Making books is a work of art compared to writing.


Making books is a work of art compared to writing.

When was the last time you picked up a book, really see how it was made: the font, the feeling of the paper, and the way the text was displayed on the page? Today, when people can read on their mobile phones, some books are never even written on paper.

Once, collection was an art, as delicate and unique as the words it presented. In some places, like Larkspur in Kentucky, it still is.

For more than four decades, Grey Zeitz has been working on a book at two storeys near monterey. He works with the country’s best writers, including Wendell berry and bobby Ann mason, whose raxpur press publishes only a few editions a year.

Zeitz, 69, showed me his 1915 Chandler&Price printing press, saying: “I used to have one. He cut paper on another machine that began in the late 19th century.

Zeitz left the university of Kentucky in the winter of 1974 and completed an English degree half a semester away. He has been studying letterpress printing – a separate printing process that impresses high quality paper – he wants to make beautiful books, especially poetry. At the time, the printing process was disappearing as printers turned to faster offset printing.

But for Ms. Zeitz, the moment seemed right. At first he didn’t need electricity or indoor plumbing. He will grow tobacco and sell it to calves. Kentucky writers will feature.

Later, in order to pay the bills, he added a small print job. “My wife told me,” gray, you can either start doing these work-print jobs — or you’ll have to leave to get a job.”

He started accepting business CARDS and wedding announcements. “It’s fun for me, too.”

At the time, monterrey was attracting hippies, musicians, artists and candle-makers. In their beginning in the autumn festival held in flax, s&p, people from all over the country to see books created Zeitz – touch and feel their handmade binding, see Larkspur in the page’s pursuit of perfection.

His friend Jack Campbell, who works in industrial design, said: “the texture and lightness of the whole concept, like the book itself, has a quality of the senses.

Gray’s home is in monterey, Kentucky.

Noah Adams/NPR.

Gabrielle Fox is a professional spreader who has done a lot of high-end work for Larkspur. Every summer, she teaches at the American bookbinding academy in Colorado.

“The book they started selling to students was Larkspur,” she says. “Students come to the school from all over the world.”

Gray zeitz sat on the porch of his two dogs.

Noah Adams/NPR.

Zeitz has a full-time employee: Leslie Shane. She said: “I just made 20 little poems written by Erik Reece. “The full moon is called an animal, and now I’m just cutting them.

Larkspur can only publish four books a year, possibly two years behind. If Gray Zeitz knows how to use a computer, he can open the home page of Larkspur and see the cover of 100 books on his shelves.

Some are priced at $200, but the news media is known for books that sell for $20 or $25.

In another store, Grey Zeitz showed me the type he led — each letter and space made by hand. “When the ink is ready, we’ll put it on the printing press and show us what we have.”

At the end of the day, he closed his shop and went up the hill, his house in a purple color.

This is a quiet house; Joan died four years ago. His two dogs were playing in the stream.

“Well, I’m not going to retire,” he said. “If I’m retired, I’m just printing books, so I might as well stay and do business.”


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