Tuesday, February 28, 2017

East-west connections captured in Codex

Book designer Lu Jingren (above, below) makes a splash at Codex.

Earlier this month, books—and their makers—took center stage in the Bay Area for Codex, the global draw for binders, collectors, and just plain admirers of the world's oldest communications device.

This time the biennial happening took as its theme "the art of the book in China," so even though I've been meaning to attend Codex for years, this particular edition proved irresistible. With boxes of my mass-produced trade paperback China Under the Covers in tow (the irony), I roamed the lanes of the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, ogling handsomely printed tomes (one was $18,000) in languages from French to Chinese and Italian to Hebrew, hand-bound and lovingly presented.

Codex exhibitors show how books take many forms.

From the first slide on, noted and prolific Chinese book designer Lu Jingren gave a gleeful overview of his oeuvre, both at the Codex Symposium and then at a reception at the Book Club of California, which I've always longed to visit. At the symposium we also heard about Diamond Leaves, a massive Beijing book exhibition that brought the spotlight to a heretofore neglected field.

I came home abuzz about books, and with two retailers recruited to carry China Under the Covers. You can still order copies direct from me at the links listed in the next post, or click on over to Oak Knoll Books, which specializes in "books about books." C'mon, you know you want some.

Attendees of Lu Jingren's talk get
a feel for modern Chinese books.