The Last Book

A book about books. Their covers and people who read them. During my photographic survey in the subways of Beijing, Paris, London and New York, I found that in the past five years, the number of printed books has steadily dwindled while the number of e-books and tablets doubled each year. Continuing this projection to the coming years, I predict that I can photograph the last book in the spring of 2016.

 
— Reinier Gerritsen


The world — and the word — is in the process of becoming less and less dependent on paper. Our habits of reading, especially as they occur in the public space, are shifting each day. Photographer Reiner Gerritsen focuses on books and their readers in public buses and subways as a measure of this rapid change.

The work began for Gerritsen as a series of modest observations, and has turned into a series of unexpected, documentary portraits, set against a visual landscape of best sellers, classics, romance novels, detective thrillers, Bibles, biographies, and more. Gerritsen depicts solitary individuals engrossed in the worlds they hold in their hands, and he creates complexly layered narratives informed by the choices of readers and the the body language of fellow passengers lost in their own forms of dealing with crowded isolation.

— LensCulture editors


Editor's note: The project exists against another backdrop as well. Until October 2012, the Dutch government was very financially supportive of photobooks. Recent cuts in grants for photobooks came unexpectedly and is having an enormous impact on the ability of photographers to produce books. Thus, The Last Book is not only referring to the books it pictures. Reinier Gerritsen, like many Dutch photographers, is looking for new ways of funding. Crowd-funding is one option which is being explored.

The Last Book will be published by Aperture in spring 2014 only if the photographer raises a significant amount of money himself. Gerritsen has created an extensive preview on his website. If you like these photographs, please consider helping the artist publish this book so many more people can enjoy the work as well.