08 April 2008

The Stinehour Press and the end of delight

The late August Heckscher, a prominent figure in the arts and an aficionado of fine printing, once gave a lecture at the Boston Athenaeum in which he compared letterpress printing to wind-powered boats, both antiquated technologies that people cling to just because they like them. "They have passed out of the economics of necessity," he said, "and into the economics of delight."
We printers in the marketplace of necessity face a steady erosion of our trade by the Internet and cheap foreign labor. But the Stinehour Press seemed to exist on another plane, the marketplace of delight, serving the customer for whom nothing but a book, and a well-made book, will do. The closing of the Stinehour Press, inevitable as it may be, is heartbreaking. It's like watching the last sailboat sink.

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