Artist Books 3.0

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




A group to discuss book art in e-book form or any other computer/internet/screen based book form. From iphone books to twitter.

Members: 48
Latest Activity: Jan 3, 2017

Links to free artists' e-books:

Eleanor Dare's hybrid book project:

A Twitter e-book experiment by Abigail Thomas:

A link to another Twitter project by

A liberature e-book/hypertext/internet piece by Radosław

This is an interesting project I stumbled across:

Saw this advert for Alice in Wonderland interactive ebook for the ipad:


interesting e-marginalia project:


Institute for the Future of the Book:  and their open source e-book program: 


Charles Brownson ebooks:

Please send me (Abigail Thomas) a message with links to your books to add to this list, or post a comment below.

Discussion Forum

Kindle/Nook/Kobo etc... Artists' ebooks?

Started by Abigail Thomas. Last reply by Frespech Dec 10, 2011. 19 Replies

I have just bought the new Kindle; I know a book art friend who has made a Kindle artists' book, but wondered how and…Continue

Tags: book, art, digital, sony, kobo

iphone as an ebook reader

Started by Abigail Thomas. Last reply by Frespech Aug 13, 2011. 6 Replies

So has anyone used an iphone as an ebook reader yet? Is it any good? Is there potential for making good book art with, or for, them? And has anyone actually made any yet?

Tags: book, art, books, artists, ebook

SMS, MMS (Mobile phone) books

Started by Abigail Thomas. Last reply by Abigail Thomas Jan 25, 2011. 3 Replies

Was trying to find some info on mobile phone (non smart-phone) art; book art or otherwise. Google has failed me a bit. I know there must be some artists who have used this media in the past or…Continue

Tags: phones, mobile, mms, sms

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Comment by Lisa Iversen on December 10, 2011 at 0:58

It's also a subject of interest on the Book Arts Listserv today. 

Comment by Charles Brownson on December 10, 2011 at 0:19

No sooner asked... Alicia Bailey posted on Facebook the link to some people asking these very questions.

Comment by Charles Brownson on December 10, 2011 at 0:07

I wonder if we should shift this discussion over to the 21st Century Book group? Pickaxe, I'm not going to reply point-by-point in order to keep my post short. Abigail asked where to find people who are experimenting with artists e-books and the question has become "What are we looking for?" Your critique of the turning page simulation exposes a big piece of the problem: that we are in the very early stages of a technology shift, that book artists aren't up to date on programming and design in this area, and that we are trying to talk about this with inherited terminology which is not always functional. Your reformulation of my reformulation as "what are we doing different that entitles us to claim a piece of the digital world as book art" is surely foundational when paired with your other question: why would we want to claim that piece in the first place? Leave the (now traditional)[!] book arts where they are and embark on a new expedition. The same thing happened to artists who called themselves painters and sculptors and so on when they got the urge to do things which came to be called installations, performance art, conceptual art and other uncertain designations. Looking back we can see that the sequence goes from imagining what to do to working out how to do it to what to call it. I don't think we've got beyond the first step, and we won't until someone presents us with compelling work -- work which asks important new questions now exposed and facilitated by the new technology. What entitles us to make claims to the technology as artists is the need to get past e-toys to something more sublime. Think cave art. So: who is working on this and what have they done and is it in any way compelling?

Comment by Pickaxe Publishing on December 9, 2011 at 23:00

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to diminish or discourage book artists from doing anything they do in any medium. I think your question is quite valid. To further your question, I would ask; "what would a book artist do with this medium/these mediums that differs from what an other practitioner/s would do with it". What is the sensibilty that differs? What are the cares, fascinations and anxieties which define someone who is commited to books, and not video, or painting, or installation.

Also, I would put this question back to you: Why is it necessarily about enlarging what book artists do and not a part of a larger discussion about what 'Art" is and possibly could be.

Why is it a problem for book artists to step out of the realm of "The Book" and explore other realms of expression? Is it that there is such a long tradition of justifying artist's books (as a form of "Art" with a capital 'A') that we have forgotten how to simply practice without justifying the form that it takes?

I am not trying to define what a book is or isn't either. That is not for me to decide. My view is that people are talking about well trodden forms of new media and 'new possibilities' without any understanding of what ground has been covered by other practitioners in that medium (albeit outside of "Art"), or what the nature and limitations of that medium are.

For example, there is some kind of romanticism for websites which play a"turning page" animation when you click on 'next page'. This kind of animation predates web pages and was included in many adventure games from the late 80's/early 90s. Even on the Amiga 500, games had animations of the "turning page" where a bit of parchment would turn to reveal more of the 'pirate' or other fantasy adventure you were experiencing/reading. This screen based animation was always a facsimile of the real to evoke something absent. To want to recreate this romantic notion of the "ancient omniscient text", as does the kindle and other reading devices, it is a fantasy device: that is where it came from. It is a simulacrum. If we want to approach these "new" mediums (and I say ""new"", as nothing is without its history, as is most of the 'currency' of forms we're discussing which is at stake) then we must look for ways to speak of truth, not facsimile. In this way, I see talking about books in these new forms as a fallacy, it is a black swan (being Aussie, I know the irony of the black swan).

An SMS will never be a book. A Blog is not a book. A Website is not a book. Why must we talk in these terms, if at all. What I am asking is why can't book artists talk about what they are doing within the context that they are operating. "I am a Book Artist who is making a work using telecommunication technology", rather than "I am making a book using SMS technology"? "I am making a web based book", could be; "I am a book artist working with online tech". I am asking to call a spade a spade. I feel sometimes this whole debate is fueled a certain level of ignorance to what has come before. These new forms are not without their own context and historical relevance. 

Why must we think and have a discourse of book arts which is limiting? Only as Book Artists? Only as making books and never engaging with new forms and ALWAYS relating to the book? Why can't we be multi-disciplinary practitioners that bring a certain sensibility to new forms, with centuries of accumulated experience passed down from predecessors, tactile desires and needs, regard for traditional methods that are proven, but experience enough to disregard them when required. I make books and other things.

Like you, Charles, I am excited by what book artists will bring, but I don't agree with what I perceive sometimes to be a 'colonisation' of new forms in the name of the book, or looking for the book where it is not. Can't we get outside our own form to see what ground we are operating on now. I think we need to watch the Language we use around these forms, especially when our peers are trying to define a "canon" of Artist's Books.

New tech is great, but I do not think it is a "book" per se.

Is it that artists book practitioners struggle with the breakdown of their identity when the form  of the "book" is threatened? Is this "threat" perceived also to be aimed at them? I do not see things this way. I think we must prescribe to a multi modal identity as practitioners if we are to proceed through this black forest of mediums and technologies. Not as book artists, but simply,.. as artists (who happen to really love books and hope they never go away, and they won't if I have anything to do about it...)

Comment by Charles Brownson on December 9, 2011 at 15:27

Hmm. I'm not happy with either Pickaxe's attempt to define a book -- something which always leads into a morass -- nor Tim Mosely's and others attempts not to define it, simply pointing at what they do. Neither engages with the question, which I take to be "Is there something interesting a book artist can do with the digital (networked) medium which would enlarge what it is book artists do?" Probably there is. What? Will I know it when I see it? Probably not.

Comment by Pickaxe Publishing on December 9, 2011 at 13:43

I think it is not really appropriate to talk about websites as books, nor is it appropriate to talk about multimedia works as books. These kinds of things have a historicity of their own, and a context that they work within and come from that needs to be acknowledged. They are certainly the sons, daughters, neices, nephews and grandchildren of all things book, but to make this equation between them, I think is incorrect. Does anyone remeber the Multimedia CD Rom? I remeber encountering them circa (Windows) '95. They ended Encyclopedia Britannica and all kinds of subscription encyclopedias marketed toward Primary and Early secondary students. These were not books, but an extension or variant on. This kind of infotainment (in my view) was astounding at the time, and brought together artists across disciplines, researchers and writers etc to create them. My view is that Gaming culture has taken more of this ground in the past 20 years than 'books' have, and it is these other histories that need to be acknowledged if we are going to discuss new media correctly, and relevant to how book artists approach these new forms.

I am excited to look at these avenues as well, it is thoroughly interesting what people can and are doing, but forcing books into/onto this realm will not 'save them' nor make them more or less relevant. It will diversify the practices of book artists, but if we are to discuss this new field or have a theoretical discourse supporting/behind these new works, we must acknowledge that we are book artists entering another field. We need to know the history of these forms we are entering into. Book artists are getting explorative and that's great. However, I think the language is not quite correct, and a big chunk of history and development post computers is being overlooked, and probably under-researched.

I go back to Tim Mosely's comment, 'no matter what people call it, I will make the things I am making'. That is the way we should and need to proceed, I just think we need to be more particular about labels we ascribe to different kinds of work.

At an exhibition a few years back, Monica Oppen and I got into a thorough discussion about what a book was, and she had quite particular views on what that was. At the time I resisted and asserted that if it came from books it was book, but on reflection, I think she is correct. A book is a book as it has a certain form and History. Just like the new forms we are exploring, we just need the find the right context to situate and discuss different and diverse activities.

Perhaps another reason to explore the field under Publishing as Artistic Practice.

Comment by Charles Brownson on December 9, 2011 at 5:07

Websites as books. Well... I want some things I don't know how to make for myself. If each page is an image there are storage, bandwidth, and uploading issues. For any 3D elements I want software that lets the viewer rotate the object on all three axes. Animation software and some rudimentary skills would be nice, as well something to make a sound track with. And a working version should be transferable to a DVD. I find this daunting, but anything less seems thin and pale in comparison to the sensual luxury of the handmade book.

Comment by Charles Brownson on December 9, 2011 at 4:51
Comment by Abigail Thomas on March 20, 2011 at 7:53am
an open-source program that you can use to create e-books without having to know any programming: - i've not used it yet but would love to hear from anyone who has or uses something similar

Abigail -- I have recently started using Calibre. It will convert anything to anything. I give it a prepared html, but it will work on other inputs also. It's intended to manage a personal e-book collection, makes catalogs and so forth. As a shareware conversion tool it's simple and intuitive. I now offer books for all three e-readers to download and copy to the reader with no intermediaries. Wonderful. The work is all in the file prep -- formatting, visual refinements, links and bookmarks and contents, etc -- but that takes no programming, just an html editor, some knowledge of Word and file conversion.
Comment by Vésper Matos on December 9, 2011 at 4:03

I have tried to create an electronic book artist, which combines poetic writing with paint. painting and fusion Electone scanner manual work, and background music. the first project I called "abiotic" I also, edit various artists in the world in my country Portugal

Comment by Abigail Thomas on November 17, 2011 at 21:43

embarrassed by what Charles? I have just bought a new Kindle, wanting to experiment with it. There is nowhere where there is a clear list of artists' ebooks; maybe we should start one. . . 


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