I was just about ready to launch Photobook Boom and thinking about how to begin describing the project in this first blog post when I found at Conscientious the announcement of Jörg Colberg’s new book Understanding Photobooks: The Form and Content of the Photographic Book. My first feeling was that I’m just about to start a project that someone else has already finished. It made me stop for a slight rethink.
Colberg’s proposition is that photobooks can be easy to make – almost effortless, really – but nevertheless they are ‘very complex objects’.
There are so many problems for a self-publishing photographer to solve in making a photobook and not much information out there about how to do it.
Photographers don’t have to become expert at every aspect of editing and publishing, but they do need be to be able to have informed discussions with editors, designers, printers and others involved along the way.
Colberg’s aim is to cover everything you have to think about as a photographer when you’re considering publishing your photobook – from editing and sequencing to how binding works – and provide an in depth resource on how to actually do these things.
I will have to get a copy of Colberg’s book when it comes out next month. I’ll be trying to map much of the same territory with Photobook Boom and I hope Understanding Photobooks will help me focus my project more closely so it doesn’t feel like going over the same ground. There’s plenty more to say about all of this.
Photobook Boom won’t be exactly a how-to guide. I want to document the current, ongoing photobook scene and how various creative actors participate in it. The project will allow a multiplicity of voices to be heard without trying to be authoritative. I’m not suggesting Colberg’s book will be any kind of instruction manual either. He’s certainly right to identify a lack of resources so Photobook Boom can help with that.
I’m coming at this from a longstanding interest in small press publishing, zines, artist’s books and, of course, photography. I’m particularly interested in how print culture evolves in the digital media age and how independent publishers create their identity and sustain their activities.