We create beautiful, hand-crafted books, journals, and book-related art prints. We combine traditional letterpress printing with the best artisanal materials from around the world to craft heirloom-quality limited editions.
And we tell the stories of the creative process... histories, design philosophy, profiles of craftspeople of the past and today, reflections on the printed word, and much more.
Ampersand Book Studio was established to create cherished books… editions worthy of giving as a gift, to pass down as an heirloom, or simply to read for the third or fourth (or ninth) time. We want book lovers to be able to build their library anew with volumes which will age well and gracefully.
Our artisan, one-of-a-kind journals and letterpress broadsheets celebrate the present and future of the "book beautiful."
Books are Meant to Be Shared Across Generations
Stories existed for thousands of years before the invention of writing. As songs, as legends, as epic poems, as sacred words, human beings have always created stories, ideas, and creative works to share.
Once writing came about, though, humans sought to inscribe not only symbols and words but also artful forms of expression. The rock, the rune, the ostracon, the clay tablet, the papyrus, the rice paper, the vellum, and eventually the bound book all conveyed more than words. A sacred text was an heirloom, a leather-bound classic was read aloud to a child, and later to her children. Books were meant to last and to be shared.
Skip ahead a few centuries, though, and the electronic and computer progress in printing technology has really started to undermine the possibility of having books which can be passed down for generations. The increasing pace of obsolescence – of gadgets, platforms, software, and websites – can mean that even a cheaply-made paperback from the 1970s is more accessible than that brilliant essay you wrote in that online class three years ago.
Abundance and Obsolescence: For people who cherish books, and cherish reading, the 21st Century is a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, there is more access to "the written word." Digitized libraries, audiobooks and e-books have expanded our choices of reading material. What you do not have is the choice to read a book made of materials that will stand the test of time. Readers face an abundance of choice without the option of quality. There are so many books available in innumerable electronic or printed formats. Yet a good book is hard to find.
The Stories we tell…
Ampersand Book Studio does not just make artisanal books. We also like to tell stories. Stories of bookmaking, of the history of writing and printing. Even our name and logo has a tale. Through our Substack site, we provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the book making process... explore both theoretical and practical considerations in book design from the choice of materials to the creative process... profile the craftspeople – papermakers, bookbinders, tool machinists, and letterpress artisans – who make our work possible.
About Tristan Reader, Principal
Tristan Reader, Ampersand Book Studio founder, is both a book artist and an educator. He works to create books from start to finish, both inside and out. His designs combine typography, illustration, printing, and binding into unique works of book craft. In addition to working on books, Tristan is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. More about Tristan's academic and community-based work can be found at www.tristanreader.com.