New Wave 7: Tipitin

The photographer John MacLean was the perfect companion to visit a bookshop that specialised in self-published books since he has produced a number himself (see the latest, reviewed in the current issue). I had not met him before, although we had published his work in Source previously. As we walked down the noisy Stoke Newington High Street to the shop he explained his experience of publishing. Refreshingly, and in contrast to the cynicism about the photobook market expressed when I visited Donlon Books, John said he rejected the 'contrived rarity' of limited edition books and that he wanted his books to remain available.

I thought that Tipitin was a lovely name for a bookshop that specialised in photobooks because it is it a nice homonym for 'tipped in' the book dealer's term for a book that has photographs stuck into its pages. When I asked Katja Chernova, who runs the shop, about the name she told me it, 'comes from an old song by The Andrews Sisters'. This meant nothing to me, which, as it turned out, was the point: 'I wanted something without any meaning (as I didn't know where this project would go) and something short'. This neatly sums up the whimsical nature of the shop where the stock is obscure yet well chosen. Katja was friendly (if a little shy) and happy to show off some of the titles she had managed to find. Appropriately, these included a recently arrived copy of Afronauts, the self-published book that has just propelled its author Cristina De Middel to a nomination for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. This book is also reviewed in the current issue's self-published book review section but was almost immediately out of print and is now fetching astonishing prices on Ebay.

As during my previous visit to Photobookshow I am still slightly mystified as to how this economy of self publishing works. John and Katja both highlighted the role Twitter and the web play in helping these titles circulate. Perhaps John makes the the most sense of it when he describes it as a 'very nimble way of distributing the work'. It is shops like Tipitin that make this distribution possible.


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