Has Web Publishing hurt Hard Copy?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by davetravis, May 3, 2007.

  1. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    On the surface this question might appear to have an obvious answer.
    I'm just not certain.
    Anyone can "publish" their portfolios onto their own sites, or any number of sites like APUG.
    I'm curious about these questions:
    Are book publishers doing fewer photo books?
    Are photogs as motivated to get a book publisher, now that they can put them on the web?
    Is the quality of web photo material equal to book photo material?
    Has the prestige of being published by traditional means been increased, or decreased, by web publishing?
     
  2. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    With digital, getting pictures online is a cinch. Getting analog pictures online incures a quality penalty, unless you have a really expensive scanner.
     
  3. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    The web has definately turned me from a magazine junkie into someone that rarely ever buys a magazine anymore.
     
  4. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Member

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    Dave,
    It has and it hasn't. Publications that are driven by ad sales suffered pretty hard. Newspapers are loosing subscriptions and loosing ad dollars really fast. With the exception of the Wall Street Journal. They charge for there web content too and are actually making a lot of $$. Book publishers on the other hand are able to make small print runs to test a product or market thanks to the digital age. More titles with smaller volume means they can find a sweet spot with there product offerings.

    I think as a photographer a published work weather in a magazine or a book is a big accomplishment. If you have your own book published then that is the holey grail. Big coffee table type books have a much longer life span than a web site.

    My 2 cents.

    D.
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    The web opened markets like Amazon, and publication ventures like Lulu; it has also slowed down a lot of traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, but then big retail chains had already started the trend.

    However, like jstraw says, hearing about magazines on the web just made me hunt them or sometimes directly subscribing to them online because I can't find them where I live.

    I'm sure the impact has to be qualified by market segment, size, &c of publishers.
     
  6. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Has Web Publishing hurt Hard Copy?

    Yes
     
  7. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I should clarify my statement as regards my own consumption of information.

    Occupancy of the mindshare that once belonged to magazines and that has been replaced by the web has almost entirely been replaced by sites that have nothing to do with magazines that I did or did not read, previously. I don't read American Photographer on or off-line. I read APUG...for example.

    I may read a magazine article online from time to time, if I'm following a link. I have precisely ZERO magazine websites bookmarked.
     
  8. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I think that part of what appears to be the impact of web based publishing is also affected by the trend of younger people to go directly to an online site for what they want, while older people like me still first go to the mom and pop shops (the few that are left) before going online.

    "Are photogs as motivated to get a book publisher, now that they can put them on the web?"

    I think that it is *easier* to self publish online than it is to get a traditional publisher, and this may make it seem like that is how people are going these days, and perhaps it is, but there is also the volume sold using either method to consider...

    "Is the quality of web photo material equal to book photo material?"

    Not even close...

    "Has the prestige of being published by traditional means been increased, or decreased, by web publishing?"

    Vanity presses are still vanity presses, and online publishers still carry very little weight, at least in library circles that I've been involved in. I've yet to see a library that will stock a book published on Lulu or a similar outfit. I would certainly attribute the same level of credibility to a self-published book that I would on a web page - which is to say very little.

    As to magazines that are all online, I have never paid for one, nor will I. The same goes for a book - I want to hold what I read and I have little or no interest in paying for something that can only be seen on a computer screen. Even so, I believe that I am in the shrinking minority now days, as young people seem to embrace the Internet and all things associated with it while eschewing traditional versions of the same things...

    - Randy
     
  9. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I keep hoping Outdoor Photographer will go under.
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Yes, just go to a book store and see. The down side is the up side though. I always wanted some nice hard cover books and now the prices are really low, though the net of course. The down side is the lack of new books.

    I was at a "Half Price Books" chain and found some photo books by a Roger Hicks at less than half price, a give away. I didn't buy them but some one will get a deal.
     
  11. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    One only has to refer to "A Million Little Pieces" or "The Secret" to be reminded of what great bastions of credibility the traditional publishing houses are.:wink:

    Joe
     
  12. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I should add that years and years of Popular and Modern photography and every photo book in the University library was my education in excess to the classes. I used to spend hours and hours in the basement reading the back issues of Popular photography. I loved the ads and the prices. It is a history adventure and I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to do so.
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Curt,

    Which ones, as a matter of interest? Sometimes (for example) they'll put a hardback out of print, and 'out' it at next to nothing, while leaving the softback in print at full price.

    To go back to the OP, though, quite a number of things have hurt 'real' books. One is immediacy. I'm currently updating my book Motorcycle Touring in Europe (Collins, 1985). A specialist travel book like that might have enjoyed a life of 10 years in the past; now, with the chance to check if it's up-to-date on the web, 10 years seems like forever. So what I'm planning is a combination web-plus-paper approach: subscription on the web, plus print-on-demand for a copy you can carry with you.

    Rather more of a problem is the change in publishers themselves. Twenty years ago, there were far more of them and they were far more independently minded. Publishing was famously 'an occupation for gentlemen' and everyone knew the best way to make a small fortune in publishing (start out with a large one).

    Today, many small publishing houses have been Hoovered up by big, accountant-run conglomerates who have a Hollywood mindset: never mind originality, can we copy this book? It's the 'Star Wars VIII' or 'Rocky VI' approach to publishing. The old model was that your successes paid for your failures. The new model is that you rarely lose money on a book (except celebrity autobiographies) but you rarely have many unexpected major successes because you won't take ANY risks at all on ANYTHING out of the ordinary.

    The accountants have also strangled the authors. Twenty years ago, 10% of cover price was the standard royalty. Today, plenty try go get away with 10% of net receipts -- and discounts on cover can go as high as 60%, so with (say) a $30 book, instead of $3, you see $1.20.

    Then there are the booksellers. Again, a few big chains control far more of the proportion of books sold, and as far as I can see, there's a good deal of luck involved in who chooses what.

    Repro quality on the web is crap, there's no doubt, and a lot of what's 'published' on the web is illiterate garbage. Most of it is also free, which is pretty bizarre: people prefer free rubbish to paid-for information that is well-researched, well presented and coherent.

    Then again, the decline of repro houses has led to a decline in publishing image quality too. Most authors submit book pics as electronic files and (surprise, surprise) these are not of the same quality as a drum scan made by a master printer. A friend of mine who is a master printer (and taught drum scanning) taught me a lot, but unsurprisingly, my scans aren't as good as his.

    So yes, 'real' books have declined grievously -- but it ain't just down to the web.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
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  15. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Before the web, every piece of technical advice from the likes of Roger Hicks and the other APUGers who are acknowledged technical experts would have appeared in a magazine and attracted a fee!

    I personally am a full-time industrial journalist, 99% of what I do involves ghost writing, editing, etc. on an anonymous basis, so I like every now and then to publish a magazine article under my own name. In recent years, this has become so unprofitable in comparison with the day job (by a factor of 3 to 4) that I have more or less stopped doing it. The British magazine "Amateur Photographer", for example, recently changed payment for readers' portfolios from £50 a page (low) to £50 per portfolio (even if it covers 3 pages - ludicrous!).

    Is it still prestigious to have a photo book published? Yes - or more like miraculous in view of the many projects which publishers are offered and the very small number which make it into print. If I wanted to do a book project, I would certainly self-publish - I couldn't care less whether it's vanity or not, it's the only way to get a decent return (which will still be modest in the extreme).
     
  16. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    When I started out in photography you learned the technical stuff by taking a course in college and adding to that base by reading the latest magazines or books. Today, you still need the hands on jumpstart that a photography class can teach, but after that you can get all the information you want free off the web. At one time I subscribed to magazines that prvovided a lot of technical articles, now I look for publications with good reproductions of images and articles about the artists and their art. The only exception to that rule would be View Camera. I don't subscribe to it, but find enough good technical content pertinent to LF to compel me to pick up 3 or 4 issues a year off the news stand.

    As far as books ar concerned, I think the web may help some folks get books published and sold. A person can preview images on a web site and gage interest in a potential book, and web sites and participation on sites such as APUG provides free advertising and fosters discussion about such books for the authors. Web based publishing ventures such as Lulu, provide a niche so artists can at least get a taste of being published for a fraction of what it would cost to get a small run of books made.

    Of course quality is somewhat lacking when compared to John Sexton's latest book or the series of books Michael Smith is publishing on Brett Weston. But at least it is a start and with the web publishing industry in its infancy the quality will only get better.
     
  17. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Roger, I am not sure which books they were but the book store is a used book store chain. I believe it was a "series" of books? They don't dump new books, the books they have are by people who take them in for sale and the book store sells them used at a very nice price.
    Curt
     
  18. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Roger,

    I've seen several of your books at Half-Price Books over the last couple of years. Usually multiple copies that may have been remaindered. The only one I can recall specifically was on medium format photography, on my last visit, in softcover if I recall correctly. I think I also recall one on darkroom techniques a bit earlier, and there were two or three on other topics. However, an Aperture hardback of Weston portraits won out on the last visit at $7.98 (list $40). Much of Half-Price Books stock is "new", but they do sell used as well.

    Lee
     
  19. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I've heard recently that there are more and more big companies owning smaller publishers today, and so on, much like what we have seen in other media fields (TV, radio, Internet, etc).

    You mean the "Disney" model? :D
     
  20. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I have a small Lulu-type of self-published (postcard) book out in the Japanese market (mostly online circle), but I don't put the digital images from the book anywhere else because I don't think it helps. The book is a book, and basically the front cover of the book and a little description of the content show what it is.

    Meanwhile I can sell the prints of the same images separately, and I need to keep working on that. The more I get sucked into the traditional photography, the more I feel to stick to the thinking of providing actual photo prints as my work (even though I'm not a pro), rather than a book copy, etc to the people who want to see them.
     
  21. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Actually, print media publishers have always bought smaller "imprint" names. It is the nature of the hard copy print business - and has been for at least a century or so.

    BTW: Microsoft is seeking to buy Yahoo. I think that answers the OP's question more than most of the above.

    Follow the money.....
     
  22. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    But I wonder how those personal websites and blogs of "camera-porn" have affected the sales of the traditional camera product magazines. Also about the copyright and the use of trademark issues, how are they worked out?

    The obvious question is, can anyone just come up with a blog reviewing a new product, showing the trademark of the product and/or the company, and saying whatever he or she wants to say about it in writing?
     
  23. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    First, thanks to Curt and Lee for the information. Remaindering (the sale of runs of new books) is a bizarre business. I think MLF (Medium and Large Format) is out of print but Darkroom Basics was still in print last I heard. Sometimes books are remaindered when they change distributors. I gave up trying to understand it years ago.

    Now, Firecracker, yes, anyone can indeed review any new product on a blog, and there are unlikely to be any issues with trademarks unless they are 'passing off' or otherwise trying to get some sort of financial advantage from the use of the trademark, as distinct from the review itself. And they can say whatever they like as long as it is not libellous.

    The thing is, how much are most of these reviews worth? Often, they'll have spent their own money to buy the kit in question (and therefore need to persuade themselves of the value of their purchase) and they will have very little knowledge of the competition.

    This is where a 'hard copy' reputation comes in handy. First, you can borrow stuff from the manufacturers, interview people there, and so forth (hence my three upcoming factory visits this month, Leica, Zeiss and Manfrotto/Gitzo). Second, you get to handle a lot of kit, allowing a basis for comparison. Third, your readers have some idea of what to expect: they learn your biases, your style, your strengths and weaknesses.

    The reason I've put so much work into www.rogerandfrances.com (including reviews -- I'm working on the Leica M8 at the moment, which I've had 6 months) is that I'm much more interested in (a) how to take pictures and (b) silver halide than in the latest digi SLR and software, and this is not the direction that book or magazine publishers are taking. In fact, a week or two ago I put up a huge new wodge of free modules called 'Basics', largely in response to something I read here on APUG about the dearth of well-informed but really basic information about 'real' cameras.

    Incidentally the M8 is gorgeous, the first digicam under $20,000 I've really wanted as a general-application camera, not just for the convenience of product shots and special applications such as soft focus (Lensbabies and Dreamagons are wonderful on the Nikon D70). But I think the next review/report will be the Alpa.

    Returning to your question, what has hurt magazines most is not 'camera porn' but e-bay and manufacturers'/dealers' web sites. Look at the classifieds and other ads in a Shutterbug from 10-20 years ago and you'll see what I mean. Ads are what pay for most magazines: cover prices would be several times higher without them. Increasingly, the main reason to advertise in magazines is to show your commitment to the medium -- which is also why people sponsor this site!

    Cheers,

    R.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2007
  24. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Thank you for the lengthy response. :smile:
     
  25. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Why should you or I have fewer rights to do this than say, Popular Photography?
     
  26. Removed Account

    Removed Account Member

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    Perhaps it's time to buy a linotype and start APUG(II) The Analog Publisher's Users Group...