Response from Simon Cutts, Coracle Press
Dick Higgins of Something Else Press used to say that he matched the time he spent editing, organising and producing a book to the time he spent in distribution and getting it out into the world : nine months production therefore nine months distribution.Dick learned from the formal plain-ness of trade printers and binders to make some of the finest books we have seen. Of course, this marriage between production and distribution cannot be extracated from its content.
A similar artisanal approach and understanding informs Jargon Books in their heyday. They didn’t necessarily have to do much of it themselves, although in the case of Coracle, as Erica keeps reminding me, we have more time than money and so end up doing quite a lot of it at home! Those kind of tradesmen, the printers and binders, provide the idiomatic structures and strictures that we can break out of, again, without necessarily doing it ourselves, except editorially.
I don’t think we should go down the cul de sac of ‘book artists’, nor get bogged-down in the divisibility of parts of the field, editing,production (paying bills?)!,distribution. Unless we each attempt to find a methodology for our activity different from ‘book art’, it will be doomed to a branch-line of the visual arts (like moving from ‘artists books’ to ‘conceptual performance’?) and also therby become the province of galleries and specialist dealers, and with the usual perjorative thrust towards expense and rareity, when in fact the qualities we really want are simple form, plain-ness, imperceptible editing, and hopeful availability.