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Saturday, 31 May 2008

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There are several nice shops in Los Angeles, though I imagine New York and Tokyo are the best. On Third Street are Hennessey & Ingalls and Arcana Books. Book Soup is on Sunset Blvd. Then there are the bookstores at the MOCA, LACMA, and Getty Center. The Borders in Westwood had a couple nice books, too. I'm probably missing some great places, but can you blame me? This city's huge.

I hate to admit it, but a solid 95% of my photobooks were bought sight unseen through the Internet. Thanks to various bloggers and forum members, they have all turned out to be wonderful. I find that bookstores usually only have a few of the titles on my search list and a ton I've never heard about. That has its pros and cons.

aizan,
Without looking up the numbers anew, I believe there are about 1.5X as many people in L.A. County as there are in the entire State of Wisconsin. That, too, has its pros and cons! But certainly one "pro" is your great museums.

Mike J.

Mike:
Photo-Eye in Santa Fe is for me THE photo book store.
Richard Rodgers

I had similar results while visiting Washington, DC recently. The bookstore at the National Portrait Gallery had one of the best selections of photo books I've seen in a while. I bought a biography of Yousuf Karsh that I had never seen before in any of the big box stores where I usually shop.

I have family in Milwaukee, in-laws actually, that I visit occasionally. The visits are short and generally dull but I used to look forward to them because I've had such good luck hunting for photography book treasures in a handful of great used book stores in the suburban strip malls of Brookfield, Elm Grove, Wauwautosa and along Blue Mound Road. I say 'used to look forward to' because lately I've returned from these book hunting excursions empty-handed. I guess the secret got out. Regardless, if I lived in Milwaukee I would definitely check these used book stores out regularly.

Also, you did not mention that the Milwaukee airport has a fabulous, if pricey, used book store in its main terminal building. Last time I visited there were several excellent photography titles, and a couple of them I could not resist and are now in my collection.

I live in New York and the great photo book stores here have the best selection and prices to match. Bargains are simply not to be found here. So as far as I'm concerned, Milwaukee is used photo book heaven.

If you happen to be looking for some no longer in print photo books in the Japanese market (hey, it can happen), your best bet is probably Rakuten - Japanese site similar to EBay (if you're looking for used lenses and stuff there's plenty here too). It's all in Japanese of course, and many sellers won't deal with foreigners (too much risk and too much hassle), but there's a site set up to help:

http://photojpn.org/istore/proxyrakuten.php

Basically, you tell them what you want to buy, they buy it locally, charge you in turn, and send it on. And if you have any questions but are hampered by your lack of Japanese, they can translate and forward the answers. A caveat is that I have not used them myself (I live here already) but I have heard good things about this service from others.

Yes, sometimes suburban strip malls do harbor amazing used book stores. BookBeat is a store on Greenfield Road in Oak Park, Michigan that is absolutely crammed from floor to ceiling with primarily used books. They have an extraordinary selection of used and out of print photo books for such a small place. The last time I was there I bought an old Koudelka book in great shape. They have a website, but I have never used it. Anyone passing through SE Michigan should go out of their way to check it out. It's a real gem.

My younger sister lives right across the street from Strand Books in NYC. It is a good thing that I don't live where she does, because I would actually end up living in that store. They say that they have 18 MILES of books shelved there, and I believe it.

I would second the suggestion that you check out local museum bookstores. One specific resource is George Eastman House in Rochester NY. Their gift shop is far better stocked with obscure or older photo books than any major chain, and this includes a liberal selection of European photographers. They also have a pretty decent selection of older titles at half price or less. The only downside is that you really do have to visit the place to see what they have; the website (http://www.eastmanhouse.org/) only shows a miniscule fraction of their selection.

I live in a city of population 300,000. That means we have bookstores and some of them even have a "PHOTOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT". As in half a shelf of books, mostly the kind of where you think "look, they teared some pages of Cosmo and binded them into a book".

So, all my book purchasing is done over internet and the decision on what to buy is based on reviews and recomendations I can find online. As far as that goes TOP and its readers have proven to be great recomenders! This is one of the reasons your book suggestions and reviews are priceless to me. Otherwise I'd be buying blindly. And I'm just not that rich.

I second the comment about BookBeat in Oak Park, Michigan. The store is in an old strip mall near a Dollar store and a funeral parlor. It's a truly remarkable photo and art book store, together with a small but well-selected fiction and children's book section. They will almost always have a copy or two of any significant new photo book, and many deep selections of older material. I lived in Chicago for years, and there is no store there that comes close to having the selection that this place does.Very helpful staff. And when you're done, the best corned beef west of New York is available three doors down in the Bread Basket Deli.

Another vote for museum shops, for example the National Gallery store in Ottawa, Canada has a small but interesting selection of photo books w 15% discount for members. Also just had the opportunity to compare the images in the catalogue for the current Geoffrey James exhibition with the original GSP prints on the wall, the catalogue holds up well in the contest.

I'm surprised you don't mention Photo-Eye. Although I live in the UK I subscribe to their weekly newsletter and buy way more books than I should from them -- always in mint condition, often signed, and mailed in strong cardboard boxes filled with polystyrene chips. They're a class act. The website alone (with "book teases" of inside views for many titles) is an ongoing lesson in what gets published, and a great overview of what's available (and what's not, too, as out of print titles are kept on their database). I very rarely buy from bookshops now (in UK bookshops, "photography" = porn and instructional manual), esp. now Zwemmers in Charing Cross Road has gone.

I have a serious problems with Half Price books. It started in Dallas and at that time we had about 20 active used bookstores. But given HPB's preditory polices we went to 3 and they were high end rare Texian in less than 5 years.

Support your local used book dealer not a faceless chain.


I am very glad about the site.It was so amazing with nice photographs ,thanks for sharing this article.

I'm based in the UK and have occasionally used www.phototitles.com to buy limited edition signed copies of Michael Kenna's books. They specialise in rare, out of print and/or signed copies. Good service, friendly, efficient.

An update on Borders:

"June 06, 2008

BOOK and stationery firm A&R Whitcoulls (ARW) has acquired 30 Borders bookstores in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore for $110 million.

Under the agreement, A&R Whitcoulls Group will gain exclusive rights to use the Borders trademarks in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. "

From The Australian.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23819825-12377,00.html

Great post. Great content.

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