Sunday, 12 July 2009

3-year note on bookshops

Three years ago to the Sunday, after visiting three bookshops within walking distance of the bathysphere, the Oceanographer started this blog. Today all three shops have closed. Most spectacularly, John Thornton, of Fulham Park Road, (allegedly) retired after making a fortune from an ignorant Church of England Diocescan library sell-off which included the break-up of a spectacular extra-illustrated Bible . The independent new-books Pan Bookshop in Fulham Road closed with some heartbreak at the end of 2007. However the travel booksellers Daunt Books have since opened in the same premises -- must get along there. Finally I just heard this week that the World's End bookshop has closed :-(

Saturday, 11 July 2009

London artist-publishers old & new

In the suitable venue of the Bridewell Hall at St Bride's Printing Library on Wednesday, there was a party to celebrate the 25th birthday of the magnificent Book Works, who commission and publish books by artists (as well as selling publishing-related services to others). Commitment, focus and acumen must all play a part in their success, as well as (by the accounts of the artists involved) being great to work with. Now they are launching a Friends scheme: for £35 p.a. you don't get any free books, but launch invitations, newsletter and the warm glow of being a patron, which increasingly substitutes, in this busy life at least, for the white heat of personal creativity ... My cheque's in the post.
Among the hundreds of cool party guests I met the editors of London's newest artist-periodical, Stone Canyon Nocturne (a.k.a. apparently 9-09), who had their inaugural launch party (they called it a wayzgoose) a week before. Using an Adana proofing press and a weird and wonderful collection of old types, and citing Bob Cobbing among its forebears, this is a broadsheet series whose wholemeal materiality is rather different from the subtle adaptation of trade values that enables Book Works publications to 'pass' in bookshops. Nonetheless, the first SCN is a short, funny text made by Clive Phillpot, the great curator-librarian and champion of artists' books, who happens also to be Book Works' Chair of Trustees.

The 9-09 title references Vito Acconci and Bernadette Mayer's '60s mimeo magazine 0-9, but 'Stone Canyon Nocturne' is the title of a poem by Charles Wright, which seems aesthetically at odds with everything else about the venture. A moment's web truffle however reveals (in an article by Marjorie Perloff, quoting this poem) that Wright & Acconci were exact contemporaries at the University of Iowa -- so there you go, it's ironic I suppose ... I love the SCN mission statement anyway: "to conflate the fractured vernacular and dissemination systems of the twenty first century with the production processes of the nineteenth". Go guys! That's another cheque in the post then.