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Small Press in Illinois Prints Even Tinier Books


EVANSTON, Ill. — After 31 years of printing and publishing hard-bound books, Ward K. Schori still can fit all 65 titles on a foot-and-a-half-long shelf.

Schori's press runs in the basement of his suburban Chicago bungalow are small, and the books are tiny. Most are 2 1/2-by-2 inches and a quarter-inch thick.

"These are miniatures," explained Schori, 84. "To qualify as miniatures, they have to be 3 inches or smaller on both sides, like mine."

The retired typographer, newspaperman and journalism instructor prints the books himself, mainly on antique hand presses.

If the books are tiny, their prices aren't. Schori's latest edition, a three-volume work on Abraham Lincoln compiled by Lincoln scholar Ralph Newman, sells for $95. It comes with Spanish leather bindings and an ornamental slipcase.

And it's cheaper than last year's "Selected Works of Paul Ashbrook," which contained 14 matchbook-sized reproductions of oil paintings and accompanying text. That one cost $100.

"Illustrations, gold leaf on the page edges and things like snakeskin leather run the cost up," Schori said. "This one here, see, it's got a fake jewel embedded in the cover."

The book, appropriately, is "The False Jewels," a short story by Guy de Maupassant.

"I print only 175 to 200 copies of each book, and I sell most of them directly to collectors," Schori said.

Schori encountered his first miniature book many years ago when he was publishing a weekly newspaper in tiny Tiskilwa, Ill.

"I thought back then, 'I could do that, too,' but I didn't get around to it until 1962, when I was assistant editor of the old Inland Printer in Chicago," Schori said. "I printed up some little copies of 'To A Skylark,' by Percy Bysshe Shelley, got bindings for $2 apiece and sold the books for $6 a crack."

That appealed to the practicality of a man who once quit a teaching post at Northwestern University and went back to running a Linotype machine, "because it paid more money."

But now, Schori prints because he loves it. His title list runs from philosopher Baruch Spinoza to a work on outhouses.

Among his most popular books is a reprint of "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer," written by his late Evanston neighbor, Robert May.

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