When is a Book Not a Book? – September 2013 M&A Activity
What is it about paper that adds perceived value to our intellectual and artistic pursuits? The appeal of paper as a medium for communication endures and often adds to the meaning of the words and images we print on that paper. This was evident during my recent visit to MoMA’s PS1 annex in Long Island City, New York. Thousands of attendees mobbed The New York Art Book Fair, an exhibition of more than 280 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists and independent publishers from around the world. The “Book” was on center stage at this four day event, not for its content, rather as art itself.
Beginning around the mid-1970s, the concept of the Artist’s Book has developed in a reciprocal curve to the impact on printing by computer technologies including phototypography, Scitex image manipulation, and Mac page layout programs; and to the still evolving erosion of print by the forces unleashed by the internet. Many of the Artist’s Books on display were editions of one, some of which were “printed” on non-paper substrates such as fabric and copper sheeting, and others that were three-dimensional sculptures created by “carving” the pages of an otherwise normally produced book. In addition to these one-of-kind works, there were many examples of beautifully crafted limited editions–books printed using letterpress, as well as highly decorated and complex custom editions printed using the latest iGen and Indigo presses. The technology has changed, however the unique ability of paper to convey words, images and ideas was still wonderfully evident.
In another nod to the value of paper, Investcorp, a global asset manager with over ten billion dollars under its care, acquired Paper Source, a national retailer of “fine and artisanal papers, invitations and announcements, personalized and distinctive gifts, gift wrap, greeting cards, custom stamps, and a custom collection of envelopes and cards.” Investcorp’s investment speaks to the value they see long term in the ability of paper to convey something special about what’s written, printed, wrapped, and packaged on or in it.