March 15, 2006

Why Chapbooks Rule

Chapbooks are small hand-made books that artistically enhance the literary text. They come out of a tradition of literary “pamphlets” that date back centuries and allowed an author to distribute their work locally to receive critical feedback and spark debate. In the 18th & 19th centuries

“printers sold their chapbooks to itinerant peddlers called 'chapmen', who in turn sold them to consumers. These chapmen, who hawked all manner of small goods for their livelihood, were often roguish figures who lived on the margins of society. [Of course, nowadays there are chap-women as well.] In general, chapbooks were inexpensive publications designed for the poorer literate classes. They were typically printed on a single sheet of low-quality paper, folded to make eight, sixteen, or twenty-four pages, though some examples were longer still.”

For more on chapbooks go here.

Some chapbook presses include book thug, leaf press, mother tongue press, greenboathouse books, above/ground press, belladonna*, nomados, and coach house books.

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