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It was February of 2013. I walked into the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California, following the signs to the “Codex Book Fair and Symposium”…

I had just handed in my resignation notice to my then-current employer, where I was selling software – and hating every moment of it. I had made the decision to make a career leap. A rather HUGE career leap – from selling software to being a bookseller. So I wanted to check out what this “Codex” thing was all about.

The hall was a cacophony of sights and sounds:  the glass wall with a view of the Harbour, soaring skyward, let in so much natural light it was like being outdoors on a warm spring day. Thousands of voices were talking, exclaiming, sharing, filled with delight and the joy of the discovery of the unexpected.

As I walked down aisle after aisle of “artist books” I was overwhelmed with the beauty and imagination I saw before me, at every table. Books that were… well, more like art than books. But clearly books. And therefore something I could relate to, although the conceptions and materials and design were new and fresh and incredibly lovely.

Fragments of Parmenides

The Fragments of Parmenides


OK, fast-forward a few years. I’m now happily cataloguing books, among them, some books from a Bay-Area printer, Peter Koch, of whom I had heard but had, as of then, not had the pleasure of meeting. As I examined his 2003 publication The Fragments of Parmenides I was struck again with the beauty of what I had before me: everything was sheer perfection, the paper, the binding, the design, the typography – each part, in and of itself, wonderful – but the harmonious entirety was breath-taking. What I discovered in my cataloging this book was that Parmenides was a pre-Socratic philosopher most of whose work exists only in fragments. Somehow – in some way – Peter Koch and the rest of the team working on this book had taken an antiquarian text and breathed into it new life.

I hope this short story encourages you to join us for a very special discussion we will have on Friday, March 5, at 5:00 pm PST / 8:00 pm EST, with Peter Koch and Gerald Cloud, on the Intersection of Artists’ and Antiquarian Books. Peter and Gerald will talk about objects that have for nearly 50 years informed Peter’s printing and his love of the book as a material object.

It’s bound to be eye-opening and informative – please join us!


-- Laurelle Swan

Proprietor, Swan’s Fine Books


California Virtual Book Fair

The California Virtual Book Fair takes place March 4-6 at www.abaa/org/vbf...