Artist Books 3.0

Where artists' books and the book arts meet online...



21st Century Book

A group to discuss and contextualise traditional publishing formats for artists’ books and also quantify how artists are using new technologies as publishing tools.

Members: 130
Latest Activity: on Friday

Background to this Discussion

We believe that content is paramount for any artist’s book, yet format is also part of its context. We are currently working on a 2-year AHRC funded project ( at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England, UK, where our aim is to create a manifesto for a canon of the 21st Century artist’s book.

This discussion will form part of the related publications, which as a whole, we hope will illustrate and contextualise all formats of artists’ publishing. The study will consider the traditional publishing formats for artists’ books and assess their potential for future expansion within the field. We also aim to quantify how artists are using new technologies and screen-based media as publishing tools.

In the UK we are hosting seminars and a conference, organising an exhibition and running free publishing day surgeries for artists as part of the project. We are also interviewing artists, librarians, collectors, publishers, curators, educators and students around the world. These will all be added to our website, which we are regularly updating ( and where we are also conducting an online survey that we invite you to join.

Johanna Drucker stated in 2005 that "…we don't have a good, specific, descriptive vocabulary on which to form our assessment of book works.” (see the whole article online at Critical issues/Exemplary works, Johanna Drucker, The Bonefolder, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2005).

We would like to address some of these problems with input from the international community, and will publish all our results as freely and accessibly as possible. The questions for the discussion start with What will this terminology be? We think that perhaps “book arts” or “artists’ books” have become too small an umbrella; perhaps “artists’ publications” would give us a better heading to start classifying and contextualising the field.

Wouldn’t it be great if a book artist could go anywhere and say what kind of book they made, and everyone they met would understand exactly what they meant? So, perhaps to put it simply, this is what we are trying to do, to make a proposal for an international language; a contextual descriptor for any type of artist’s book.

We are really keen to hear your views. The most efficient way of doing this is to start the discussion online and we will do our best to monitor and keep the threads going regularly.

Please note: Before you do join in the discussion, please be aware that this is part of a research study, and the comments made in this public domain could be used as part of our research findings free online publication (accredited to you) available from in 2010. For further details on the project please visit:

Discussion Forum

Defining the book.

Started by Tom Sowden. Last reply by Charles Brownson Mar 3, 2012. 12 Replies

Artists' Books or Artists' Publications?

Started by Tom Sowden. Last reply by Pickaxe Publishing Jun 22, 2011. 40 Replies

Theorizing the artists book

Started by Charles Brownson. Last reply by Dawn Redwood Jun 23, 2010. 7 Replies

Comment Wall

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of 21st Century Book to add comments!

Comment by Sarah Bodman on September 22, 2008 at 20:59
Hi everyone and thank you for joining already!
We kick off this Wednesday 24th September and look forward to talking to you.
Sarah and Tom
Comment by malcolm enright on September 22, 2008 at 19:43
I did the survey and posted to Sarah this time last week, I've also downloaded the above schematic and altered it to reflect my experience so far, as requested. I do hope that each member of the discussion does the same (and lets see how this takes the research into newer forms of the artist book) . . .
Comment by Tom Sowden on September 19, 2008 at 21:20
Please join this group and help us with our latest project (please see web address above for more details). We will be starting a discussion on Wednesday 24th September.

Members (130)


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Available to everyone: Robert Jacks & Printed Matter 

10 September - 24 October 2016

Printed Matter is pleased to announce Available to Everyone: Robert Jacks and Printed Matter, curated by Peter Anderson.

The exhibition presents two connected bodies of material: a survey of artists’ books by Australian painter, sculptor and bookmaker Robert Jacks (1942-2014), and an extensive selection of publications drawn from Jacks’ own collection, many of which were purchased from Printed Matter in the early years of the organization.




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