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Bibliotheca Librorum Apud Artificem

Library for the artist's book, Sydney Australia

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About the Bookwork categories

The books have been categorized as an aid to explore the collection. Some of the categories are recognised by book artists and commentators internationally, others are completely new, created for this site. The categories in which the books have been placed are not intended to be definitive or inflexible or even 'right;. It is rare that a book can be placed neatly in one category. The majority of works are in at least two categories. Some books are crossover works in that two media are used equally in the work.

Categorizing the books in this way could be considered contentious and restrictive but that is not the intention here. Please use the categories as an explorative tool to help build an understanding of the diversity of the genre of books by artists.


Drawn/Painted Books
Harking back to the manuscript, the works in this category are hand painted or drawn and/or written. They are often unique or produced understandably in small editions. They are not reproductions of painted or drawn works. Some works are crossover works.
Printmakers' Books
Because traditionally printmaking was strongly linked to image production for books the link between the printmaker and the book is obvious. The works in this category have been produced by printmakers using various hand printing techniques.
Relief Print Books
Relief printing is the traditional print medium of the book. These are books that have been printed using woodcuts, wood engravings and/or linocuts and in some cases letterpress type, either metal and/or wood. Photopolymer plates can be used as relief printing blocks.
Serigraph Print Books
Serigraphy is the official term for prints made using a (silk) screen or screen printing. Also included in this category because of the use of the screen are books with paper pulp printed image and text, a process developed by Tim Mosely of Silverwattle Bookfoundry.
Intaglio Print Books
Etchings, engravings, aquatints and drypoints are all intaglio printing processes. Photopolymer plates can also be printed intaglio. Books using collographs have also been included in this category.
Multi-media Books
Many books are produced using different print media but the books in this category include atypical book processes, such as sewing machine stitching and typewriting, and non-traditional materials such as fabric, plastic, sandpaper and, in a few cases, found objects.
Small Press Books
Artists and writers who have chosen to produce their work under a press name are included here. The word 'press' is flexible as it doesn't necessarily mean that all works are hand printed by the artist as one might expect from a small press, but also indicates a self-publication or production.
Letterpress Books
Letterpress, a relief process, once the mainstay for printing text, is still in use or has been revived in some small press establishments. The books included here have been in part or in entirety printed using letterpress equipment.
Rubber Stamped Books
The rubberstamp, one of the most direct means of printing, has been used in these works, in some as the sole medium and in others as a crucial adjunct.
Offset Books
Offset printing, a high quality, high speed printing process, has been the most common medium of mass produced books and magazines for decades. Recently the quality of digital printing has almost reached similar standards.
Planographic Print Books
Lithography, originally printing from limestone and then from specially prepared zinc or aluminum plates, was developed in Germany in the late 18th-century. Soon after came chromolithographic printing. Offset printing is also a planographic process. Chemical release transfer printing is also included in this category.
Hundreds of books contain photographs, however in the photobook, even those with text, the photo carries the primary message or narrative of the book. Also included are books in which the photograph carries equal weight to the text. Some works are crossover works.
Digital Books
Although it is common for a variety of digital processes to be used in pre-press work regardless of the final print process, they are also used for books that will be digitally printed. The works in this category are from inkjet, laser and giclée printers.
Cut down from the term 'democratic multiple', multiples are books that have been produced presumably in large unlimited editions using industrial, usually offset printing methods. There are no restrictions on the future printing of new editions.
Scrolls & Concertina Books
In essence the structure of a scroll and a concertina book is the same, except the former is rolled and the latter is folded. For this reason they are placed together here even though the dynamic of reading differs between the two.
Poetry/Proses/Text Works
These books have poems or a prose text as the core of the work, which might or might not be paired with graphics or photographs. They are in some cases examples of the artist and/or writer as publisher.
Verbo-visual Books
Linked with the concepts of concrete poetry, the letter and/or word is seen and used as a graphic form; meaning, sound and shape begin to converge or diverge. The silent code of punctuation can be upset and morphed into abstract marks and patterns.
Image-graphic Books
Not necessarily without text, books in this category rely primarily on the drawings, graphics, diagrams, marks, etc., as the carrier of the narrative and content. Some works are crossover works.
Dynamic Page Books
Books without text or image bypass every category. Although every book is a dynamic structure, these works have had everything else stripped away, so there is nothing left but the dynamism. This category also includes those books where the paper itself is the subject of the book.
From the word magazine, the zine is an area of fringe publishing that uses the photocopier as its printing machine. Committed zinesters publish using the magazine format of an ongoing series.
Chapbooks could be considered to be the zines of yesteryear though the chapbooks here are modern small publications which don't quite fit completely into the zine genre.
Books in this category have been printed using a photocopier. Once gritty and low quality, the technology of the photocopier has become progressively more sophisticated and with the advent of digital source material they are no longer purely 'photo'copiers.
Illustrated Books
The most usual engagement of the artist with the book is through illustration of a text. Like any category the dividing lines can be blurry. So called, high art tends to shun illustrative works even though they can be masterpieces in their own right.
The books in this category contain a collection of otherwise individual works, by the same artist or by a group of artists, usually on a related theme, and published together.
Catalogue Works
Although complete in themselves and not simply a list of the exhibited works, the books in this category are produced as an adjunct to an exhibition. Most importantly they can be read without any reference to the exhibition that was.
Flip Books
The flip book connects to the earliest motion picture productions. The books in this category are mini films.
Altered Books
Not necessarily book objects, altered books have been remade from another book or use pages from another book. Usually the remaking means that the book will be read differently from the original, yet carries references to the now underlying work.
Unbound Works
Until the early 19th century books were sold unbound and the purchaser saw to the binding. The tradition of the unbound book was once again picked up almost 100 years later by the French publishers of livres illustrés. However, artists have used it structurally to indicate a looseness of the narrative. It also allows for the possibility for the work to be exhibited.
Experimental Works
Without doubt the most unusual category, these works are experimental and have an intrinsic narrative quality. They might use text and/or book materials. Including these works heightens the distinction between the definitions of the words 'narrative', 'text' and 'book'.



Hintergrund (1928)
Images/graphics: George Grosz