4,000 Years of Miniature Books (thx SF)
Robert C. Bradbury states in Twentieth Century United States Miniature Books that “The renaissance of miniature book publishing and collecting began in 1960 when Achille J. St. Onge published the first issue of the Miniature Book Collector.” While some might question so specific a beginning of a trend, the general import is undoubtable. Bradbury further documents and enumerates what is beyond question the most important development in the field of miniature books in the second half of the twentieth century. The significance of small presses, fine presses, and the producers of artists’ books has grown to the point that it is the most important feature of miniature book publishing at the beginning of the twenty-first century. While commercial miniatures are still in production throughout the world, carefully designed small press books, often printed from hand-set type, but also from photographically produced plates or computer graphics programs, are the center of attention. These are often hand bound by the publishers, and in some cases are printed on paper also made by the same craftspeople. This approach to miniature books views them as uniquely crafted artifacts to be read and enjoyed for their texts, and for the skills which went into their production. (cite)
Then there’s The Grolier Club exhibit, “on view from May16 – July 28, 2007, Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures.” You can get the catalog in deluxe hardcover (what Steve saw while window-shopping) or normal hardcover.
I wonder though… about trends. I feel like mini-books are gaining popularity in the avant-garde (“post-avant”) poetry world. Is this the case, or am I simply ignorant of a longer tradition? How is “tradition” distinct from “fashion”? If there are, for instance, 4,000 years of miniature books, that doesn’t negate the idea that book sizes can come in and out of fashion. The size of books certainly affects what goes into them. Is there a trend toward small/short poems? The intense popularity of the vulgarized haiku; short forms like sonnets; the short poems of many poets my age… would indicate so. But movements are only where you’re looking.