There other day, there was an article over at La Pura Vida about All the Photobooks I’ll Never See. Writes Bryan: “It’s really amazing that so many people can produce them these days, but who the hell is actually looking at all of them? And is it possible to create a distribution system that enables more people to see more photobooks?” This had me thinking. What if the distribution wasn’t really a problem if you wanted to see photobooks? (more)
Like probably many other people I own quite a few photobooks, yet when seeing other people’s collection I’m wondering about all the books I’m missing out on. But here’s the thing: While it’s fun to look through a friend’s library, the real fun comes when the friend pulls out a book and asks “Have you seen this? You might like it.” I’ve frequently noticed that I overlooked those recommended books - a real-life case of confirmation bias I suppose.
Which then had me thinking that instead of trying to amass a huge library or to get access to a huge library something else might actually be way more fun: Imagine meeting up with a group of friends regularly, with everybody bringing one photobook, and with everybody presenting her/his book, showing it around. You might end up seeing a lot of books you already know, but you’d probably hear a lot of things you never thought of. Plus you’d be able to discover a lot of books.
It would take the kinds of recommendations you can find on online shopping websites and bring them to real life. And it would create a super-library of sorts, because assuming you trust all your friends you could borrow (and loan) photobooks easily. All you need are a few friends you could do this with - in places like New York, Santa Fe, Chicago, Portland, London, Berlin, etc. etc. etc. a real breeze!
One could even imagine taking these groups a little further, by coordinating the groups in different places via some website. So if you travel somewhere you could look up a group and come by (you’d need to bring a book, of course). In fact, one could then even organize larger meet-ups… Actual conferences about photobooks, with the focus on presenting books. The possibilities seem endless.
Of course, this idea is not new. People have been doing these kinds of things with books for a long time. But for the photobook it might be new. And even if it’s not new - it seems like exactly one of the possible solutions for the problem described in Bryan’s article.