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Monday, 26 November 2007


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Ah, the "Scots gene" - how I wish mine would overrule some of my buying habits....

Right now, I wouldn't, but for the purely selfish reason that I'm broke, short, (that, too), strapped, busted. I've blown the book budget for the year.

As to the moral question, ............ oy.


Every time we purchase something, we also support the livelihood of people who make the product and the gov't who gets taxes for it. For example, if a camera company releases a new camera model and nobody purchases it - then the company will lose a lot of money, layoff people from the marketing to the R&D guys. So just imagine, if you do not buy the book, the artist/photographer can't buy a camera. Buying something, bargain or not, keeps a lot of people out of poverty. But preferring to buy several cheaper uninteresting books than just one highly interesting book at a premium is a more efficient way of redistributing wealth. :-)

If you can spare the money to spend on the book, you should buy it. When I take that approach, I soon forget about how much I spent, and focus on enjoying the book.

There's an expression in Russian: "I'm not rich enough to buy cheap things". It doesn't quite fit for books, but I'd much rather have a small book that I keep returning to than a big book that was cheaper on a per-photo basis.

The reason for not buying the book would be that you were planning to instead give the money to someone in greater need. Here, I think one has to strike a balance.

A constant dilemma. There are authors that I would to buy in hardcover because of the belief that the author gets more money per copy than with subsequent paperback sales (is that even true?). But if I continue to do that, I wouldn't have money left to buy any books at all.

Mike, maybe there's a dense population of photographers in Milwaukee [ta-dum-dum]. ;)

Seriously, I can understand buying some things, like Q-Tips, I mean ear swabs, that might offer 500 units for the price of 250 official Q-Tips, since both will accomplish the intended duty, but artworks, photography, music, don't seem to fit the same rationale. I mean would you want to listen to an album, or look at a book of photographs, with songs and pictures you don't really enjoy that much, just becasue you saved money? I don't think so, plus how do you determine the value of a work of art? And how do you determine cost versus enjoyment? The expensive photo book could be a better value in the long run.

Can't help you with the buying decisions Mike. I don't think you can afford my consulting fees. Though if interested I might tfown in a FREE hour if you like. ;-)

Hmmmm "value added" in photo books?

Either way I just enjoyed 20 minutes looking at Patrick's website.

That guy is a really great photographer.


(1) Once you see an image you already own it. (And, unlike all the junk in your basement and closets, you'll retain it only if it's worthwhile to you.)

(2) If you had to give it a second thought, forget it. This is a particularly good rule for something that has little, if any, chance of appreciating over time. If you're going to bet on this work eventually knocking out the lights a Sotheby's, go for it.

For me, Mike, the answer is simple (although I will admit that I'm often accused of attempting to oversimplify a great many things). It's like buying a car - the notion of "value" has far more to do with your degree of satisfaction than it does with how much you forked over. Even if you paid too much, if you love driving the thing and it never gives you an ounce of trouble, you got a "good deal".

If, on the other hand, you hate to even look at the beast in the driveway, you got screwed (regardless of what you paid).

See? It's simple.

Mike, go for the quality! If you don't get "Slipstream" you'll spend time day dreaming about it and kicking yourself for not getting it. The choices I make in my life reflect the attitude that, in the end, I don't want any regrets!

As someone who has bought at least four not-inexpensive items, unseen, purely as a result of reading about them on this site, I would say that part of the blame for over-consumption definitely has to lie with those who tempt us with such desirable gewgaws ;-)

That said, every one of those items has proved either eminently practical or deserving of 'flagrant and unconditional love'. So I thank you for that!

If enough people buy from your Amazon links, you might make enough money to pay for part of that book. Maybe not the whole book, but every $4.76 helps.

I think I'm going to get the dog book as a Christmas gift for my brother-in-law. Then, I can borrow it and enjoy it for free. (It's that darn Scot's gene...)

Well, I just got that book of 400 Ansel Adams Photos you recommended last month:


I was amazed at the value of book I got for about $25. I was expecting a relatively thin paperback with 400 relatively tiny photos, but got an excellent "coffee table" book. (Now I need a coffee table!)

This was an excellent value for the money, a true "Super-Size!" (The flyleaf lists the list price at $40.)

Thanks for pointing it out.

Wait three months and the book will be remaindered by photo-eye. That should appeal to your inner Scot.

Hi Mike,
One of the differences between this book and others that you have cited, is that it is self published. This could mean that it is a print-on-demand book. I am now working on books six and seven, using print-on-demand technology. (Xerox iGen3)

My physical costs for the printed book usually exceeds the retail price of an equivalent, similar sized commercially printed book. Add to this the time and resources spent on:

1) taking photographs,
2) desktop preperation, eg photoshopping files for reproduction, layout, proofing etc.
3)expenses that will be incured in marketing

Assuming the artist would like to, at a minimum, recover the costs of printing, desktop preperation and marketing, the final retail price has to be substantially higher than the typical mass produced equivalent.

By my perception, the price is reasonable.

Raymond St. Arnaud

Not so easy for you Mike as you don't have a normal job but if I get really stuck with this kind of buying decision the rational goes as follows -
1/ How many hours do I have to work to earn that much? - is it still worth it.
2/ If it is not fit for purpose or if I grow tired of it how much will it fetch on eBay when I sell it?

Cheers, Robin

Mike, you've seen the pictures. You can't get any closer, you cannot 'own' them.

I already own way too many photography books, at last count somewhere north of 300 volumes. Despite that, I still get goosebumps when I stumble across a truly beautiful and significant volume. Over the years on several occasions I have passed on a book, only to regret it later when it was no longer in print. Nowadays I try to limit my purchases to those I won't regret in a few months, but that in turn tends to select for expensive volumes. So many books, so little time...

I haven't been inside a fast food restaurant in years. This morning when I looked in the mirror I saw the Pillsbury Doughboy. So much for Morgan Spurlock.

I think Player has a great point. You can't put a price tag on a work of art and determine its value.

Wow. I was not familiar with Patrick O'Hare and I followed your link to his site. It seems like an easy solution to me: buy his book. His work is deceptively simplistic and dreary, yet most of the shots stopped me cold. His use of color, even with monotone subjects, is quite extraordinary. I am currently taking an extended workshop with Bob Lerner, the old (81) "Look" photographer. Periodically, he brings in some of his new projects - similar dreary urbanscapes - in amazing color, telling fantastic stories. You gotta keep these talents going. If O'Hare's work speaks to you, you should have it close at hand. It's only the cost of a couple of small CF cards :)

Yep, we have the "supersize" mentality. But we also have sensitive "don't rip me off" detectors, and I think that may be a factor here (certainly for the CD).

Look up the "ultimatum game" on the net: You have two people (who are not face to face, with no way to communicate). One player gets ten dollars/euros/Swiss franc/whatever. That player can decide, completely unilaterally, how much he'll keep and how much to give to the other player. The player can only accept or reject, nothing else. If he accepts, he'll get whatever the first player decided he'll get, while if he rejects, neither player gets anything at all. They only play one single time, so there's no reciprocality involved.

It turns out people will overwhelmingly reject offers that are seen as unfair (7 to the decider and 3 to the other, say) despite them effectively throwing away free money.

Really expensive photo books, or full-price, half-length CD:s may well start to trigger the "fairness detection system" and drive us to reject the offer, especially as we keep reading about the gross margins on CD:s and how little of that money actually goes to the artist.

I've been collecting photography books for some 30 years now, my modus operandi being, if I really like 20 photographs- I buy it... eventually!

Even though I wasn't crazy about two or three of the pictures in Slipstream, I still considered getting it since I certainly did like most of them, and thought quite a few were knockouts. The somber mood it sets is also somewhat reminiscent of one of my all time, favorite monographs- Troubled Land by Paul Graham.

Had the book gone with the "usual" Amazon discount, I'd be leafing through it right now- but at $65 (with my income), I'd have to hold it up close and personal to make that final decision. And damn if ya don't got me reconsidering all over again for the holidays!

Bob had been talking generally about deep low-register instruments and was probably thinking of Dolphy on bass clarinet. Dolphy also played flute, clarinet, and piccolo. He was best on flute and alto sax IMO.

Mike J.

If you want it and can afford it, get it, but don't bitch about it later ;)

My weakness are books. If I can get them for a reduced prize,I get them ;)
Don't let me loose on a flea market :P


Patrick's book uses print on demand technology and each one costs him around 55.00 dollars to output. They may seem expensive at first but they are limited edition and signed by the artist.

I advise to buy books that you like and want on your shelf. Some buy for investment, I don't, but if Patrick were to ever make more of a splash on the art scene then this little book I am sure would be a rare item.

I advised him to raise his prices as he was actually losing a lot of money on each book sold through the small bookseller Spoonbill and Sugartown in Brooklyn NY.


Mike, O'Hare's "Slipstream" works out to a reasonable, it seems to me, $3.25 per photograph.

Try evaluating it based on image-views per dollar rather than images per dollar and then decide what's the bargin.

Thanks for pointing me to O'Hare's site ! I only wish he had a lot more pictures there for me to see. A few were taken reasonably close to home, too ...

Just to follow on ... wanted to mention ... the tilted horizons in O'Hare's pictures DO bug me :)

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