Roger Willems is a graphic designer and the man behind Roma Books who are known for their elegant and well produced art books, including photobooks. Dana Lixenberg's Imperial Courts, which recently won the Deutsche Börse Prize, was a Roma publication, as was Batia Suter's Parallel Encyclopedia.
Willems explains that he was initially attracted to the design of old museum catalogues, like those made by Willem Sandberg of the Stedelijk Museum in the 1950s (who is currently the subject of an exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion). Unusually, Sandberg, as well as being the Designer in Chief, was also the Director of the Museum so no one could tell him what to do. Willems says that his ideal job had been to work for a museum but he subsequently found that in museums design had become a function of the public relations of the institution and that he was more interested in working more closely with artists and without intervening layers of bureaucracy.
He also talked about the joys and discomforts of being in charge of his own output, in particular the misunderstandings and expectations around money, where success can cause as much difficulty as failure.
If you self-publish a photobook how will you find someone to buy it and read it? Of course this happens via the internet but people like to feel a physical book in their hands and discover their books in actual shops. And getting the book into the shop is the role of the distributor. Adeline Mannarini, started Anagram to deal with exactly those titles that conventional publishers and outlets would steer clear of. She particularly likes the independent bookshops, like Tipitin, that will give space to unusual books. There are shops like this all over Europe she says, although selling self-published photobooks is not a way to get rich.
Justine Ellis laughs easily. She is the co-founder of Perimeter Books in Melbourne with her husband Dan Rule. It is clear from their website that their shop must be a hub for photographers and anyone interested in photobooks in Australia. What is notable (apart from her obvious enjoyment of what she does) is her outward-looking attitude to the photography world. Perimeter sell their books at photo fairs in the US and UK and manage to combine this with keeping their shop stocked with international books for their own customers. They even invite submissions. It's enough to make you want to go to Melbourne.
Ivan Vartanian knows all about Japanese photography. He had a table at Offprint for his imprint Goliga, so we took a few minutes to talk about his experience of working in Japan and the difference between photographic publishing there and in the US where he had formerly worked for Aperture.
The last of my interviews from the Photomonth book fair in which I speak to Maxwell Anderson. He explains the origin of the name Bemojake. He recounts his apprenticeship with publisher Chris Boot and gives utterance to his dream to employ a sales and press executive.
Short Flashes Wiktoria Wojciechowska
The collective A and E books are a loose association of six or more photographers. I spoke to them about why they formed a group and what they plan to do in future. As you can see from the publications on their table they owe more to book arts / hand made books than the usual photobook formats, hopefully not in such small editions that they are impossible to get hold of in future.
Another week, another book fair. This time as part of Photomonth we were at a small publisher's fair at The Printspace. Once again everyone was very friendly (plentiful tea and biscuits) and I met a number of small publishers I'd not met before, starting with Laura Braun of Paper Tigers Books.
Among her books Laura had made a flip book which she demonstrated for me. Who doesn't enjoy a flip book.
Al Palmer started Brown Owl Press in 2013. We were at neighbouring tables at the Brighton Photo Fringe Book Fair so we had a chat about the type of books he wants to publish and the experience of working with photographers.
Also at the Brighton Fringe Book Fair was Rick Pushinsky selling his recent book, a personal project that had been published by Sternthal Books. I asked him about the choice between self publishing and working with a publisher.
Source was at The Brighton Photo Fringe Book Fair at the weekend. As ever there were an array of small publishers so I took the chance to speak to a few of them. First up was Michael Harrison of The Archivist a sober and elegant magazine / journal. I didn't get much chance to look at it beyond an initial impression of its high production values so I'll let Michael explain what it's about.