Featured post

Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice: Online Course Starting April 27th 2022

  Sign up to my new series of talks on Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice .  Starts on Ap...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

New Publishers

pictures by Maya Rochat's Ma tete a couper

I'm currently writing a feature for the BJP on small publishers. If you hadn't noticed, small publishers are sprouting up all over the place like mushrooms in the rainy season.

So I've been talking to all these people involved in publishing, printing, design and bookselling and what a delight it has been.

Most notably I was pointed in the direction of Delphine Bedel by Bruno Ceschel of Self Publish Be Happy.

Delphine Bedel runs Hard-Copy, a Master's Course in Geneva where students are teamed up with designers to produce their own books. More on this in a later post. You can see Delphine and others talking about publishing at last year's Amsterdam Art/Book Fair here.

Delphine led Ben Freeman at Ditto Press in London - they do all kind of fancy printing work, including risoprinting Maya Rochat's book for Hard-Copy.  My phone then headed up to speak to Alec Soth about Little Brown Mushroom and a Head with wings by Anouk Kruithof.

One thing all these small publishers have in common is a willingness to take a shot in the dark, to experiment and try new things. Unfortunately these things can go a little bit wrong as Alec Soth found out when he was confronted with 500 books that had to be filled with tipped in photographers - Alec can do lots of things but he can't tip photographs to save his life.

That similar Oh-My-God-What-Have-I-Done moment was also experienced by Elijah Gowin of Tinroof Press when his 3 pallet-loads of Of Falling and Floating arrived on his doorstep. See his video on Offprint Paris below - Offprint is a small publishers fair with all sorts of good things floating around.

Offprint Paris 2011 from Elijah Gowin on Vimeo.

The big fish, comparatively speaking, at Offprint was Markus Schaden who co-published Ricardo Cases  pigeon book, Paloma Al Aire. Markus talked of the excitement of the new photobook era but also the danger it posed to him as a publisher, and how everybody has to be everything (photographer, publisher, curator, exhibitor and distributor) these days - something echoed all around by almost everybody.

Markus led directly to Helge Schlaghecke of White Press. Helge published Doug Rickard's A New American Picture which was a google street view book which connected to one of Mr Parr's favourite books which is the CCTV based Looters by Tiane Doan na Champassak

And if anyone is thinking of Christmas present ideas, don't hesitate to get me a Pogo Books Boxed set,
some French elegance at JSBJ or something from Alec Soth's favourite restrained American design of Hassla Books.

See Anouk Kruithof's Happy Birthday To You here.And documentation of the making of it here.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU was published as a result of a conceptual social project by Anouk Kruithof, which she developed during her stay at "HET VIJFDE SEIZOEN" from January to March 2011. This is an artist-in-residence in the area of the psychiatric institution Altrecht in Den Dolder, the Netherlands. Kruithof has interviewed 10 patients about their wishes for their birthday and in accordance with those wishes, she organized and celebrated these birthdays for and with them.

Anouk Kruithof on Christoph Hansli's Mortadella. See the book here. It might be a tad expensive mind.

Now all I have to do is make sense of this chaos. I will try to do so, brought on by an overwhelming wave of optimism, creativity and openness from all the lovely people I spoke to.

And your favourite new publishers? I'd love to hear your ideas.



Johanna said...

Colin you should get in touch with Laurence Vecten French Bruno (she organises Publish it Yourself http://www.publishityourself.org/ & runs a blog one year of books: http://oneyearofbooks.tumblr.com/ )

(My current faves are Fred Lezmi's Sunday books


& what Rob Hornstra is doing too )

Looking forward to reading your article and see what sense you make out of things! I agree it's exciting at the moment - makes me think of 1978 when I was publishing my own fanzines...!


emma said...

Atem Books (independent publishing house based in Spain) & Ubicuo Studio (digital publisher) have published recently a photobook for iPad. I thought that maybe you could be interested also in this kind of innovations :)

Anonymous said...

Pierre von Kleist editions
Independent photobook publisher present at Offprint, Kassel, Amsterdam art/book fair...

Deborah Parkin Photography said...

I find this all so inspiring. I love the idea of small, independent publishers that do this for the love and not necessarily the money (as in profit is not the driving force but the bonus). For me, books are the ultimate & most important means for me seeing & appreciating other people's work. I cannot afford to go around the country going to every exhibition that I would like to see, so a book is a perfect way for me to discover and explore new & old work & more intimate than the internet.
I like the publisher Galerie Vevais because I know it is a small team and is driven by their love of the artist they are publishing. Some of it is on the expensive side, but not everything and having had some of their books I can see a real labour of love has gone into them.
Seeing all these different publishers is great - it's giving people a chance to be seen and heard that may have been overlooked by bigger publishing house because they are not deemed to be commercial enough - & I like that.

colin pantall said...

Thanks for the comments everybody - Johanna, I remember the fanzines in the 70s. Which did you do? And I remember every town seemed to have its own record label for a short period of time as well. Then it fizzled out a bit.

Love the Lezmi books and talked to two of the Mr White's the other day.

Thanks Emma for Atem and thanks for PvK. I think it's a lot to do with the DIY ethic and a demystification of book making (the thing that follows the demystification is the remystification of course) Deborah. I'll send you some more links - there's so much out there.

Microcord said...

Ahem ... I think that Emma who mentioned Atem may herself not be entirely unrelated to Atem. However, I am unrelated to Atem and I warmly (and disinterestedly) recommend it.

I like Poursuite too.

And Vacuum Press.

Above, Johanna mentions "what Rob Hornstra is doing". I too admire this. But what Rob is doing is publishing his own work, while as I read it you're fishing for small companies that publish others' work.

Oh, Rob doesn't only publish his (and Arnold's) work, he also posts it off. And does so well. He's heard of such extraordinary novelties as bubblewrap and knows how to use them. In this he's very different from several small publishers, whose idea of packaging a book for the rigors of air freight is to chuck it into a brown envelope. (As I look at their packaging, I start to wonder if several of these enterprising new publishers actually hate physical books as much as amazon.com does.)

Here's a small publisher: Backstreet Books. It published Crash Burn Love (excellent!) six years ago. It doesn't appear to have published anything since (or before?). But it's still going strong. (Actually it's just one part of the giant Lodima publishing empire.)

colin pantall said...

Thanks Microcord - and thanks for the ideas. Emma mentioned she is connected to Atem elsewhere and promoting your label is what it's all about.

It's all a grey area with self publishing, artist's books and everything - but I'm trying to make sense of it slowly but surely.

microcord said...

Colin, I phrased myself rather poorly above. (I should have gone to bed instead of using the smaller, approximately awake part of my brain to attempt a message.) But for the sake of precision, to "I am unrelated to Atem" please add "other than as a very satisfied customer". (And, as it happens, of Emma in person.)

Interesting small publishers include Meier u. Müller (surely you know, but a little reminder). Interesting self-publishers include Où est passée la journée d'hier and Takiura Hideo.

But what most fascinates me is the publishing of Arif Aşçı's wonderful, vast, and excellently produced İstanbul Panorama. (If the series sounds familiar, you may have seen examples in the book Street Photography Now.) The book first appears to have been published by a company called A4 Ofset, but the URL provided shows that A4 Ofset is, unsurprisingly, a printing company. (Skipping one or two slow-to-load prefatory Flash pages, we eventually get to the gist in English here.) So my guess is that Aşçı simply paid A4 Ofset to do all the production work for 1500 copies of this stunning book and that he is in a sense the self-publisher. The price in Turkey (I hazily infer via Google Translate) is quite a bit lower than that of several much smaller books from blurb.com (e.g. Rafał Milach's Black Sea of Concrete). While I hope that there'll be no trend toward gigantism in self-published books, the economics of this book intrigues me. It's a little job for any Turkish-speaking research assistant who may be working for Pantall Enterprises.

colin pantall said...

Thanks Microcord - what's your name? Are you involved in Japan Exposures?

microcord said...

Hallowed -- no, Microcord be my name. I've bought two books from Japan Exposures, had a lens converted through JE, and occasionally (at exhibition openings or similar) met the two men who run JE. And that's about it.

®© said...

You should also have a look at RVB Books and Poursuite éditions in Paris.