“Birds of the Westindies” by Taryn Simon


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.