a trip to the book store (where it’s nice and cold)

by Grace Bonney

lately my brain has been consumed with thinking of locations that have good, strong central air. we’ve already been to two movies this week (knight & day and toy story 3, both fun!) so i’m pretty sure my next step today will be a visit to the giant barnes & noble on my block. those stores pump up the air conditioning like it’s their life’s mission, so i’ve been writing up a list of books i want to check out and bring home for summer reading. (i know i repeatedly mention i don’t read books much, but this summer i’m set on changing that). i figured i’d start with something near and dear to my heart: letterpress. an amazing array of letterpress and printing-related books have come out this year (and late late year) so i thought i’d share the six that have been on my wishlist this week.

reinventing letterpress and the little book of letterpress, both by charlotte rivers (the first is the european version, the second is the american version), are at the top of my list. the latter is only available for pre-order but after reading the description about the history of craft, a detailed explanation of presses, and peeks into the studios of letterpress artists, i’m sold (well, pre-sold).

adventures in letterpress printing by brandon mies (love that book cover) looks at the art letterpress through interviews with contemporary artists and pictures of their work in the form of letterpress posters, cards and packaging. i have a soft spot for larger form letterpress posters, so i’m particularly excited about that. and speaking of posters, hatch show print: the history of a great american poster shop looks amazing. the publisher explains that, “nashville’s hatch show print shop has produced…an astounding variety of posters and ephemera advertising everything from trailers to state fairs, wrestling matches to circuses, roberto duran to dwight d. eisenhower”. i seriously can’t wait to take that one home, it’s going to be a visual feast.

impressive is a look at the artists who are making strides in the fields of graphic design, printmaking, and letterpress. i haven’t seen this in person yet or received a press release with more details, but i’ve heard such rave reviews from artists in my area that it’s a must-buy for me.

last but not least, i bought the printmaking bible last year for no other reason than to daydream about being able to produce my own prints again. i actually focused on printmaking with my art major in college, and have missed having my hands covered in ink ever since i left the studio. just reading through all these techniques makes me misty eyed for the lake matoaka studio all over again. (it also makes me cough, remembering the aquatint box and the seriously toxic dust it leaked).

Suggested For You


  • I highly recommend the Hatch Show Print book. Not only is it such a great history of letterpress from the shop who knows (they have been around 131 years this year!) but its also a great read and gives you so much to look at. The shop’s manager, Jim Sherraden actually co-authored it.

  • I can’t believe this is this morning’s first post! I happened across a free letterpress and lay awake last night trying to figure out what I could do with it until I can open up my own studio/shop, which has always been a bit of pipe dream of mine. What a perfect post, maybe some books will inspire me to pursue this! Thanks Grace!

  • No way! I just started taking a letterpress class, and I’m smitten! I’ve been looking for books at my local library, but couldn’t seem to put my finger on quite the right one – now all of the sudden, I’ve got a whole LIST of books to look for! Thanks for reading my mind!

  • I *heart* Hatch Show Print. It’s my favorite spot in downtown Nashville. They have friendly cats who lounge around while the smells of ink and paper and the whirring sounds of machinery spin all around them.

  • When I lived in Park Slope I spent HOURS in the Barnes & Noble on 7th Ave, precisely because of the air conditioning. Plus, Mr. Softee would always be parked outside, and who can say no to a frozen treat when it’s sweltering hot outside?

  • Printmaking, linocuts by hand….. is my absolute obsession right now! And I must admit I know very little about Letterpress, but am extremely curious about what it’s all about.

    Thanks for adding to my long list of books I must get my hands on!


  • The Printmaking Bible and the Hatch Show book are the 2 books on my shelf that let me escape back to my printmaking days as an art major too. I may be romanticizing the past (20 y/o me wasn’t much of an artist then), but I loved the smell of the studio, the messes vs. pristine paper, the fact that no one knew just what any of the gunky liquids and odd, sharp tools I had were.

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