Sep 1, 2000

Bookshelves - Artist places used books in new dimension

Woodworker sees the writing on the wall

Ever feel sorry for those old books at library sales that nobody wants? Well, it's time to hail Jim Rosenau, onetime Internet gold miner and comedy writer and longtime Berkeley woodworker, who became inspired to turn them into bookcases.

The grandson and son of publishing executives, Rosenau grew up in Kensington in a household devoted to books, and like many bibliophiles, was stricken to see so many in garbage bins.

"I saw very nice looking things being thrown away that nobody is ever going to read again," he said.

His creativity piqued by a Nicholson Baker essay that suggested that "lumber" was a term for a storehouse of ideas as well as wood, Rosenau began to collect old books and experiment with them in his shop.

"I was trying to find ways to work with recycled materials. I had been working with recycled wood in woodworking for awhile."

The result is Second Editions, a line of custom-built shelves and bookcases that evoke the satisfying look, smell and feel of an old book shop.

Rosenau produces three basic styles: the one-bracket shelf, the two-bracket shelf and the bookcase. He uses wood armatures to fill the covers and strengthen them and expresses different themes in each piece ("For Her," shown at right, $400).

"I can't make two alike. Some are similar," he said. "They are glued together with fairly traditional joinery. It's a lot like veneer work."

Prices range from $40 for a simple one-bracket shelf up to $1,000 for a bookcase. "This is not Ikea," Rosenau notes. ..


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