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.


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!