I’ve decided to do a book of the Staccato images. Not a short-run Blurb book printed on an hp Indigo, but the real deal printed on an offset press. In the past, I’ve posted my experiences with processes that some photographers go through, like going to a meat-market print review, and there’s been what passes for a fair amount of interest, given my low standards in such things, so I’ll be reporting on my progress in these virtual pages from time to time.
The best way to see all the posts in this series is to scroll down to the bottom of this one (below the comments) and you’ll find pingbacks to each of them. Click on the pingbacks with the titles that interest you, and you’ll be taken to those posts.
Why would I do a stupid thing like getting a book published?
It’s hard to explain. My elevator may not go all the way to the top floor. It’s hard for me to figure out why I want to do it. I’ll hit the high spots in this first post, and fill in the rest as I gain more insight.
First, for the record, here are a few of the myriad reasons not to publish a book.
- It’s expensive. Even if it’s a hit in the universe of self-published photographic coffee-table books, you’ll never get your money back.
- If you want to try and get some of your cash back, selling your book requires that you do a lot of things that aren’t much fun, at least for me. I’d rather make pictures than go around to retail outlets and try to convince then to give me shelf space.
- You may end up with a garage full of books. That is embarrassing, and may lead to paint damage of the car that’s been displaced from its rightful parking space.
- It’s a lot of work. You’ll see as this tale evolves.
- It may require photographers to do things outside their skill set: sequencing, designing, font selection, layout, material selection…
- In the electronic era, real dead-tree books are passé. If I were up with the times, I’d publish an e-book and call that it.
Undeterred, I’m going to do it anyway. Why?
I think I’m done with the series. It was fun, and I could do some more with it, but it would just be putting in the time and waiting for the right things to happen in front of the camera. I don’t particularly enjoy the travel and lonely stays in hotel rooms that the series requires. I’ve stopped evolving in the creative process in the large sense, although when faced with a new set of captures, getting to the final image requires creativity. I’ve had a show of the work at a well-respected venue, the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California. A book seems like a nice way to cap the Staccato series off.
I’m getting older, and I’m starting to think about what’s going to happen to my work after I’m gone. I’m not well-known enough for anyone to set up an archive for my work, even if I were willing to endow it. I haven’t sold that many prints. Having copies of a nicely-done book in the world is something in that direction.
Here’s a really stupid reason. A book seems somehow important to me. Picking up a coffee-table book is an occasion. That feeling probably goes back to my youth, and doesn’t apply today, but I’m stuck with it.
And, of course, there’s ego.
I thought about doing the design and layout myself with help from a friend who’s done several books himself. After several months of essentially zero progress because I never seemed to find the time, I’ve decided to hire a designer. Picking one wasn’t a hard decision. I’m going with Takigawa Design, in Monterey. I’ve known Jerry Takigawa a long time. I’ve seen books he’s done for other photographers. I trust him. He’s not the cheapest game in town, but I’m pretty sure he’s the best.
I’ve also picked a printer. Hemlock Printers is a Vancouver, BC, operation that prints LensWork. Brooks Jensen raves about them. Jerry’s used them a lot in the past, with unfailingly good results. Again, this is not an expense-driven decision. It would be cheaper – probably a lot cheaper — to have the book printed in Hong Kong. My understanding from those who’ve done it is that short run printing in the Far East can provide excellent quality, but you don’t really know what you’re going to end up with until the fork lift takes the books off the truck, and I want to be able to be there for the press run.
Yesterday, I had my first meeting with some people from Hemlock at Jerry’s office: Brad Fleming, a sales representative who works out of Walnut Creek, California, and Peter Madliger, Hemlock’s VP of Prepress.
I’ll report on what happened in the meeting in the next few posts.