CalRBS Curated Special Topics: Small Press Communication Circuits: Supply Chains, Publishing, and Distribution

Tuition: $720.00

Curator: Sean Pessin, CalRBS Project Manager

Okay so here is the idea: the book industry is one among many whose modularity is seen as a byproduct of modernization, which carries with it all the strengths and weaknesses of modular systems. Each module is a node along a value-added chain, and it has been suggested that the more one knows outside their node, the worse their own capacity becomes in their node in terms of efficiency. This has implications for book culture.
And, by now, we think we’ve seen it all: freight ships going sideways in canals and truck trailers flipping and obstructing highway traffic in both directions; cookbooks going overboard and to the bottom of the ocean during storms enhanced by climate change; books long in print smoldering in bonfires as community leaders look on while at the same time those exact titles are selling faster than ever. We are familiar with the descriptions of the distribution network of physical books crashing, sinking, and burning. This too, has implications for book culture.
For books that begin their lives rare (in small print runs, or due to editorial neglect, or as modest democratic multiples, or as one-of-a-kind objects), there is an extra sensitivity to the changes of tide in distribution. In this course, prepare to engage with these issues and more with our brilliant guest speakers!

—Sean Pessin, CalRBS Project Manager

Instructors and instructional session abstracts:

Day 1 – Led by Aaron Salik


Let’s take a rare behind the scenes look at TALAS, which has been supplying bookbinding and archival supplies since 1962. This will cover both a tour of the operation, with visual and physical exploration of tools and materials used in bookbinding and the book arts. We will use this as a launch pad for conversation about procurement; including finding, sourcing, and relationship building with the thousands of small vendors we have around the globe for specialty and fascinatingly rare and usual materials. We will also discuss how artists, bookbinders, and conservators choose materials for their work and the role TALAS plays in helping enable this.

Day 2 – Asynchronous Session

Day 3 – Led by Beldan Sezen


In this four hour long session we’ll dive into the world of artist book making, visual story telling and interdisciplinary collaboration. After an introduction into my approach of (to?) artists books and sequential art, we briefly discuss material usage before we spend the second half of the session with actually making books.

Day 4 – Led by Lucy Yu


How I Started My Bookstore with 3 Glasses of Wine and a Google Search

In conversation with Sean Pessin, Lucy Yu will talk about how she opened up the first Asian-American sole female owned bookstore in NYC with no prior experience. Yu and Me Books focuses on immigrant stories and wants to showcase the wide diversity of narratives within the community. She will be honest about all the mistakes she made and pushing past self doubt to do something she believes in.

Day 5 – Asynchronous Session