Digital publishing-on-demand services are completely changing the way photography books can be envisioned, created, distributed and sold.
New online services for self-publishing photo books have finally attained the level of quality printing that rivals traditional book publishing — and they are turning the economics of publishing on its head.
The new books look great, they’re amazingly affordable, and the technology makes it easy for photographers to get creative and experiment with different sequences, designs, and formats.
In short, we are beginning to see some remarkable photo books that never would have seen the light of day five years ago, simply because it was neither technically nor economically feasible to create them until now.
To celebrate this newfound freedom, Lens Culture (www.lensculture.com) has teamed up with the Rhubarb-Rhubarb Photography Review in Birmingham, UK, and Blurb.com to create an all-new international photo book award. All photographers who have registered to present their portfolios at this year’s event (August 1, 2, and 3) will be eligible to win the prize, which will include publishing their own monograph, and getting international publicity and promotion to help sell the book.
Creating a great photo book can be a daunting challenge. In addition to outstanding photographs, it requires ruthless editing, a compelling design, and a visionary sequence that flows and builds meaning as the reader turns the pages.
Constructing a single mock-up for a photo book used to take weeks or months of painstaking work. And publishing a book was an expensive proposition, which meant that a lot of “cool ideas” never made it beyond the hand-made mock-up because traditional publishers could not afford to print them, or they weren’t willing to take on the risk of an unknown artist.
But now it’s possible for a photographer to design a book from cover-to-cover in a day or two. They can print only one copy — or a thousand. The finished books can even be sold through a professional online bookstore at no extra cost to the photographer.
This new award will allow photographers to experiment with their own photos and ideas to create totally unique photo books. These books can then be used as important self-promotion tools to introduce a photographer’s work to new galleries, important curators and art collectors. The self-published books can also be a great introduction to traditional publishers who have the ability to re-publish a cool book, backed up with their ability to market and distribute books worldwide through traditional channels.
So, stay tuned to Lens Culture to discover some great new work.
Best of luck to all participants this year!