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Tuesday, 24 September 2013


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Mike, just an opinion from a potential customer: I find words in photobooks to be a waste of space about 90% of the time*. I rarely make it all the way through an introduction unless it's a just-the-facts-ma'am sketch and I find almost everything "artistic" written by photographers to be cringe-inducingly bad.

For instance, the text in Pentti Sammallahti's Here Far Away made me wish I'd bought the German version, simply so I wouldn't know how embarrassing it was.

Off the top of my head, the only photobook I can think of where the words made the finished product stronger is Atkinson's Within The Stone. I groaned when I read Bill's description of the accompanying text on his website, but it actually works.

I'd rather drop the words and have a shorter book, or even better, fill those wordless pages with photos, and have a stronger book.

*aside from captions, if needed.

Does that mean that there are mint julips which are non-vegetarian?

[All I know is that the processed food industry puts cheese in everything these days. --Mike]

I can't imagine someone hasn't already suggested or you haven't thought about a Kickstarter approach.

If not...


Not that it will make any difference in how photobooks are made, but I agree with James Sinks: I buy a lot of photobooks -- more than 100 for each of the past three years -- for the photos, not the texts, and would welcome an industry-wide switch to offering books that contain more photos and fewer words.

I'm also not a fan of words in photo books, but I am interested in reading your ideas on photos and I love the idea of the text at the end. Why didn't I think of that?

Check with Michael A. Smith and his Lodima Press. Highest quality around, beautiful layouts and books one would be proud to show.
A lot of experience in low run, high quality books and numbered editions.

A vegetarian from Wisconsin that doesn't eat cheese?!

[Well, technically speaking, in Wisconsin cheese *IS* a vegetable. But I'm not eating it right now anyway.... --Mike]

RE: Mike replies: I'm definitely not going to do that. The reason is that I want to make sure I have a satisfactory product to deliver before I take anyone's money for anything. We won't sell any books before we have books printed and ready to go.

I think I understand your dislike of pre-orders. I'm not sure I agree with it, but that's not my point here. How about having a "virtual pre-order"? You would describe the book and give a ball park price. At that point you would ask (allow?) blog readers to indicate if they seriously plan on buying the book. No money changes hands. No contracts are signed. No legal commitments on either the buyer or the seller (you). Nonetheless, I bet that most of the folks who commit to purchasing the book would do so, and it would give you some kind of metric for determining demand.

Good luck,


> the text will always appear at the end of the books

That's a good idea, and one I was going to suggest. I have three of the Fototorst books, all of which have writing in the front, as typical. But the Koudelka one has an interview section in the back, which always makes me think, this is the place to have the writing.

Incidentally, I love the size of the Fototorst books (not that I'm suggesting this for yours), as the photographs are just big enough to appreciate & I can easily carry a single book in a shoulder / camera bag, etc. to look over, again and again, on the train, in a coffee shop, during a break, etc. - in terms of milage, my Fototorst books are well travelled (http://www.fototorst.com/index.php)

I'm a little disappointed that the comments section has not yet produced a credible meat julep recipe.

Can't find the source or correct words but the quote goes something like "My second editions are my rare editions"

Let's hope that rare AND second are a result for your enterprise.

If you are considering a trademark, the first thing you should do is a trademark search to make sure your trademark is clear for use. The search can be done at the US Patent and Trademark Office website www.uspto.gov. This website also describes the trademark registration process and how you can file the application. If you run into problems with the registration process, you may need to consult a trademark attorney.

I think this is great Mike.

Regarding the pre-orders: you could always take pledges and not bill people until you were satisfied and read to ship.

Regarding the text: I do find a lot of photo book text laborious, but some has been truly insightful and enriching, and you have a natural gift it seems for writing easy prose that opens the mind and the eyes. I'm a better photographer and a better viewer for reading you and Ctine. Pen away!

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