The book is co-created by writer and reader. The reader fills in the white spaces between the author’s words with their imagination.

—Kate Durbin

Kate Durbin is an artist and writer. Her books include the forthcoming HOARDERS (Spork 2019), E! Entertainment (Wonder), The Ravenous Audience (Akashic Books), and the collaboration ABRA (1913 Press). ABRA is also a free, interactive iOS app that is “a living text,” which won the 2017 Turn On Literature Prize for electronic literature. In 2015, Durbin was the Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence in Brisbane, Australia. Her work has been featured in Art Forum, The New York Times, Art in America, and elsewhere.

The book is never ‘the book.’ Every book is one specific stretch of human potential that invites other stretches and others to stretch. The tensions generated between stretches and stretchers is what matters.

—Nick Thurston

Nick Thurston (b. 1982) is the author of two books, one chapbook, one pocketbook, and co-author of two more pocketbooks, the latest of which is being translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish. Since 2006 he has been co-editor of the independent artists’ book publishing imprint information as material (York). Since 2012 he has been on the faculty of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. His print and sculptural works are held in public and private collections around Europe, and his bookworks are collected by the V&A (London), Tate (London) and MoMA (New York) amongst other institutions. In early 2015, the Electronic Poetry Center (University of Buffalo and University of Pennsylvania) made the most comprehensive sample archive of his poems, short writings, interviews and book extracts (2006-2014) yet compiled digitally available for free.

In the most traditional sense, a book is portable, intimate, personal and interactive. Conversely, it can be loud, two-dimensional and off-limits. A book might consist of pages or not and words or images, or neither. As an interactive device, experiencing a book is often a performative act. Some books are highly revered while others are considered dangerous. The versatility of a book is that its sculptural qualities can be exploited in a manner that relays an idea on multiple levels. At its most powerful, the ability to discern the content of a book can bring personal esteem or destruction, incite action, or provide revelation.

—Alisa Banks

Alisa Banks is a visual artist whose work centers on issues concerning identity. Her work, which often references traditional crafts, incorporates fibers, plants, and other found materials. Alisa’s work has been exhibited in venues in the U.S., Canada, England, and Laos, and is housed in several private and public collections, including the U.S. Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Museum, and the New York Public Library. Alisa received her BS from Oklahoma State University and her MFA from Texas Woman’s University. She lives in Dallas, TX.

Books are the sum total of all of their shared and co-extensive texts and objects—translations, interpretations, adaptations, illustrations, dreams, instantiations, paperworks, etc.

—Patsy Baudoin

After retiring from the MIT Libraries in January 2016, where she was most recently digital humanities librarian and librarian to the Media Lab at MIT, Dr. Patsy Baudoin established her own developmental-editing and translating business. Past experience includes co-managing Schoenhof’s Foreign Books, documentary filmmaking, TV production, software project management, teaching French language and literature, and consulting in digital archiving. She has edited and translated books and articles, and enjoys writing book reviews, too. She is one of the co-authors of 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1));:GOTO10 (MIT Press, 2012).

The Book is 1. a technology that applies and advances material and sensory knowledge and experience, 2. a culture, i.e. a process or ongoing occurrences involving human communications. It survives best when physically disseminated as widely as possible or when singular enough to achieve rarefied status.

—Tate Shaw

Tate Shaw is an artist and writer living in Rochester, NY. Cuneiform Press published a collection of his essays on artists’ books, Blurred Library (2017), and his books are in international collections including the Tate Modern, London, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale Special Collections, George Eastman Museum Library, amongst others. Shaw is the Director of Visual Studies Workshop, and an Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Brockport where he directs the MFA in Visual Studies at VSW.

A book is a hairy, heavy thing that used to be made of skin. It doesn’t move when you press it. But everything falls away if you dip your head in. A book likes company, a kind of order understandable to hand and eye. A library, like a person, can die. It can be dismembered, and its parts redistributed, but that means it’s dead, just as with a person. Even if one part continues to live in—and bring life to—another body. The empty library seems full of possibility, as long as it stands. Its acoustics are rich. The alcoves designed for books now house conversation, and solitude.

—Mairéad Byrne

Mairéad Byrne is Professor of Poetry + Poetics at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, teaching courses in Sound Poetry, Visual Poetry, Digital Poetics, Material Poetics, Contemporary Poetry, and poetry workshops. She has published six collections, including Famosa na sua cabeça (2015), selected and translated by Dirceu Villa, and runs couscous, a peripatetic performance series of diverse poetries.

BOOK. s. [boc, Sax.] 1. A volume in which we read or write. 2. A particular part of a work. 3. The register in which a trader keeps an account. 4. In books. In kind remembrance. 5. Without book. By memory.

VOLUME. s. [volumen, Lat.] 1. Something rolled, or convolved. 2. As much as seems convolved at once. 3. A book.

WORK. S. [werk, Dutch.] 1. Toil; labour. 2. A slate of labour. 3. Bungling attempt. 4. Flowers or embroidery of the needle. 5. Any fabrick or compages of art. 6. Action; feat; deed. 7. Anything made. 8. Management, treatment.

COMPAGES. S. [Lat.] A substance of many parts united.

BOOKFUL. a. Crowded with undigested knowledge.

BOOKMATE. s. Schoolfellow.

—Brian Reed

Brian Reed is the Milliman Endowed Chair of Humanities and the Chair of the Department of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of three books, most recently Nobody’s Business: Twenty-First Century Avant-Garde Poetics (2013), and more than thirty articles and essays on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics.

A book is the flesh between flesh, a hard text sculpture from soft text immensities, the staged performance of time, a tangible glance of minds, the desire to speak other.

—Lisa Samuels

Lisa Samuels is the author of fifteen books of poetry, memoir, and prose—mostly poetry—including Anti M (2013), Tender Girl (2015)Symphony for Human Transport (2017), and Foreign Native (2018). She also publishes essays and soundworks as well as collaborating with composers, working with film, and editing books, recently the anthology A TransPacific Poetics (2017, with co-editor Sawako Nakayasu). Living in Aotearoa/New Zealand since 2006 and having also lived in the Middle East, Europe, Malaysia, and the US, where she was born, has made transnationalism fundamental in her ethics and imagination. Associate Professor of English and Drama at The University of Auckland, Lisa lives with her partner and son in a house surrounded by trees.


Book: a set of pages written or printed on both sides (recto and verso), bound, for the most part, on the left and placed inside hard or paper covers. The spine (the external part of the binding) usually contains the name of the book and its author and identifies the book on library shelves and in bookshops. A book is a solid object: it has height, width, and volume, and hence we continue to yearn for books even in this digital age because we can hold a book in our hands and grasp its totality. Electronic books are fine for travel, but I really don’t like reading books on Kindle or my iPhone otherwise; it’s too difficult to go back and forth and to reread. Books vary enormously as to quality of paper, print font, layout, and illustrative material: all of which contribute to the meaning of the book in question. But not all books are valuable: 9/10 of those currently published in the U.S.—e.g. political exposés, but also many novels and how-to books—are throw-aways: I call these BLOOKS.

—Marjorie Perloff

MP has held endowed chairs in English at both Stanford and USC. She is the author of many books on twentieth and twenty-first century poetry and the avant-garde and of a memoir, THE VIENNA PARADOX, as well as, most recently, a study of Austrian Modernism between the World Wars.

Because my birthname is “Book,” every book is my voodoo doll.

—Christian Bök

Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has won the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and he teaches at Charles Darwin University.