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

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A and E Books


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.



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Paper Tigers Books


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.


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Brown Owl Press


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.



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Rick Pushinsky


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.



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The Archivist


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.



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Photobook Bristol: Selling Books

publishers tables, image Hannah Watson

publishers tables, image Hannah Watson

Sonia Berger is one of the founders of Dalpine an online bookshop and publisher. She previously worked in a publishing house. She believes that the growth in photobooks is partly due to the financial crash which put photographers out of work (gave them more time to pursue their own projects). Asked if there is a general audience for photobooks she says Paloma al Aire by Ricardo Cases has reached a wide audience. In general however, 'Few people outside the photography or design world are interested' but she thinks they may become interested when they see what the photobook has to offer.

Meanwhile, in the UK the Photobookstore, run by Martin Amis does a similar job in making available those self published or exotic books that are hard to find elsewhere. Martin had a stand and was selling books at Photobook Bristol for the third year. He said he thought there were probably the same number of good books produced as in the past but, since so many more titles were produced each year, if in smaller numbers, this would imply there were a lot more bad books. What had changed was that there was no distribution to shops like Waterstones. This was a recurrence of the theme I'd heard most often repeated in one form or another, the lack of a mainstream alternative: the publishers or distributors who could find a bigger audience for the photobook.

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Photobook Bristol: Words and Niches

Colin Pantall introduces a talk. Picture Mark Power

Colin Pantall introduces a talk. Picture Mark Power

Colin Pantall is one of the Creative Directors of Photobook Bristol as well as being a blogger and a senior lecturer at Newport. He says Photobook Bristol is not just an event for niche publishers. He says he tweeted an invitation to Kim Kardashian to take part as she has published a photobook.

More surprisingly, he says that he doesn't think there is any 'true critical writing on photobooks at the moment' and more generally, questions if there is any critical writing about photography at all, of any kind, which I expect will be a disappointment to many writers, especially coming from a senior university lecturer who, after all, should know. This may be merely a question of terminology, Colin explains his position with reference to a book by Susie Linfield called Cruel Radiance (the relevant section of which is here) that argues that too many people who have written about photography haven't actually liked it. This may explain why he declares himself 'biased' in favour of the medium and calls for a new way of talking about photography that examines the writer's own role in interpreting it.

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Photobook Bristol: Shooting from the Hip


Rudi Thoemmes is the founder and Director of Photobook Bristol. He is also a book dealer, running the website RRB Photobooks (which I learnt stands for Rudi's Rare Books). Photobook Bristol is a four day event with talks by publishers, photographers and other people generally concerned with photography books. It takes place in the South Bank Club and describes itself as 'cosy' which, as a matter of fact, it is: it has a bar, a good-sized room and stage for the talks and another large room for publishers to sell their books in. The atmosphere is relaxed and a lot of the people in attendance seem to know each other.

During a talk Rudi and I stepped outside and he told me about the festival. He said that the aim was to to encourage candid conversation about the photobook world. He had some trenchant things to say about the realities of photobook publishing: 'probably 95% of the books published are paid for by the photographers', about why you don't need a 'fancy Dutch designer' and the consequence of subsidy: making books nobody wants. A lot of this is very reminiscent of a conversation I had four years ago with Tim Borton of the distributor Art Data.

Rudi also said the Arts Council grant for the Arnolfini (a gallery in Bristol) was a waste because 'they hadn't done anything for years', that the Photographers' Gallery was 'conservative and very niche' and that Offprint is 'hyped up'. Rudi is vague about whether the publicly-funded photography galleries around the country are any good (or even aware they exist), but he says 'it would be nice to have a regional alliance of galleries' and from my perspective it seems odd that there is so little exchange between these new photography events (Photobook Bristol, Offprint, Photo London) and the older photography galleries (Photographers' Gallery, Open Eye, Stills, Impressions, Ffotogallery etc.). This may be because of the different focus of galleries and publishers or perhaps it is because these new events are really the creation of the internet – where photobooks are discussed and traded – where the galleries are less prominent or more concerned with their local audience.

So was it worth a trip to Bristol? I enjoyed the talks, especially Martin Parr's conversation with Krass Clement. The food was good. The book dealers had books I wouldn't see anywhere else. The convivial mix of enthusiasts, invited guests and organisers works very well. The community may have been formed elsewhere but it is events like this that reaffirm its purpose.

dancing, image Miriam O'Connor

Dancing at the afterparty, image Miriam O'Connor

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Publishers at Offprint London

At Offprint I took the opportunity to speak to some publishers I only knew from reviewing their books. APE (or Art Paper Editions) produce varied unpredictable books. Jurgen Maelfeyt, the publisher, explained their ethos and also described how they only became an ongoing publisher when a visit to a previous Offprint Fair had been a success (an example of a publishing fair creating a publisher).

Clare Kelly of Hesse Press had some interesting reflections on her responsibilities to the artists she publishes who, although they are a small publisher, get 100 copies and a fee. She also noticed a difference in the publishing scene at Offprint and in the US where there is no public subsidy and, as she saw it, people were more open to say where their money had come from.

Edward Newton, who runs Highchair Editions with his brother James, supports himself and the family publishing habit by working in a pub.

Trine Stephenson launched the fifth edition of The Plantation Journal at Offprint. It is a kind of anthology around a theme and functions like a printed exhibition, on this occasion entitled 'Sculptural Corners'. Of course she also has a presence on the web and social media but explains that a printed magazine is something you can talk to people about when you meet them.

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