THE NEW ART
OF MAKING BOOKS
In order to read the
old art, knowing the alphabet is enough.
In order to read the new art one must apprehend the book as a structure,
identifying its elements and understanding their function.
One might read old art
in the belief that one understands it, and be wrong.
Such a misunderstanding is impossible in the new art. You can read only
if you understand.
In the old art all books
are read in the same way.
In the new art every book requires a different reading.
In the old art, to read
the last page takes as much time as to read the first one.
In the new art the reading rhythm changes, quickens, speeds up.
In order to understand
and to appreciate a book of the old art, it is necessary to read it thoroughly.
In the new art you often do NOT need to read the whole book.
The reading may
stop at the very moment you have understood the total structure of the book,
The new art makes it
possible to read faster than the fast-reading methods.
There are fast-reading
methods because writing methods are too slow.
To read a book, is to perceive sequentially its structure.
The old art takes no
heed of reading.
The new art creates specific reading conditions.
The farthest the old
art has come to, is to bring into account the readers, which is going too
The new art doesn't
discriminate between its readers; it does not address itself to the book-addicts
or try to steal its public away from TV.
In order to be able
to read the new art, and to understand it, you don't need to spend five
years in a Faculty of English.
In order to be appreciated,
the books of the new art don't need the sentimental and/or intellectual
complicity of the readers in matters of love, politics, psychology, geography,
The new art appeals
to the ability every man possesses for understanding and creating signs
and systems of signs.
The New Art
of Making Books by Ulises Carrión was published in
Kontexts no. 6-7, 1975, and was printed by the Center
for Book Arts in 1975 at the request of the author and distributed free to the
Center's members. Ulises started the artists' bookstore Other Books and So
in Amsterdam in 1975. He died in 1989. This essay is also reprinted in Joan Lyons, Ed. ARTISTS' BOOKS: A Critical Anthology And Sourcebook,
Visual Studies Workshop, 1985, 1993. and also reprinted in Guy
Carrión. We have won! Haven't we?, Amsterdam, 1992.