Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

DOUG Has article on Photobooks in BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

with 3 comments

The winter edition of Peter Eastway’s BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY includes an article by Doug on Photobooks. The piece covers a step-by-step discussion on making your own photobooks from concept to output, either by DIY or Print-on-demand.




Here’s page one of the article …


Page 1 Better Photography


DOWNLOAD A PDF of the article here: SPOWART-Photobooks-Better_Photography


AND – Do buy the magazine for the other great stories and prizes!!






3 Responses

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  1. Nice article Doug, and some excellent points about design, but I take issue with your contention that photobooks have a future (I note you do agree it might be short). I suggest that the value of photobooks is now only for those generations raised to see going into print as a goal and an achievement. Yes. I agree that photobooks have a bit of life left, but it’s not long now until generations raised in digital media impose a new version of where value might lie. I think the aesthetics of the future are not about print, nor about page turning and print mimicry.

    Judy Barrass

    June 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    • Hi Judy – I suppose that people still ride horses, ride bikes and even walk – the technology of the car did not totally replace the previous ways of doing things. I agree that a younger digital savvy generation will change many aspects of how portable information display devices will present their communiqués. Jacques Derrida in his essay The book to come (2005) discusses the impact of the new digital technologies on the book. He describes three outcomes for the book in the digital age. Whilst he muses that the book will ‘no longer be what it was’, and hopes that the future book ‘will transfigure or even rescue the book from the shipwreck that is happening at present’. I concur with his first proposition that,
      … For what we are dealing with is never replacements that put an end to what they replace but rather, if I might use this word today, restucturations in which the oldest form survives, and even survives endlessly, coexisting with the new form and even coming to terms with a new economy …
      Lesley A. Martin Publisher of Aperture’s Book Program confirms this dual future and adds to it. She states on the Exposures blog The Future of Photobooks 2009 that the market is,
      … bifurcating … dividing things into at least two identifiable camps—not to
      be seen simply as a split between the luxury collectible v. the mainstream
      affordable, or, as it is more commonly interpreted, between analog and digital.

      Martin considers that what is important is the nature of the communiqué. In some works the ‘idea is tantamount to its material form’ whilst in others the, ‘objectness and conceptual rightness of the material form are of utmost importance’. Essentially the key for any successful publishing for her is ‘finding the right form for the material’ and as there are a multitude of ways of doing this Martin believes, ‘there is no single future of the photobook — there are multiple futures’ (Martin 2009). The photobook, in all its possible forms is certainly here to stay. We will both be around for a while yet to see the next bit of that future … Cheers Doug

  2. Hi Doug, wonderful article and you’re absolutely right that photobook design requires a whole new set of skills that are distinct from photography skills. And interesting discussion here about the future of photobooks. I for one am a believer in their survival, but they will likely continue to evolve from their present form. I came across an interesting article recently which talks about the fact that coffee table books are performing well in a publishing market that’s facing severe difficulties (see http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/coffee-table-books-weather-publishings-decline). Perhaps there is still room for print books, but more as an art form or family heirloom. In the same way that you have all sorts of digital screen technology, but that has not prevented the continued growth of the art market.

    This is my personal belief and that of my business (Catch Stories). I believe that photobooks are here to stay, but they may have to evolve to a form with greater lasting appeal in terms of design and concept. We call the photobooks we create ‘heirbooks’, to signify this step towards photobooks that are designed to be coffee table books and contain much more valuable information and memories than your traditional photo album or the photobooks produced by the population at large.

    Survival, however, doesn’t necessarily mean growth. Should photobooks become a niche rather than a mass market product, you could argue that they don’t have a future and indeed many photobook companies will go out of business. I hope this isn’t the future. I believe there are enough sentimentalists out there who are able to treasure the value of well-made photobooks or heirbooks. Long live the photobook.


    Catch Stories (@CatchStories)

    September 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

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