I have been thinking about photography books a lot lately (for various reasons), and I have been noticing that there isn’t much of a variety in photo books, is there? Basically, you have monographs - bodies of work by one artist, and you sometimes have books about collections or museum shows. As much as I love looking at the books produced these days (not all of them, of course), it’s just amazing to see that there does not look as if there was a publisher willing to take a risk (at least not one of the big ones), willing to do something completely different. I know, it’s a tough and expensive business - but in principle, the medium photo book could offer so much more than, well, just monographs or books about collections/shows.
For example, while everybody and their grandmother is a curator now - as Lisa just noted, her selection of shoes might indeed be curated - I don’t remember seeing any curated books, books where someone does in book form what you usually see in a gallery or museum.
So while monographs themselves are often cutting-edge (of course there is the nth book of truly terrible photography by some rock star or aging fashion designer, and I do feel just a little bad about saying - knowing how tough a business book making is. But still!), the format itself is so conservative!
Of course, I hope that I’m completely wrong and that there are all those great experiments by smaller publishers - I’d be happy to talk about them here. But I wish large publishers would occasionally take more of a risk - and by risk I don’t mean producing oversized books that fit in anybody’s book shelve or by publishing a risky monograph. There is so much else one can do… Where are the experiments?