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OPLIN 4Cast #307: More books for the coffee table

Posted in 4cast

A couple of recent news items about publishing caught our attention and got us thinking. Bowker reported that “the number of print and ebooks self-published annually is up by 287 percent since 2006.” That’s not really a big surprise, we all probably suspected something like that. Also, it seems that publishers of photo-rich coffee table books are doing quite well in comparison to the rest of the industry. Which is also not a surprise to anyone who’s browsed the shelves of a big bookstore lately. So has anyone thought to combine these two trends? Of course they have.

  • Is the photobook the new self-publishing phenomenon? (The Independent Publishing Magazine/Mick Rooney)  “It’s no coincidence that we have seen a marked increase in photo and image cloud services like Flickr, Instagram and Picasa. We are living in a highly image-laden world and we may be about to see the written word concede considerable ground to the visual image. Post anything up to your Facebook or Google+ account and you can be assured the ones with photographs or graphic images will garner the most interest and traffic. The social network Pinterest has built its entire platform around the visual image. Sometimes a few words along with a strong image can deliver a more powerful message than a thousand words.”
  • Self publishing a photo book with print on demand [review] (More than Photography/Nitsa)  “Almost every digital printing service on the net offers to create an impressive coffee table photo book for you using the beautiful images you shot during your recent vacation to Hawaii. Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, DotPhoto, Wallgreens Photo Center to name a few. And they are all fantastic and will supply you with a great service and a high quality photo book. However, most of these services will charge a relatively high price for these books and do not offer you a place to sell these books to potential customers.”
  • The DIY photobook phenomenon (The Guardian/Sean O’Hagan)  “SPBH [Self Publish, Be Happy] is the brainchild of writer and academic Bruno Ceschel. It was founded with the aim of ‘celebrating, studying and promoting self-published photobooks’ via events, publications and the web. Not strictly a publisher, SPBH runs workshops that show photographers how to make and distribute their own books, posting the results on their daily blog and acting as a repository of knowledge.”
  • Opinion: iBooks Author – why photographers should care (BorrowLenses/Sohail Mamdani)  “If you write something that’s compelling enough, that you put enough of an effort into marketing, then you stand a pretty good chance of making some money. Those chances are a lot better than the chances of you getting picked up by, say, Peachpit to write a book for them. Now you have the tools to create your own photography book with a layout and look that’s aesthetically pleasing, and the means to distribute that book.”

Money fact:
Before you decide to get rich by selling a self-published photo book of your trip to the zoo, keep in mind that most of the digital publishing companies mentioned in the articles above make money by selling only a few copies each of thousands of titles and then keeping about 20% of the cash from each sale.