: the type, the text paper, the illustrations, the cover papers, the printing. At one point things went so badly wrong the project was very nearly abandoned.

The book runs to twenty-four large pages, the text hand-set in 14pt Dante, and printed on a hand-made paper from Batchelor. The paper probably dates from the 1930s. It came originally from Oxford University Press, via Whittington Press who acquired the remaining stocks of OUP's hand-made papers when the Printing House closed. John Bidwell examined the papers and reckoned that the paper we now have was part of the making for the Bruce Rogers Lectern Bible published in 1933. As such the paper has had a history. Our new book will be printed on folded half-sheets and we have decided to keep the deckle edges and not to have the bottom and fore edges trimmed even though some have become a little dusty - it is part of the paper's history. The sheets are of course being printed damp.

Each copy will include spare sheets from Venice Visited and a copy of the original prospectus. Of the edition of probably just 50 copies, we are planning for a handful to be specials containing surplus sheets from more than thirty of our books and a collection of past ephemera in a case. Expressions of interest welcome. Price to be determined once the final binding details have been decided.

* Eagle-eyed owners will note that Venice Approached has 1991 on its title page but it didn't actually appear until the following year.


progress on
The last papermakers of Fukushima

by Ellie Burkett - images and text start to come together

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In a few weeks' time we hope to take delivery of the remaining stocks of several different papers from the Anzai family in Kamikawasaki. As there are few sheets left we shall be incorporating whole or part sheets in the book as samples rather than printing on them.

Ellie Burkett has been working on the texts that will accompany the thirty-one photographs that will appear in the book. This has meant much toing and froing between England and Japan and between English and Japanese to be sure of accuracy in both the terms used and the process.

The papers that will find their way into the book include pure kozo papers, dyed papers (pink and indigo of various shades), walnut-dyed crushed papers, and papers with petals.

The book will make about 120 pages, including a foreword by paper historian Sidney Berger, and will be case-bound with suminagashi papers by Sarah Amatt on the boards - a dramatic style of Japanese marbling:

Section headings in the book will appear in Japanese, for which calligrapher Yoko Hashimoto has prepared exquisite brush originals for us to work from. Below is the character for kazu, the local dialect form of kozo, the plant from which the paper is made.

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Copyright Martyn Ould 2022