Shereen LaPlantz "Innovative Bookbinding" Book Now Available
Yesterday was a momentous day. We just put the finishing touches on a huge project: republishing a how-to book by Shereen LaPlantz, Innovative Bookbinding: Secret Compartments & Hidden Messages. Many of you have heard me talk about Shereen in the past. Although I never had the good fortune to meet this luminous soul, I have often said that she is the reason I am in the book arts field today. I won't bore you with the details again, but will just say that I discovered the book arts because of Shereen's Cover to Cover book, as I detailed in this blog post. Over the years I have heard the same story from so many other artists, a story of discovery, inspiration and instruction. So many folks adored Shereen and her passion still touches so many artists today. When she died in 2003, she left behind an amazing legacy in the book arts.
Some time ago I was contacted by Shereen's husband, David, who asked for advice on republishing her book. You may recall when a couple of years ago Elissa Campbell got a great discussion going on the Book_Arts-L list serve as she searched for a copy of the original book. The original book was published in two hand-bound editions in 1997 and 2000 and was such a quick sell out that these original 3,000 books are now sought-after and prized collectables. That list serve discussion prompted Elissa to contact David and they got the ball rolling on re-publishing a third edition of this book.
Well, after the trials and tribulations that come with any worthwhile endeavor, the new version of this book is FINALLY done! So many hands were involved in this re-publishing project. Elissa got the ball rolling. Clare Lighton scanned the entire original book. Countless others offered advice and help. And, David had the patience of a saint during this entire process.
Shereen created the original book in Pagemaker and it was printed on a laser printer and hand bound by her and her staff of binders. Sadly, this many years later, there were no computer files to be found so the pages of the original book had to be scanned and re-assembled in InDesign. The scans looked terrific by the time they came to me for layout, but the fact that we were scanning "screened" photos meant we had many problems with the original photographs in the book. Between a moiré pattern and dark laser images we fought and fought to make the new version of the book as clear as possible.
Then there was the question of how to present the "secret compartments and hidden messages" that were such an important part of the presentation of the original book. These parts of the book included hand bound tip-ins, a secret pocket, a pull-down mechanical, stitched booklets and a hidden tunnel book. This new edition of the book was perfectly suited for today's Print on Demand (POD) technology, but there was no way to replicate the hand bound elements. Happily, David was able to photograph the original book and those photos were used to illustrate special new sections in the book. Aside from these new sections David worked hard to faithfully recreate Shereen's vision and craft and even agonized about whether or not to leave typos and such just as Shereen left them.
All in all, the finished project is a testament to Shereen and her passion and I am very honored to have played a small role in bringing this new edition to life. It has been a pleasure to get to know David and to be involved in such an important project.
Another great thing that has come about as a result of this project is the chance to carry Shereen's own artist books here in the gallery. We currently have three of her titles, Historical Jewish Wedding Rings, Hina Book and The Day I Became Me. All three books are important works in the history of artist books and have been a thrill to place in the hands of collectors.
Thank you again to everyone involved in this project. To close I will quote Shereen and simply say, "Make fun books!"