Just a public service notice: Amazon actually has copies of Lewis Baltz: Works. Get 'em while they're hot. (I wouldn't believe that "more on the way," though.) I'd say more, but those of you who want this know who you are.
An update about Alice Springs: Portraits. Subsequent to my post about it, evidently the price was raised from $75 to $100, and the status went from "In stock" to "backordered." I couldn't get Twin Palms to answer the phone for me—I think I missed the time difference on both ends of the day. In any case, seems they're gone. (The books, I mean, not the people at Twin Palms.) (So maybe the book makes my list after all.)
And finally, don't miss Larry Watson's Featured Comment to the Alice Springs post. Larry was Helmut and June Newton's assistant in the 1980s and added some valuable facts and corrections to what I said.
(Photo by J.G.)
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Marcoventurini: "I saw the picture and I thought: wow!, nice, nice one! What picture am I talking about? The one you took of the book, or the one published in the book? I find it funny, that the original picture depicts so many rectangles, and your picture of the book, being taken from the side, distorts (perspective!) all the rectangles in there, including the frame itself, so that eventually all the shapes are skewed and not a single true rectangle is left!"
Mike replies: Much as I appreciate the comments on the picture illustrating this post, please do note that I didn't take it. It was taken by a reader who bought the set of books, who asked to be credited by his initials, J.G. (I checked it with him, of course.) He's actually a big supporter of the site in several ways—and as you note, a capable photographer.
I don't own the Baltz set myself, nor will I—too rich for me. Very generally speaking, $100 is about my practical limit for a book, even a set like this. I'll pay more when the set is something I really want, like the August Sander set, but that was actually a screaming bargain tailor-made to warm the cockles of the severest cheapskate's hardscrabble heart—$122 for 7 very well-made volumes.
I don't actually know the highest price I've ever paid for a photo book—the most valuable one I own, I inherited. A number I own are supposedly "worth" hundreds, a couple even north of a thousand (I put "worth" in quotation marks because although that's what they supposedly go for, I'm not sure I could actually get that for them), but that's because they've become rare and have appreciated in price since I bought them—I didn't pay those prices. I think the maximum I've ever paid for a photo book is $150, and it's not often I've spent that. But I'd have to think that over. Maybe there are one or two that I spent more for.
In fact, one of my personal "problems" as a modest photo book collector (my collection is far from huge) is that I have a tendency to bring too much junk into it. I've intermittently been quite, er, impecunious, so I tend to look for bargains, and I end up buying too many remainders and used books just because they're cheap and available. Book collections are almost always improved by assiduous weeding periodically—getting rid of the junk and the "hurt" books and the stuff you just don't like. But I have a problem doing that, too, which again relates to being cheap—if I paid $20 for something, I have a hard time giving it to Goodwill or selling it to the local secondhand bookstore for 50¢ or giving it to the local college, because it feels like wasting money. I read an argument recently that rather than think of getting rid of extraneous junk as "wasting your investment," you should consider that you actually wasted the money when you bought the item. So if you spent $400 on an exercise machine you've had for ten years and never use, you're not wasting $400 when you give it away—you wasted the $400 when you bought it.
Even so, I find it hard to cull my books. One problem is that by the very process of culling them, I remind myself of them, and that brings them to the forefront my consciousness again. So, invariably, whenever I get rid of a box of books, in the weeks following there will be several instances when I'll want to refer to one of the books I just gave away.
You know what they say: Oh well.