Working on my next book

Iron's Cemetery
Yashica-D, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2013

If you receive my monthly email newsletter (sign up here!), you’ve been in the know for months: I’m working on my next book of photographs.

The working title is Square Photographs, and it will compile the best photos I’ve made with my Yashica TLRs, the Yashica-D and the Yashica-12.

I learned an important lesson after publishing my last photo book, Vinyl Village: image quality matters. I published that book through Amazon using their least-expensive paper and ink options to keep costs down. I was testing a hypothesis that a low price would lead to more sales. It worked: Vinyl Village is my best-selling book.

But several of you expressed sharp disappointment with its print quality. That criticism is fair. When you compare the original scans as found in my Flickr album to those printed in the book, you can see that the printed images are thin and lack contrast.

For Square Photographs, I will choose Amazon’s best paper and full-color printing. I believe this will dramatically improve image quality, although it will raise the book’s price somewhat.

For those of you who want top-flight image quality, I’m also going to offer a Deluxe Edition of the book through Blurb. I printed my first two photo books, Exceptional Ordinary and Textures of Ireland, through Blurb, and they are gorgeous. But brace for impact, as the Deluxe Edition at Blurb is likely to be considerably more expensive than the Standard Edition at Amazon.

At the moment there are 39 photographs in this collection, although I may remove a small number of them as I finish editing the book. Each photograph will be accompanied by a short story, reflection, or essay, just as I write in my long-running Single Frame series here on this blog.

You can read those vignettes right now, if you like! I’ve written them all right on each photo’s page on Flickr, and then collected the photos into an album. Click the photo at the top of this post to get started, and then click the > button on each photo to move to the next one.

It’s my thought that after you see all of the photographs and read my words, it’ll make you want the book even more. There’s just something to holding a printed photograph in your hands that beats seeing pixels on a screen.

My next tasks are to lay out the book and create the cover, so I can send the files to be published. I’ve been busier with my regular life than I thought I’d be, but with any luck I’ll be able to finish this work this month and share with you where you can pick up your copy of Square Photographs.

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8 responses to “Working on my next book”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Always a fan of the TLR, and long before digital, I told non-professionals that wanted to practice photography that they couldn’t go far wrong with a nice Yashica or Minolta TLR, a tripod, a lightmeter, and a two-120 roll film developing tank.

    You’ve hit on a major area of discussion as long as I’ve been in photography (and certainly in photo college 50 years ago); quality of reproduction and presentation vs. the quickest and cheapest way to get the work out there. Add marketing into the mix, and it’s even more complicated.

    There are certainly many “remaindered” books down at Half-Priced books, that were expensively printed with the highest level of reproduction and quality, where the subject matter was of little interest to consumers, and even for the professionally educated, were banal subjects poorly executed. (How this happens has always been the subject of heated discussions). The other argument is that highly impactful subjects like breaking news photos of important or significant events, certainly have a lot of interest, no matter how they are reproduced and presented.

    I like your two-tiered book quality idea. Without seeing the rest of the photos, if most of them are of the nature of the one reproduced here, I think they would benefit most from the highest quality reproduction all the way down the line. They seem to be of the type that is more designed to be “as art”, instead of one of the other many uses of photography. Many photographers that practice this type of discipline, many times use direct-to-press books as almost a catalog, meant to spur further contact and direct-to-customer art quality print sales.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I looked into the print options at Amazon and Blurb today. Blurb has two square book options, 7×7 and 12×12. The 12×12 STARTS at $56! Amazon has two as well, curiously 8×8 and 8.25×8.25. I haven’t been able to figure out pricing there yet.

      It looks like I’m going to have to “make” the book twice, rather than base one book off the other’s layout files. :-(

  2. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Wow, I am impressed with your level of energy. Good for you in getting another book out to the public.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      For the most part, this is work I can fit into the margins of my life. I work on things like this 15-30 minutes at a time, as I have time. It makes it challenging to predict when projects like these will finish, though!

  3. M.B. Henry Avatar

    I bought a copy of your last book but haven’t got around to it just yet! But don’t worry it has a prominent spot on my TBR shelf and I hope to get to it very soon!!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s the great thing about a book: all the words will still be there when you get around to opening it!

  4. Michael Avatar

    I don’t believe you can make the leap to confirm your hypothesis that higher sales were due to lower price. Perhaps more were interested in the subject matter or your sparkling personality and enthusiasm for your trade (hobby)? Maybe they just felt sorry that you have to live there (hahaha).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You may be right. But I’m operating off the strong assumption that I’m selling entirely to people who read this blog and take my email newsletter, people who are on some level fans of my work. Within that group some subjects will appeal more than others but my hypothesis is that there’s a core group that buy what I produce, whatever it is.

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