Readers digest;
a productive concept, or: Naturselbstdruck

We plan to start a project lasting for a year.

Two tables, with books underneath, will be under our cherry tree.

The books will be there for any creature that might take an interest in digesting them in any way.

On the table tops we will have paper sheets that have been covered with a partly opened plastic sheet (with a text cut out) in order to let the light and the many birds have their part in colour and texture of the 'printwork' - Naturselbstdruck.

From experience we know the birds in the tree shitting the most intense colours from eating our cherries, alderberries, red and black currants, gooseberries, strawberries, wineberries, several wild and semi wild fruits and of course a nice variety of snails, slugs, salamanders (these come into the oldest part of the house to get through the winter), and god knows what else 'el dorado' has to offer the animals in the grape and privet (nesting and running up and down as some large eared extremely small mice do); we will not talk to much about all sorts of 'horrible creatures' that we know to live here as well. Guests

Sun, rain, snow, frost & such will do their 'special effects' bit.

The 'production platform' will be regularly photographed.

At the end of the year, April 2003, the pages that nature will have provided for will be exhibited in the Fries Grafisch Museum in Joure, Friesland.

The result of what has been going on under the table will be looked into, probably even be studied.

In the actual 'Naturselbstdruck'-project two poems by Robert Herrick will be used: Cherry-pit & Cherrie-ripe

The results can be viewed in the "Books 2 Eat Annual Report"

As the project will take place under a cherry tree, one must foresee Hanami, the Japanese cherryblossom festival, to have some impact. Since the 7th century hanami has a tradition of having poetry to go with it.

Bookmaking, a natural process between eating, breathing & sleeping

The garden of Atelier It Plein 19 Oosterlittens / Rotterdam is very small (just like the studio in fact), but it is very much alive as you have been reading above. Trouble is: so must we be in order to keep it at its friendly, constant point of collapse. Over the years we have learned from bitter experience that many creepy-crawlies 'do things' with paper. During building the extention, and maintaining trees (horse chestnut, cherry, apples & peach) we also found several pieces of wood making wonderful colours in water that is simply always around here in Friesland.

This year we will look out for, and keep up the effects of such matters for a number of experiments. We will also study literature on these matters.

This page seems as good a place as any to publish possible results. From 01-04-2002 until 01-04-2003 we hope to inform you.


From the 1st of April 2007 — 1st of April 2008 a similar project has taken place: 'the last bites'. You can see it here.

Some background

by our chairman:

Books have not too much life in them

When I was a twelve year old, my friend had a father working all alone in a Red Cross book dump. He was my first erudite; quite often he was literally sitting in a pile of books, grabbing for gems. Now, his gems may have been different, but taken the circumstances we were two of a kind.

My first gem was "The Wonders of Science", with pictures that were, in now way, every day stuff; but, it lacked a quality I learned from real books.

Real Books were already in the house before my mother and 'us' (the war refugees) came to live in it. These books were different from anything: we were scrubbed till red and smelled after soap and DDT; even our underpants were crispy clean. The books, however, that I found in the attick were powdered-thick-leaved an smelling after the adventures one would find in dark and wet corners in the old house, where all sorts of animals lived.

This encounter with 'life from beyond' gave me much insight into binding structures, if at least the knowledge that one could nibble away nicely on the bitterly tasting red leather in order to come to the sweeter, crusty bits, but the knotted threads were every bit off-putting.

Only sometimes, when the paper was velvetty thick and much like the cosy, & lumpy matrasses we had, I was exhilarated to find the patterned passages of vulnarable creatures.

I loved these animals for two reasons: I knew how homely it was to be in a cave when you would see the soft light at the entrance, and they had their passages pretty much shaped according to the lettering in the books.

So; my new book was new!, it had seen no life, the state of its pages showed no sign of any use, ever. My mother had many new books, but none of them were so ill-attended.

This was a problem I was lucky to solve with the toy-drill from my jigsaw card; probably not quite as neat as the animals would have done it, but it would have to do.

Since that first house I lived in before reaching 'the age of education' I would have to wait some 40 years to find real life books again in the Montefiascone Barbarigo library in Italy.

It is difficult for me not to shed a tear for nature when culture must be saved from the onslaught of hunger, or at least appetite, that is undeniably part of real life. I feel it is time we did something for those in need for Books2Eat. But who are they?

Books are way away from edible editions

The materials books are made of have a long tradition in which they have been put to all sorts of tests in order to find out about their endurance.

When properly bound they are known to withstand fire longer than a log of wood. Even the Nazis, although lacking much experience with such intellectual items, knew that their bonfires of anyone elses books would not be of much spectacular effect if built in their usual neat and orderly manner.

Given the edges were nicely painted, and even without it being a girdle book, one could have any monk swimming a river without loosing all his valued recipies to the flow.

As such the edibility of books would be the first thing to rule out. In human history periods of hunger are so much part of every day life, that a culture built on collective memory stored in edible books would not do at all.

Non-humans seem to have no interest whatsoever in books other than to live in them. Under preconditioned circumstances there are two exceptions only: Anobioum Punctatum (the larveae) and Blatella Germanica L..

Extreme circumstances may force others into nibbeling, but they never really eat books: Lepisma saccharina, Stegobium paniceum L., Ptinidae, Dermestidae, and such: Dogs being bored senseless and animals in a zoo may have pleasant hours with even a simple pocket book.

Then again cats cannot even distinct absolute boredom from their usual life, so they could be cept for bookshelf decoration. Only last year I had an experimental display of 'Fishbooks' in the garden of my workshop: well . . ., I may hate the many 'next door cats' whose owners do not seem to be able to make any sort of an effort to 'connect' with them, so they cannot but chase birds in my garden,; but now salvation is nigh: these lazy creatures, that I have never ever seen actually catching only one of the many mice here, are scared shitless from salmon.

In order to help untidy books in defending themselves against 'horribles' there is a whole family of Cheliferidae; we may not particularly like them, but one cannot be too choosy in these matters.

Rats, mice and such may like the book materials for nesting purposes, but they would only eat the leather and glue bits.

There is of course something changing at the printers, a whole range of smelling inks: what I am waiting for is the tasting ink so that I could make my illustrated bible for the blind; the apostles being identified by their feet: I am sure pictures of the Wedding at Canaan, the story of the Rich Man Forced to Ask in the Local Have-Nots, and probably even The last Supper (mostly depicted as something of a board meeting, so not much for food really) would at last ask the animals in to indulge in their first proper book.