The DART Interview Invite

By Peggy Roalf   Friday January 10, 2020

Working with books—creating, producing, selling, husbanding, archiving—is a dream come true. I can attest to that: my own habit began in childhood when I ran away from home for the first time at age 4.5 and headed straight for the library. I read everything I could get my hands on, from books and magazines to the Sears catalog that resided in the bathroom. I had my first library job in high school, followed by another while a student at The Cooper Union. As a graphic designer in my own studio, I gravitated towards text-oriented projects because as a serious hand letterer I was deeply into typographics.

Somewhere along the way I became an author and editor of books on art and photography, now a writer on those subjects in short form. So you can imagine the extent to which books occupy my mind and my space. Even worse, I became seriously involved with book arts, constantly creating one-off editions, custom sketchbooks and 3D oddities; try to imagine the volume of matter this can add to a small space. My apartment had to give up wall terrain to bookshelves over art; in the process of housing my stuff I became a better than average carpenter, having built numerous shelving units that don’t sag under the weight of doorstopper books. As I progressed I learned how to stagger the uprights and to double-thick the odd shelf to increase the spanning power of three-quarter-inch plywood.

My greatest achievement—the last before retiring my electric drill—is the unit that towers over my desk [above]. Precisely delineated to the last three-sixteenths of an inch to accommodate its holdings, the piece left me with no desire to ever purchase an off-the-shelf [ha!] unit. So I ceased buying books. I only let in what publishers send as review copies, and mostly pass them along afterwards. But I still own the first artbook I ever bought: a Skira edition of Degas dancers, with tipped-in plates and a natural linen cloth binding.

What I’m getting at is this: I get the obsession. With that in mind, the DART Interview page will soon host periodic installments of Pimp Your Bookcases, which first surfaced in 2014. So if you have a story to tell about your bookcases, please send a few photos to be considered for the series.

While awaiting the next round of interviews with publishers, librarians, editors, and writers, here's a selection from the first round. Cheers to 20/20 vision this year!



Deirdre Donohue's Photobookcases | August 13, 2014

PR: What is special about your bookcases?

DD: In 2009 we were searching for a new place in Harlem, and when I first saw the living room I had an extreme “EUREKA!” moment because there was an uninterrupted 28-foot wall, 11 feet high, with no windows! To me, it looked like the perfect place for wall-to-wall shelves to organize my art books, protecting them from direct sunlight and giving them room to breathe.

I had just been cataloging my home library, and had formed 6 boxes of duplicates and books I was no longer in love with, and so I sold those to raise the money to realize the shelves.

My friend and colleague, Scrap Wrenn, recommended her partner, JoAnna Scaramuzzo, who designed and built this amazing wall unit, which is pure and beautiful [and removable, as we are renters]. She loaded in and installed it all with a screw gun the night before the move, and so everything smelled like pine when we arrived the next morning. …

PR: How do you organize your photobooks?

DD: The first couple of vertical rows are essays and theory and criticism, the next two are works on art movements and collections, then there are monographs generally by artist’s last name, but not exact because the shelves are varying heights, so they dance around alpha order a bit. After that, are books on photobooks and other publications, and then cinema and, finally, a section on New York books [with a growing Harlem section]. Not everything fits in the living room shelves.

Bookmaking, Japan, textiles and needlework are in my studio; cookbooks and philosophy in the kitchen; and Czech and Slovak art and history, literature, artist books, enigmatic books [mainly thrift store finds], and DVDs are in the bedroom. Cinema and New York will be moving out of the living room soon, as I need more shelf space! …

PR: Have your shelves ever collapsed under their weight? Have you had any other serious problems with your shelves?

DD: Unfortunately, our very old building is saggy floored and soft walled, so some tinkering had to be done to everything weight-bearing before it was secure and level, but now everything on the shelves is safe and sound, and a perpetual source of immense pleasure and discovery. [Photos: Christian Erroi] pimpbookcase



Bruno Ceschel’s Photobook Cases | July 30, 2014

PR: How you organize your photobooks? Do you have a system?

BC: I have different bookshelves at work and at home. In the Self Publish, Be Happy office I keep all of the self-published book collection, which is comprised of something close to 1,500 publications, all organized by author alphabetically (first photo).

The next photo depicts the table in my living room where I keep some of my own books. The table is very much like those you find in bookstores, organized by me (piling up new books I bought) and rearranged by people that come by and consult it. It is a sort of a display in flux.

PR: What is the first photobook you ever bought and why did it catch your attention?

BC: It wasn’t really a photobook, but more an illustrated book—an Italian edition of Scouting for Boys by Baden Powell. My mom bought it for me and I wanted it because I was a good boy scout.

PR: Have your shelves ever collapsed under the weight of your books? Or have your photobooks caused any other type of disaster?

BC: No real accidents that I can remember, though because I have moved house and office so many times, there have been a lot of burst boxes and back pains.

PR: What is the next photobook you plan to purchase?

BC: One new book from my friend at The Ice Plant titled Bad Luck, Hot Rocks by Ryan Thompson & Phil Orr. It should be out in the next few weeks.


Read these pages—and the entire series—in their entirety here

Editor’s note: 10 x10 Photobooks is hosting a pop-up photobook sale on Sunday, January 19th, in their LIC studio. Info:
@ Ten10 Studios
10-10 47th Road 
Long Island City, NY 11101
(between Vernon Blvd. and 11th Street) 

 pimp bookcase


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now