So I must admit I was not very productive so far this month an the month is almost over today.
But not having been in the office for the day (a trip to Zurich for two meetings
about new projects) I now look at my emails and that again proofs my and most
likely everybody’s dilemma - “emails”! Hundreds of them – every day. Most of them
just cc’s and so so’s but hidden in between important projects, problems, new
oportunities, award notifications (like today for “Western Town” – not a photobook)
etc. and my colleague Barbara reminding me about the blog and now already rather late
in the evening in front of me another new book (September is the worst month
of the year as it seems there is a new book almost everyday, so each book only
has a short attention span on my table).
This time it is
“Lydia Goldblatt - Still Here”.
A small and very untypical book (again) for Hatje Cantz. A Photobook without a Photograph on the cover (worst case from my point of view normally), but carefully crafted and beautifully photographed. The book presents a very intimate portrait of the authors parents. Pictures she took in two years time and the title is very carefully chosen – Still here, a very personal documentation that could appeal to all of us that still have parents of the same age or have lost them recently. A silent book that hopefully get’s all the attention it deserves. Again you have the chance to see it at Paris Photo and Lydia Goldblatt will be there to sign the book. And while looking at new books of Hatje Cantz I also briefly need to mention a book that looks so humble and unaspiring but has such great content:
“1914. Welt in Farbe – Farbfotografie vor dem Krieg”
Unfortunately only in German language so far this book presents a selection of images from the Archives of Albert Kahn. Currently the exhibition is at the LandesMuseum Bonn until March 2014 and will then travel to the Martin Gropiusbau in Berlin. I will need to travel to this archive in a suburb of Paris 14 rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt, http://www.albertkahn.co.uk, while going to Paris Photo in November.The archive houses some tenthousands of autochromes Albert Kahn comissioned in the first decades of the 20th century. He sent photographers around the globe to document the world and human life in colour photography. Our book can only show a small selection but the quality of the photographs is outstanding, the fact that they are in colour brings another dimension to the image we have of this time – hey there was colour on earth and in life even before the 50′s!!!
There seems to be a lot of interest in the “earliest colour photography” books these days. I remember our own
Heinrich Kühn book and also Gestalten’s “Nostalgia” book (http://news.gestalten.com/event/nostalgia-sergei-mikhailovich-prokudin-gorskii). Both books at least got a lot of media attention and I can tell that the Kühn book sold well!
So much for now and today and on to the next blogger in October! See you all at Paris Photo I hope!
Of this book I had the pleasure of being the first viewer for almost a week. Because the release date is only later this week but we had first copies already 10 days ago and we had to watch them carefully before sending them out. This book again proofed to be such an ambitous project that before officially showing it to anybody we needed to be sure that the parties involved (mainly Taryn Simon and her team) approve. This book is a typical and an untypical book of Taryn Simon. Typical as far as the title, design and production is concerned. Untypical is the subject matter it deals with as it does not fall within her previous themes. The book again, like most previous books shows Taryn Simons relentless involvement in all aspects of the making of a book. We as the publisher, the production team and the printer can only assist her in her ambitions – which we happily (sometimes unhappily) did. The result shall be the proof whether we succeeded or not.
Like most of her books the title creates more a secret than it tells you anything about the content. “it’s not what it looks like” I would say because from first glance you would think this must be an Ornithology study book and start wondering whether Taryn Simon now has developped interest in bird population issues or so. When you look inside the book you will realize that so far she has not or at least not within the body of work in this book. When opening the book you will find an indepth study of all James Bond Film cars, weapons, technical gadgets and not to forget Bond Girls. Only the author’s name of the original book “Birds of the Westindies”, in the year 1935 can give a hint: James Bond, not the agent but the ornithologist whose name was used by Ian Fleming because (quote from the New Yorker, 1962, April 21st): “… when I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened;I wanted him to be a blunt instrument … when I was casting around for a name for my protagonistI thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard. “ Taryn Simon draws a congenial line from the original book over the world of James Bond Movies to her own work and workstyle. This book was a tough one to make. It was again a big experiment in printing technique, use of varnishes and inks, materials and binding ideas. Naturally it went over budget but we had to keep going. The result is to my opinion extremely convincing and an object of desire in itself, just you have to pay the price to get one – and it is not inexpensive (again) but absolutely worthwhile. I almost forgot to mention: This book smells. It smells great! Your nose will be spoiled with rich flavours of ink, varnish, paper and glue. Some people may say that it does not smell good but I think it does. It will be released in Europe next week (September 27, 2013) and early November in the USA then. Taryn Simon will sign copies of her books at Paris Photo and further locations (to be announced). And as we just hear today it was shortlisted for the Paris Photo Photobookaward. (see: http://www.parisphoto.com/paris/news/announcing-the-2013-photobook-awards-shortlist) So come to Paris and look at the book and get it signed or buy it before in a good bookstore.
Sorry not to have more news last week but:all books I wanted to write about seem to have problems in the final stages of production or are delayed for various reasons. One could say that this is the usual late Summer early Fall phenomenon but it seems to get crazier and crazier every year. The production cycles are faster and the problems and mistakes made because of that more numerous. Anyhow – I hope the books I want to talk about will surface later this or next week then.
See attached photograph for todays theme of “how to distribute books in a world where
there are fewer bookstores or no bookstores”. The two books I show here on a counter of the cooperative supermarket in Bellagio, Lago di Come, Italy (Nineteenth century itenaries of the ancient village of Bellagio and Suroundings, in two volumes and separate Italian and English editions) are very carefully designed and produced books on historical views of Bellagio (prints and photographs). I saw the book in many stores in and around Bellagio and the southern part of Lago di Como which only proofs that there is a market for such books but you need to dig into the sales possibilities locally for such titles. National or international distribution are of no great importance but locally you can sell some thousand copies. Still selling such rather expensive books (€ 50,- per volume, please disregard the € 6,50 pricetag, which applies to the “Polli allo Spiedo”!!) on the butchers counter next to Olives is an interesting very Italian concept for distribution. But it may well work! I must admit I also saw the book in Hotels, Tourist informations, tourist shops (many) and last not least the few bookstores I spotted in Como and Lecco.
What does this mean for photobook publishers in general ?
Well, sometimes the local market is better than the global market. Just like for printed Newspapers!
On a similar idea exhibition catalogue sales are still strong these days if the book relates well
to what you have seen in the exhibition and also if it is simply a good book whereas in the global and national booktrade and distribution currently sales are not “booming” to use a mild expression.
Today I am pointing at another book I had the pleasure of spending the first and only evening (yesterday) with before even the artist could see the result of her endeavours.
“Eva Vermandel – Splinter” is a bit untypical for the normal photobook at Hatje Cantz I would say. It is a very personal and intimate book with photographs of the artist of friends her private “surroundings” – no impressive landscapes, no impressive large scale camera details of cityscapes, and other works in the photographic field Hatje Cantz maybe known for. Still it falls in line with the latest books we did with Tom Hunter, Nelli Palomäki and also to a certain degree Tobias Zielony, Wolfgang Tillmans.
Eva worked on this book wholeheartedly for a long time, still taking most of her pictures on film, and taking great care in every little details that was concerned, including editing, sequenzing and layout with her designer Filip de Baudringhien from Gent.
The images for example were not printed with the highest possible densities but a bit reduced to give them a slightly faded and not so shiny look – relating well to the subject matters she photographed and to her original prints.
In the attached pictures you can see my wife Angelika who when I brought the book home yesterday carefully studied it while smoking her sundowner cigarette on our terrace. The light and atmosphere of that “looking session” related so well to the content of the book that I had to show this here in a little page turning ballet. Another proof that real books are so much more beautiful than an IPad, at least on a wooden terrace with a nice sunset behind you…..and after looking at it she took it with her to show it to some friends of hers which must mean that she liked it.
P.S. The book will be out later in September and a first presentation and booksigning will happen at the London Art Book Fair, Whitechappel Gallery, London, Saturday 14/09 between 4 and 5pm. We will naturally show it at Paris Photo and also have a booksigning there with the artist.
see also: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/portfolio-belgian-photographer-eva-vermandel-kicks-against-the-modern-culture-of-disposability-8788686.html