Book makers keep art form alive

(Courtesy Photo)
(Courtesy Photo)
(Courtesy Photo)

By Josh Day

With the proliferation of e-readers and digital textbooks, the way we view books is changing.

Today, another type of book will appear on Baylor’s campus. Community members will have the opportunity to view a set of artist’s books crafted by a traveling husband-and-wife team.

The multicolored gypsy wagon that the books — and Peter and Donna Thomas — travel in will be parked in front of Moody Library so passers-by will have a chance to view the books and reflect on the value of physical books. ­

The Thomases are book artisans who craft, bind and print their own unique books while traveling across America.

Artists’ books are unique in their form and shape, often looking nothing like the average book at a passing glance.

According to Sha Towers, the director of liaison services for Baylor Libraries, the Thomases will arrive at the library at noon.

Towers said they have made a collection that includes 3-inch miniature books, a moleskin journal whose pages unfold into a single meters-long piece of paper, and a book about ukuleles that folds out from a real, playable ukulele.

At 2:30 p.m. today, the Thomases will be in Moody Library’s Allbritton Foyer, which is located behind Starbucks, to discuss the place and future of books in an increasingly digital world.

“One of the things that appeals to me about artists’ books is that you can’t ‘e-readerize’ artists’ books. They would lose their value and their purpose,” Towers said.

Towers said he hopes the artists’ visit will spark a conversation about the nature of books and the existence of the library itself.

“I see it not as just an introduction to artists’ books, but also an introduction to stopping and reflecting on the book and the library and what that means for us,” Towers said.

Towers, who knew the artists’ work through his involvement with the Baylor Libraries’ Book Arts Collection, invited the two to Baylor when he heard that the Thomases would be traveling to another library in Texas.

The collection is an assortment of hundreds of artists’ books from a number of book artists, including a few of the Thomases’.