Statistical data on the letterpress movement

I am writing a proposal for a new letterpress class at my university. In the proposal I would like to give some current statistics on the resurgence of the letterpress the amount of new shops and the impact it has had with design programs and students. Is there any source which would show current numbers or even rationales?

Larry Will
West Chester, PA

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The only number of which I am aware is the one on the left side of the Briar Press home page (“About”): 66,907 subscribers to the site as of today. That number has about doubled in the past year or so. Most are amateur or professional printers or users of the services of same, or enthusiasts. Many posts to Briar Press are from students.

Other than that, I don’t know of any such stats.



I’m not sure where you are coming from or going to with your proposed program, or even what department you are approaching with the program proposal.

One source of information for you would be the College Book Arts Assn., and its members who more than likely have been in the situation you find yourself. The website is at:

You might be able to see the institutional members listed there, and start querying some of their directors as to how they justified their programs in whatever discipline they are involved. Some are cross-disciplinary, some wholly in art programs or literature programs.

Most of the people who are coming on the scene as letterpress purveyors are sole proprietors who bought a press, having some desire to reproduce their artwork or ideas, and are not considering employing anyone else, if your concern is availability of jobs for your graduates.


Thanks for the insight. The class is an elective in the art & design program. The basis for the stats is to show relevance or purpose for the class as part of the current curriculum. The idea of students going into the printing industry is not an objective. This is an introduction into letterpress for the design an art students.


It is incredibly difficult to determine. While Briar Press does list 66,914 as a membership, note that you cannot undo your membership. This is only a record of sign ups, not a viable record of continued interest.

I did some running around of other lists where membership is fairly accurate as of tonight (folks can remove their membership): PPletterpress 1,625 (digital letterpress). Letpress, 1,218 (oldest online letterpress email list), sfletterpress, 712 (San Francisco based).

Oddly enough, print subscription-based media in sequence, Fine Print, Bookways, Parenthesis (from 1975 on), always seemed to range between 1,200 to 1,600 in paid membership.

It seems likely that a professional approach to it all has remained fairly stable, but since 2001 an awful lot of amateur interest has surfaced.

I teach 3-4 courses of letterpress every tri-semester and there is seemingly a lot of interest growing over the last decade. Does this translate into folks going into letterpress professionally? Some do, most don’t. I think a lot of folks are doing a look see if this is a viable business plan.

Not sure this can be done statistically anymore with the advent of social media.



I didn’t see your last comment. I ask students why they are taking the class ( I only teach continuing education) and a large percentage of them are graphic designers who just want to get back to the basics. They sit in front of computers all day and want to work with their hands. Not sure it has any more meaning than that.



Don’t take online presence as the whole of letterpress.
There are more printers out there than are spending time here and in the other forums. And I don’t mean just the old-timers who haven’t moved to computer and photopolymer. There are printers who are too busy working, even in digital letterpress, to be here.