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  1. #1

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    Photography Books

    Well, with the death of Leonard Freed, I took another trip to the Magnum site and looked at his work. I've seen a number of his photos in various books, but never sought his work. I really like Black in White America. So, I looked for it online and, like almost every other classic book, it's out of print. Why the hell are all the great books out of print? Is the cost of keeping them in circulation prohibitive? I have a belief that, like anything else, if you place a book like The Americans on a display near the entrance of a book store and draw attention to its classic status, people will show interest. I'm sure there is a fair amount of politics involved in the sales promotions of major book stores, but I persist in my thinking.

    Similarly, as much as people bemoan the loss of this or that film or paper, which is understandable to a degree, I never hear complaints about the availability of the seminal photography works. In addition to my long time interest in documenting my world, it was seeing books by a few photographers that made pick up a camera in the first place. They gave me the inspiration to go from thinking to doing. I consider the viewing of good photos to be a very important part of my photographic life. I wish I could get affordable copies of the classics. If anyone knows of any good sources, let me know.

    Jmal

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmal View Post
    Why the hell are all the great books out of print? Is the cost of keeping them in circulation prohibitive?
    Jmal
    No, but all too many publishers suffer from the Rocky XXVI/Star Wars XXXIII syndrome. They want another book like the last big success. The content and backlist potential do not necessarily impinge on their consciousness.

    Cheers,

    R. (check the book list at www.rogerandfrances.com to see my exerience of the publishing world... I'm not saying my books are great, but I do have a lot of experience of having books published)

  3. #3
    copake_ham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmal View Post
    Well, with the death of Leonard Freed, I took another trip to the Magnum site and looked at his work. I've seen a number of his photos in various books, but never sought his work. I really like Black in White America. So, I looked for it online and, like almost every other classic book, it's out of print. Why the hell are all the great books out of print? Is the cost of keeping them in circulation prohibitive? I have a belief that, like anything else, if you place a book like The Americans on a display near the entrance of a book store and draw attention to its classic status, people will show interest. I'm sure there is a fair amount of politics involved in the sales promotions of major book stores, but I persist in my thinking.

    Similarly, as much as people bemoan the loss of this or that film or paper, which is understandable to a degree, I never hear complaints about the availability of the seminal photography works. In addition to my long time interest in documenting my world, it was seeing books by a few photographers that made pick up a camera in the first place. They gave me the inspiration to go from thinking to doing. I consider the viewing of good photos to be a very important part of my photographic life. I wish I could get affordable copies of the classics. If anyone knows of any good sources, let me know.

    Jmal

    I think there has always been a rather limited market for photographic books. In part, the production costs require fairly high prices which is a "turn off" to many. Also, there are many competing media vying for the consumers attention.

    Additionally, with the demise of the pictorial magazines (e.g. LIFE) - the notion of photographic presentations and essays as form entertainment and information has probably faded.

    On the plus side, if you seek out used book stores (we have a great one buried deep in the woods in Copake) you will find all kinds of classic photo books available for a very low price. I picked up a Karsh retrospective covering his American famous persons portraits from the 1940's to the 1980's for about $10 - and it was in excellent condition. Had everyone from Lena Horne to Winston Churchill (remember his Mom was an American!) and so many others.

    Hit the used book stores and build up your photo library!

  4. #4

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    Roger,

    That's certainly true. By the way, I do have one of your darkroom books (and refer to it often), but I have not seen any of your pure photo books.

    George,

    I live in a large, metropolitan area (just outside of D.C), but all the used book stores I hit are devoid of good photography books. Maybe there are more people looking for these things in an urban area. Anyhow, I did find a good Winogrand book, as well as Eggleston's Los Alamos (still in print I believe), at a used store in Kansas of all places. Los Alamos is incredible. Having good size, quality reproductions really makes a difference. You can see the thickness of the ink on the page, which gives the photos a real sense of depth. Even for those who don't like Eggleston, this book is essential. By far the best colors I've seen in a book. I'm open for challenges on that one, however.

    Jmal

  5. #5
    Robert Brummitt's Avatar
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    On the plus side, if you seek out used book stores (we have a great one buried deep in the woods in Copake) you will find all kinds of classic photo books available for a very low price. I picked up a Karsh retrospective covering his American famous persons portraits from the 1940's to the 1980's for about $10 - and it was in excellent condition. Had everyone from Lena Horne to Winston Churchill (remember his Mom was an American!) and so many others.

    Hit the used book stores and build up your photo library! [/QUOTE]

    I'm currently reading Karshs autobiography called "In Search of Greatness". It's light with not much photography but I believe its important to have an understanding of what is involve in wonderful photography. I had found this book at the local use bookstore for $5. A treasure for me.
    Current photography books can be pricey but if its someone you admire then buy it. This last year I think I've added to my library of books with these photographers. John Sextons, Matha Casanave, Jerry Wolfe, Steve Anchell, Mona Kuhn, Bruce Barnbaum, Arnold Newman and two books on the subject of photography. One called "Collecting Photography" by Gerry Badger and one of a personal history of Photography called "Photography, History and science" by Gerald H. Robinson.
    After reading the Karsh book. I plan to read Richard Whelan's biography book on Stieglitz. From there. Who knows?
    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit"
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  6. #6
    Bill Hahn's Avatar
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    It's surprising what's out of print - try to buy a brand new collection of O. Henry's Complete works. (Famous American short story writer - look up "The Ransom of Red Chief"....)

    To back up what George said:

    I made a deal with a local used book store that they would inform me via email me of any photo-related books coming into their inventory (but then I've been a customer for 15+ years). I also make a point of stopping by even when I don't get emails. Through them I got a copy of Strand's "Time In New England", Ansel Adams' "The American Wilderness", plus I found out about obscure New England photographers like Chansonetta Stanley Emmons.
    "I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright

  7. #7
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    I have more books than storage so the library is my friend and I have a good bit of storage

    I was recently surprised to discover that my $10 Michael Grecco paperback runs for $149 and up on Amazon these days.....

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmal View Post
    Similarly, as much as people bemoan the loss of this or that film or paper, which is understandable to a degree, I never hear complaints about the availability of the seminal photography works. In addition to my long time interest in documenting my world, it was seeing books by a few photographers that made pick up a camera in the first place. They gave me the inspiration to go from thinking to doing. I consider the viewing of good photos to be a very important part of my photographic life. I wish I could get affordable copies of the classics. If anyone knows of any good sources, let me know.

    Jmal
    I know what you mean. Realistically, books should be affordable but some of these out of print titles are only available for a small fortune. Try getting your hands on some Josef Koudelka books - you'd think that at least 'the Gypsies' would be reprinted. Same goes for Gilles Peress 'Telx: Iran'.

  9. #9
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    A university arts library is your best friend: they buy the expensive folios because students and researchers need them, they have rare books collections, and they usually buy pretty much anything important (depending on how well funded they are anyway), and are not sickly full of copies from the 1989 beginner's guide to the Nikon AF-ZM12312-UVXYZ with full-extra-super-duper features to make better photos.

    I have found David Douglas Duncan's War Without Heroes at mine (McGill), and that's a book that was never reprinted after the original run. It's beautiful.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  10. #10

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    Don't mean to hijack the thread BUT, The Ransom of Red Chief is the greatest short story of all time unless its The Gift of the Magi. Okay back to your regulary scheduled program......

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