Just FYI -- I've offered to put a proper survey together so that we have hard numbers (hopefully) of what people want and expect. Whether we do this by dictatorship or democratic means, at least we can get an idea from the answers of which direction to go in (because there are way too many opinions, valid though they may be, floating around).
Joel and I have already discussed a number of issues, but if you have any ideas or questions that you think should be in the survey, please let me know (pm or forum post) and I'll add them in.
There needs to be more open discussion and many more ideas bandied about first.
I think that was a good idea.. :D
An open letter to all APUG members.
I have been asked to consider publishing an APUG book. Here is what I have come up with. Sorry if some of this will be repetitive.
I can easily put the book together, design the book (other designers would actually do the work in InDesign), select the photographs, and all at a price that all APUG members can afford. I expect to be met with hostility, "Who does he think he is, trying to take over," kind of thing. So be it. I do not need to be everyone's friend. I will certainly solicit and be open to all suggestions. But final decisions will be mine.
Based on my photography book publishing experience (www.lodimapress.com), I can guarantee a beautiful book, printed in offset, that all APUGers will be proud of.
No publisher will ever put up any money to publish such a book. Photography books, unless the photographer is VERY famous do not sell well. Through Photo-Eye, maybe a couple of books would sell, tops. On Amazon, maybe a dozen. As detailed below, I would be paid for my time (at half my customary rate) and if there are any profits they would be returned to those who put up the money and/or to Sean to go to APUG. I am not doing this for the money.
How much would a book cost? This question cannot be answered until the following questions have been answered.
1. Trim size of the book. That is page size.
2. Number of pages
3. Size of print run.
4. Hardbound or Softbound?
5. If hardbound: dust jacket or tipped in plate on front?
6. If softbound: flaps?
7. There are other things, but I can fill those in.
These questions cannot be answered until the photographs have been selected. How to select the photographs?
The most important thing, if it is to be a valuable book, and not just an ego-gratifying thing, would be for all of the photographs selected to be museum quality--in vision and in technique. Who on APUG can evaluate that? Well, I can, along with Paula's input. When I juried an exhibition long ago, with a photographer who painted on her color photographs, she ended up selecting most of the black and white ones, and I ended up selecting most of the color and manipulated ones. Most of the black and white work was not up to my standards, and most of the other work was not up to hers. So no one should think that because I work in black and white, my taste is limited. I do not care how a photograph is made, or what process is used, as long as it is made well. All I am concerned about is excellence. And since I never go the APUG Gallery section, I am totally unfamiliar with almost every member's work, except for the couple of people I happen to know personally.
Now, when putting a book together I always go for the ideal. If it is too expensive, either more money can be raised, or the ideal can be revised downward.
My thoughts on the book are this: one photograph per photographer. Each photograph would be on a full page. Ideally, so that it can do the photographers some good, on the page opposite his or her photograph, there would be a small portrait of the photographer, a brief bio, a brief artist's statement, and full contact information. Photographs sequenced in alphabetical order by photographer's last name. Except that color and black and white would be printed in different sections. When black and white and color are printed together, black and white gets printed in four-color, rather than with grays and blacks, and there is always a strange color-cast to the work. One could run the sheets through twice, once in color, and then a second time for the black and white work, but that doubles printing costs.
Only one photograph by each photographer can be submitted. One of the problems here is, "Do the photographers know which is their best work?" Often not, we have found. So the photographers will need to be objective about their work and do some very serious editing.
Here is how I see the selection process going. Scans would be emailed, or prints would be mailed, to a third person who would make sure all identifying information as to who the photographer is was removed. He would number each scan or print and Paula and I would look at them with no knowledge of who the maker is or what process was used. In this way, there will be no bias of any sort whatsoever. Our decisions would be based entirely on the photograph itself.
How many photographs would be selected? It depends on how many we think are excellent. It could be 50, 100, 150, whatever it turns out to be. More rather than fewer will make a less expensive book per page.
Once that is done, a quote can be gotten. If the quote seems too high, then revisions can be made. The small portrait, bio, etc., could be put on the same page as the photograph and photographs would be on facing pages. That would make the book considerably less expensive to produce—less paper, fewer print runs, but before I would automatically go that route, I would want to see what the ideal would cost.
Now, let’s assume photographs have been selected and a reasonable quote has been received. How to pay for the book? All money needed would need to be in hand before the book is produced.
Taking numbers at random here is how I propose the money be raised. Each photographer selected would pay $100 ($200?) for their page. In return they would receive books that would make up their cost. So if books were selling for $25 and if photographers put up $100, they would each receive four books. Probably not enough money would be raised from that, so since the market (and probably the ONLY market) for this book are APUGers, pre-production sales would be made to APUGers. Since there are, what, 15,000 members, I would hope sufficient money could be raised to cover all costs, perhaps 500 to 1,000 pre-production sales.
Another way to raise money for the book--something Paula and I always do--is for the photographers who are selected to offer their print at a reduced price to APUG members. They could, for example, keep half of that money and put the other half toward the book. This is just a suggestion.
This book will not sell to the greater public. Sales could be attempted, but trust me, they will be so minimal as to be discounted entirely when planning. It will be up to APUGers to support it.
If this gets going, we will ask Sean to write an introductory essay about the history of APUG—his starting APUG and its evolution. If he will have trouble doing that, Paula and I can help him.
Selecting the photographs: I would not charge anything for my time to do that. I would be "on the clock" for all other details. My cutting my rates in half is my donation to the project.
I am not doing this to make money. In fact, between my own photography, which comes first, and Lodima Press, our having a second run made of Lodima silver chloride paper, and overseeing Lodima Archival Materials, I will lose money by spending my time on this.
Agreeing to do this is risky for me, as Paula and I have so much to do--and I know she will hit the ceiling if she thinks I am taking this on, so if there are serious objections to what I propose here, I will happily drop out.
Whether submissions are open only to subscribers, advertisers, and sponsors to APUG or not would not be my decision, but a general consensus decision. I think it is a good idea to so limit it. Someone else would need to monitor that. Those who are not currently subscribers might subscribe just so they could enter a photograph.
If this is successful it could be repeated at regular intervals.
Assuming the response to my proposal here is positive and you would like to participate send notice of your interest to the APUG member who goes by "guitstik." This was his idea. I have been in touch with him. When he is ready to receive the scans or prints, he will let us all know. There will be a cut-off date for submissions.
Oh yes, scans. Photographers selected will be required to submit hi-res tiffs at 360 dpi. If they are unable to do that, we can do it here as we have fine flat-bed scanners and top-of-the-line drum scanners. But there will be a charge for that.
There has been talk of a doing a survey. As I see it, the only questions that are needed to be asked are: Are you willing to participate, either by submitting a photograph and agreeing to pay your share if selected, and if not selected (or if you are not submitting), are you willing to buy a copy of the book if it is priced at, say, $40 or less? Someone else can figure out how to do the survey.
I think I covered most everything needed to get started if enough APUG members are interested.
Michael A. Smith
Michael, thanks for taking the time to write the above. I have several Lodima books, they are all elegant and beautifully printed to say the least. I am confident this project would be in good hands if Lodima was involved. Since this is such a huge undertaking it is easy for me to expect a publisher to maintain a high degree of control which is fair enough in my opinion. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and since the community will be involved I would rather they mostly work these questions out with you. They will be the customer. I suppose the sooner we can determine how many would pre-order the book the sooner we can determine if the project is viable. I am also seeing this as something that could possibly coincide with APUG's 10yr anniversary on Sept. 2012. I'm sure we'll be in touch if the community wishes to move forward.
September 2012 is a realistic deadline to have a finished printed book. That would mean the book needs to be finished design ready to go near the end of the year or by April at the latest. The photography part is the easiest. Editing each person's text will take the longest amount of time.
Yes, before any work gets done we'll see if the APUG members are willing to step up to the plate.
How to do the very simple survey? A separate thread? All we need are two questions as mentioned in my "open letter."
In my opinion, considering all of the money that APUG photographers spend on cameras, lenses, film, and paper, surely the expense of a book is not that great, relatively speaking. Although I am more than well aware it will be a stretch for some. When I was in my forties on my first trip to Europe there was a postcard with a great photograph that I wanted to buy. It cost a nickel. I spent about a half-hour (!) trying to decide if I could afford it. I decided I could not afford it. So I well know about expenses being a stretch.
Michael A. Smith
If I sent an 11x14 print in to be scanned for consideration, how much would that cost?
I would be interested in participating in this book project, but I would have to set a boundary for how much I can spend. Is that a reasonable thought, to post a limit of how much I'm willing to spend before the project is undertaken?
I appreciate you considering this task, Michael. It's fairly clear that the main market would be APUG members, because what joins us all isn't necessarily purely from an artistic standpoint, but rather that of using film and darkroom to achieve our photography goals, and that is something else entirely, as passionate as one may be about that topic.
- Thomas Bertilsson
For me, like most, it all depends on how much as well.
I suppose what would be best is to run some scenario's past you.
Lets say 50 members want to be involved and lets say we produce a 120 page (60 sheets) book with hard cover (2 pages per member + 20 pages of fluff and text). I am not sure on sizing, but I would suggest a minimum of 8x10inch pages or even A4.
Now, using the 50 member base, I would think that anything more then a 100 book run would be a waste. So, how much would that cost in round about figures per unit (based on what you have said and the services that you would offer)? How would this change if there was 200 books produced? How would this change if say we went for say 100 sheets?
How would this change if artwork was supplied. What about scanning? Would it be up to you, the publisher, to scan/digitise the images or would it be acceptable that images are supplied, as long as they met a base specification (I know if this was the case, I would be paying a professional to scan my prints)?
This smacks of the dreaded competition. How is the work selected? If it is one judge as suggested above, the only potentially sensible comparitive evaluation of submissions would be on the basis of print quality. If on the other hand selection is some giant democratic process, that would be way worse as selection would be based on either the most universally popular styles/subject matter, a personal popularity contest, or a showcase if the "in" thing and alternative processes, all to the possible/likely exclusion of superb (aesthetically and technically) work. Good luck.
I disagree. The whole point of having one jurist is to have the final cut represent the jurist as well as the artists. If a jurist is on a kick about one concept, idea, or subject, so be it. That is why you select a single jurist – to infuse the "show" (book in this case) with his or her subjective outlook. It's not supposed to be "fair." It's supposed to be a collaborative artistic production. Attempting any sort of objectivity in the arts is pointless, as it is impossible. And selecting work based solely on it's technical merits is the surest way to end up with a book that is not worth looking at IMHO. There are a lot of good technicians here and everywhere. Technique is easy, because it is set in stone, and all it takes is practice. A very small percentage of those technicians actually create interesting content to me. A person who is poor technically and strong conceptually can always improve. It doesn't work the other way IMO. So, I think fairness and objectivity need to go out the window very early in this process, and a creative voice needs to take the lead, not someone hell bent on pleasing everyone.
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974