Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Recently I came upon
Anne Waldman has been much published in the small press world and this is a perfect example of it. 21 pages, staple-bound. Cover photo of Ms. Waldman holding a book. It’s a great collection of work. On the last page of the chapbook is a listing of her previously published work, and the last item on that listing is Makeup On Empty Space. This collection is credited as the last book produced by Toothpaste Press in 1984.
Earlier I posted a link to an interview with Allan Kornblum, the editor of Coffee House Press who had previously founded and was the editor of Toothpaste Press. In the interview he mentioned how Makeup on Empty Space was the last book produced by Toothpaste Press. I got a copy of that book and was a bit surprised to be holding a perfect bound book of 75 pages.
Toothpaste Press ended and Coffee House Press began and the transition had actually taken place earlier than the Waldman book, I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact moment (yet) but at some moment along their publishing path, Kornblum and his staff ceased producing chapbooks in favor of books with spines. “Normal” books. I understand that for financial reasons it makes perfect sense to make the leap to perfect bound books. But what is lost along the way is the immediacy of a chapbook.
Coffee House Press books are slick by comparison. In this, “slick” is not a compliment. A certain degree of integrity is lost when a publisher abandons a style that has made them unique for one that makes them profitable. While I seek out and collect Toothpaste Press chapbooks, I don’t do the same for Coffee House books. Even this final book on Toothpaste, this Waldman book, has character. The cover is matte pink cover stock with a letterpress feel to it. The tell-tale Toothpaste Press logo appears for the last time on the back cover. It’s an end of an era. And in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “so it goes”.
And so it goes, new presses spring forth with new energy. On into the future!