Book Altering Through a Round Robin


An altered book round robin is an activity in which two or more AB artists agree to do artwork in one or more books.


  • Standard Round Robin. A group of artists participate, using an agreed-upon theme (or no theme, if that is the agreement). Each artist has a book, so six people = six books.

    You work on your own book first, then send it to the second person. The second person works on your book, which s/he will eventually send on to the third person. In the meantime you will have received a book from another group member. You will work on that book, and send it along to the second person according to a schedule.

    Eventually, each artist will receive their own book back. It will contain art work created by every member of the group.

  • Tip-In Round Robin. Rather than mail books, players agree to mail tip-in pages instead. This cuts down on the cost of mailing and minimizes the chances of damage or loss of the books.

  • One-on-one Round Robin. Two AB artists agree to work on each others books. They pass the books back and forth between them.

  • Serial Robin. A group of artists agree to work on one book. The book usually belongs to one member of the group. Others participate because the theme reflects a special interest -- or because the book is being donated to a gallery or charitable organization.


Typically, someone hosts a standard and serial round robin. In the events that I have participated in, the host has a number of responsibilities. Those responsibilities include deciding the theme, establishing rules for the round robin, developing a mailing order, developing a schedule, and generally keeping track of things.

Round Robin Rules

You said rules? I thought there were no rules in making altered books!!!!!

True enough, but when you are working on an altered book belonging to someone else, or when you are in a group activity with a number of other people, some ground rules are necessary. As mentioned above, the host usually establishes the rules, possibly consulting other players for their input. Rules will differ, but typically they would touch on the following issues:
  1. Theme. Self explanatory.
  2. Eligibility. Identifies who is eligible to participate in a round robin. Some hosts might accept only experienced altered book artists, for example. Others might request newbie participants. Still others might restrict players to people who belong to a certain organization, etc.
  3. Deadlines for mailing or exchanging books.
  4. Weight, size and type of book. This is significant in cases where books will be mailed from player to player.
  5. Mailing and packaging requirements, if appropriate. A host might stipulate how a book is to be packaged for mailing, as well as the type of mailing that is required. S/he might ask for mailings with tracing, insurance, priority post, etc.
  6. Communication requirements. Typically, players are asked to communicate regularly with other members, reporting when books have arrived or been sent.
  7. Special requirements for art work, if any.

Miscellaneous Comments about An Altered Book Round Robin

  • Mailings, especially international mailings, can be expensive. I live in Canada, and have paid as much as $16 to mail a book to a player in the US.
  • Participating in a round robin requires committment and responsibility. You let other people down when you fail to meet deadlines, damage other people's art, or resist communicating throughout the project.
  • Unless otherwise stipulated, artists sign each page they have worked on.
  • Unless otherwise agreed upon, each AB artist can include guidelines for working in their book. These guidelines might include whether or not the cover can be altered, whether niches can be cut, whether other art work can be altered, whether nudity is acceptable, etc.
  • Each player usually provides a sign in (sign-in) page in the altered book. This is a page where other players sign in and provide some information about themselves. Typically, the book's owner would design the sign in page and indicate to others how to use it.

Pros and Cons

Round robin players must realize there are risks involved, and be willing to assume those risks. It is possible that your book will be damaged, lost or even stolen. It is possible you will not like the art you receive back. It is possible that quarrels and tension will develop among players.

On the other hand, it is possible, even probable, that you will make new friends, receive some wonderful art work, and learn new techniques.

Where Do I Find Round Robin Players?

  • Through art groups and organizations.
  • Through your social circle. You know other arts and crafts people, right? Explain the concept and get them interested.
  • Through people you meet in workshops, arts and craft conventions, and at craft stores. Explain the concept and invite them to participate.
  • Through the Altered Book Group at Yahoo. This wonderful group runs round robins all the time.

Return to Altered Book Home Page when finished with Round Robin