A chapbook is a short book (up to 40 pages) which is bound using a simple stitch or a stapler and often printed cheaply. Many poets and fiction writers have used chapbooks to distribute their own works, yet in the age of blogs and digital readers, why would you?
Though the internet provides a number of venues to publish and share written work, it comes with its own set of constraints, the first being presentation. Digital platforms come with set formats which alter and limit the way a text can be viewed. Self-printing and bookbinding, on the other hand, allow a writer to take control of the presentation of their works.
Reading written material on a screen, such as writing on a blog, creates a specific relationship with the writing. The computer both invites distraction and removes a sense of physical interaction with the work itself. The physicality of the chapbook, on the other hand, invites a different reading experience: something slower, more focused, and immersive.
If you would like to give your reader the experience of a book, an art object, or artifact, there is nothing more rewarding than printing and binding your book on your own. Not only will you be able to showcase the written material, but you can also bring attention to the artistry and craft of bookmaking itself. On the practical end, it’s much easier and cheaper to make books on your own. And what a lovely object you’ll have to distribute!
To get started:
Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader and InDesign all offer simple ways to arrange booklets in their print dialogues.
Here are some good resources for learning single and multiple-signature binding techniques:
For a tutorial and hands-on binding experience, come to the Writing and Communication Center’s Bookbinding Workshop on May 13 2014 at 3:30 pm in UW2-124.
Peer Consultants Travis Sharp, Laura Burger, Scott Brown and Aimee Harrison are also happy to assist in layout, content and binding through face-to-face and phone conferences.