New Wave 4: Donlon Books

Photographers are publishing their own books in ever greater numbers but they still need to find ways of getting them to readers. One way of doing this is through sympathetic independent bookshops. Donlon books, specialises in art and photography books. This has made them one of the first ports of call for the growing group of collectors looking for those hard-to-find self-published titles.

One of the ways information about these books and outlets spreads is via social media so I thought I would invite a photographer I knew only through Twitter, Brian David Stevens (aka @driftingcamera) to join me in visiting the shop for the first time and talking to the people that run it. As it turned out Brian has published zines of his own with Hamburger Eyes and was not short of opinions about the recent boom in self publishing and the market it has created.

The man behind (or rather, in the middle of) Donlon Books is Conor Donlon. After working for Wolfgang Tillmans for six years he started the venture, initially connected to Herald Street Gallery but then later in a beautiful old shop in North East London. Conor, although not wanting to alienate his customers, says he finds the photography world 'very narrow in what it appreciates' (a sentiment echoed by Brian) and that 'ninety percent of the books that Steidl produce are just a little bit dull'. In a nice, if rather unexpected, synchronicity with another interview he even complains that the photo world is made up of 40-year-old men (notwithstanding his own proximity to that club). Having said all that, his own sense of humour and the vigour with which he seeks out the varied stock that he sells is the best argument for the continued vitality of independent art and photography publishing.

Source Issue 73 - The New Wave

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