Help a Brother Out

Above is a dummy copy of the cover of a book of b&w photographs I’m intending to publish. The tentative title of the book is Car Sick. The book’s premise is simple: it will contain photographs I’ve either 1) taken from my car, or 2) got out of the car to take i.e. it’s a view from the car. Specifically, it’s a view of America from the car.

While containing an introduction written by a third party, it will be minimal. There will be minimal text throughout, as I find photo books that tackle and pin their subjects via forced explanation to be of minimal interest. The photos will be sequenced and presented in a manner that suggests a narrative, with appropriate design and production to allow the message to be accessible to the viewer…but you’ll have to work too. My intent is to engage the viewer visually, emotionally and intellectually with a mixture of beauty, banality, sentiment, and formal abstraction.

  • The book will be +/- 140 pages with +/- 80 photographs.
  • Trim size will be 10 inches (width) x 8 inches (height, spine)
  • Photo printing: 4-color on 80# matte Titan white, 510 PPI.
  • Pages: 10 pt C1S/heavy white stock (120gms) with matte layflat lamination, bleeds, prints one side only.
  • Cover: Hardcover linen with jacket
  • Spine width: 0.2901 inches
  • Binding: PUR perfect section sown bind.

I’m not thinking of the work as a ‘book of photos;’ rather the book, the physical, three-dimensional object, is the work. Physical quality – how the book itself appears and feels – will be of paramount importance. This won’t be a POD (“print on demand”) or standardized ‘Blurb’ book; the type of book cannot be arbitrarily chosen and then the content stuck into it. The book will be a thoroughly considered production – content (editing and sequence), the mise-en-page, choice of paper stock, reproduction quality, text, typeface, binding and jacket design all considered in how such choices interact to produce the finished work.

After much back and forth, I’ve decided to self-publish i.e. I’m not going to hire a book agent to solicit a Publisher and jump through their editorial hoops for a limited production run when the internet offers me considerable resources as a self-publisher.

It will be produced by Bookmobile Printing in Minneapolis, which produces fine-art books for museums and galleries among others. I chose them for the following reasons: First, books are their only business. They are artists immersed in the world of books, and every single step of the process (with the exception of the manufacturing of the metal dies for foil stamping and larger hardcover runs) is done in house. As such, they are able to carefully oversee each element of book production and constantly maintain the highest quality standards.

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Defining the audience for a photo book is incredibly important when soliciting potential publishers. In fact, it may be the most important factor. I’ve got a built-in potential audience for the work, a function of cranking out this blog for 6 years. As such, self-publishing makes sense. Most aspiring photographers make the mistake of assuming their potential audience much larger than it in fact is. In truth, small fine-art publishers often print runs of 500 copies or less, with recognized masters selling, at best, 3000 copies. This is especially true of idiosyncratic subject matter like photos out of car windows.

Who is the book’s audience? You. Readers of Leicaphilia.

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Give me this much: I’ve written over 400 posts for you, some of it marginally thought-provoking, all of it ad-free. I’ve never begged for your money. I’ve deliberately chosen not to monetize this website so as not to insult your intelligence or to guilt-trip you into a “donation.” That’s tacky and demeaning, both of me and you; we’re better than that. I write Leicaphilia as a labor of love. No remuneration needed or required. And I’m grateful for the readership I have.

So, my question is this: Let’s assume I do enough of a print run to justify selling individual copies for $30 US. Hell, I’ll probably lose money at that price, but that’s OK. Add $5 US shipping within the US, $15 US shipping to Europe/Asia. How many of you would buy Car Sick?

64 thoughts on “Help a Brother Out

  1. Pieter de Koninck

    Two comments from me. First, yes, I would buy the book. Second, being in the middle of having a book of mine published by a publisher who uses print-on-demand printers, make sure you see printed proofs–pages or a single copy of the book–and you can make changes if you don’t like something in the reproduction. Also, since you are using an art-book printer, get assurances that the entire run–whether in small quantities or all at once–is consistent. I have had books printed by Blurb that, although printed from the same files, vary in look.

    Reply
  2. Andrew Molitor

    I would buy a copy. I am in the USA, and will commit to buying one (1) copy at any price under $50 all-up. If it slips over that, I’d have to think about it.

    Also, if you want someone to comment on design or sequence, I am at your service. I have a lot of opinions on these matters, as you may or may not be aware, which opinions you are welcome to solicit for whatever purpose you choose.

    Reply
  3. John G.

    Yep, I’ll happily buy if there are no pictures in the gutter or bled off the page. No one would do that with text, so why do it with pictures?

    Reply
  4. Manuel

    I am in Tim, if there are not digital, converted to b&w pictures. I usually hate the ultra sharpness and aesthetics of digital images (it totally detracts me from the experience). I am also in if there is a consistency in the set, and in the story (whatever it means).

    Cheers,
    Manuel (I bought you the Nikon S2, green beret edition :-p)

    Reply
  5. Andy Oca

    Yes please and although I’m in the UK can you ship to my sister in Cleveland OH? Maybe I should pay now before £=$, sometime in the New Year!

    Reply
    1. Louis Sousa

      Hi, I would be honored to own your book. You do more for the Leica community than anyone. Your signing it would be a nice touch in my opinion. These images are very personal to you, they express your soul. The signature is a maker’s mark.

      Reply
  6. Darren Kelland

    Sign me up! I love the blog and appreciate that I am never sold anything that I don’t want. I am veering towards that wicker bag though… I will happily take a copy off your hands.

    Reply
  7. Rob Campbell

    Pay close attention to what Pieter de Koninck told you.

    I used to produce bespoke calendars in runs from about 3,000 up to around 40,000 units at most.

    I shot the pix, made the layouts and took the things through print right up to delivery. Though both the client and I signed off final machine proofs (not Cromalins), the eventual results always left me unhappy. As did the variations of the same pages.

    As bad as that was, the clients seemed perfectly happy and I managed to keep most of them for a few years. However, what you are doing is not a commercial venture, where you are in it for the money, though that would always be nice. You are essentially undertaking a labour of love, and because of that, will have a very different emotional experience if, and when, things get sticky, as they invariably do.

    I never had a production that did not cause one helluva lot of argument, the usual complaint from printers being that their work was commercially acceptable etc. etc. and that I wanted too much. And for a “commercially acceptable” perspective, maybe they were right. For myself, I would never put my own money into self-publishing. It’s not called vanity publishing for nothing. And to invest, yet still find yourself selling yourself short via the product… nobody needs that.

    If you are not yet committed to anything, why not consider making brief editions of photographic or inket prints of a reasonable size, and try to shift them? At least you get to do the creative work to your own standards, and live or die on that basis, not via a third party’s sabotage.

    Sorry to be negative, but I have run those marathons.

    Rob

    Reply
  8. Steve K

    It would be a pleasure to buy a couple of copies. Your blog is a rarity … educational, inspiring and though-provoking. I often refer friends to it. Good luck with the book project.

    Reply
  9. Lee Rust

    Sign me up for a pair!

    Here’s a suggestion that may be anathema to the stated aesthetic of your project… spiral binding… this way the book can lie flat for display on a table or easel with only one photo visible at time for extended display and contemplation. I know this can be done with any book, but a spiral binding would do it best.

    I think this might encourage ‘slow looking’ or maybe even occasional ‘seeing’. Your insightful images deserve such close attention.

    Reply
  10. 32BT

    1. Crowdfunding ftw
    Seriously, these situations are exactly what cf was meant to solve, a trusted producer with a committed following for a small run

    2. wtf @ fc?
    If it’s going to be unique, see if the printer is up for something unique: say, a double black run in cristalraster. If not, just limit your printng to a relatively normal high lpi single black run. Solves all the colorfidelity headaches and as you’ve taught us over and over: the quality of image content is infinitely more important than the quality of image reproduction.

    3. Dominos
    What is it with old men and playing dominos. I always thought it was the speed of the game (or lack thereof) that attracted the geriatric crowd. “person connects to person+signpost connects to signpost+city connects to city+window connects to window+…”
    That don’t make no narrative. Might as well watch the kick off of the curlingseason.

    Reply
  11. Michael

    I will buy a copy. I’ve been following your posts for years. I enjoy reading your blog. Very thought provoking. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  12. Joseph Greenspan

    Absolutely.

    As someone who enjoys your photography and thought provoking writing, supporting this endeavor is certainly warranted.

    Reply
    1. Leicaphila Post author

      If you’d like yours signed, of course. How I feel about the book is this: the book is a ‘thing-in-itself’. Who did it is only marginally relevant. Signing it would, imho, deface it.

      Reply
  13. Sean

    I would buy the book. I have been reading your blog for over a year and appreciate the content and effort you put into it. Thank you.

    Reply
  14. Thomas Rink

    I would buy one, too, provided the price including shipping to Germany is below $100. Your price estimate of $30 per copy sounds a bit on the low side. Recently, I created a Blurb book (20×25 cm, 54 color pictures, 92 pages, ‘Premium Matte’ paper, soft cover). A run of 5 copies results in €35 per book, and the reproduction quality is not very good – the halftone raster is clearly visible, and the colors are not consistent across print runs.

    I would be interested to read about the making of your book, since Blurb is, in my opinion, too expensive for what they deliver. Right now, I’m exploring to print the spreads on my inkjet printer and to bind them myself. It is fun, but also a long and steep learning curve.

    Best, Thomas

    Reply
  15. Feli di Giorgio

    Sign me up. I’d be in for one or two copies. $50 sounds like a bargain to me. This is one of my favorite sites. The writing is intelligent, honest, first rate and you’re a dedicated shooter.

    Reply
  16. Pritam Singh

    Put me down for a copy, unsigned please. I have derived a lot of joy reading what you write and hope you keep it up.
    Best wishes, good luck with the publication and look forward to it.

    Reply
  17. Christopher McCallum

    Tim,

    I’m in gladly for a copy down to OZ.

    Good printing and book cover font is important but the image is everything. Many of your photographs on this site are wonderful mysteries. America, thematically, always interesting. Whatever you decide with design aesthetic, I’m confident will be well done.

    Cheers,

    Chris

    Reply
  18. Stephen J

    Despite my status here as the one that people are asked to be nice to, despite their better inclinations, and the reason that I no longer comment, I do like your photography Tim.

    So I would buy one.

    I am also interested to see what your printer does, since I regard the photo-book as the best way to store one’s own stuff and so far, of the few that I have bought for my own snaps, none have impressed.

    PS: I trust you won’t consider putting a picture across two pages, it detracts from the whole experience.

    Reply
    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Stephen: my smart-ass retort a few weeks ago was totally meant in jest. ive always valued your input here, and have noticed you’ve stopped commenting recently, which is a loss to the site. I find you to be consistently one of the most thoughtful posters. Ill send you a free book as an apology….

      Reply
  19. Stephen J

    Thanks for your apology Tim, although it is hardly warranted, I am my own worst enemy sometimes. I suppose that I shouldn’t get so animated regarding other peoples’ opinions, particularly when I know I am right… 🙂

    I really ought to remember the old homily about opinions before I splurge and embarrass myself.

    I really appreciate your kind offer. Weighing up the sum of the pleasure and angst that I derive from continuing to read both the blog and the comments, I think I am seriously in the red here.

    One day Tim, I will pop my Leicaphilia cherry, and submit a disappointing little piece for y’all.

    One last thing, not only have I not commented here recently, I have only just read some of the recent pieces. Suffice to say, I was upset to read about Rob and his mugging, such things leave one feeling vulnerable, violated and dirty somehow.

    He is still wrong about the EU though…

    Reply
    1. Rob Campbell

      Yeah, vulnerable is the keyword; vulnerable and dumb, dumb enough to be in the situation in the first place. One knows these things happen every tourist season, but the problem is remembering that every day. As ever, one forgets and just goes about life as if such scumbags were only to be found in the cities.

      I’d never have another similar item of value: the worry would be more than the pleasure it might bring. Which a new thing would not bring today, anyhow: the symbolism for me lay in the fact that it was the first bit of celebratory buying I did when the business began to look stable.

      I won’t argue about the EU: it’s a circular debate like religion, founded on beliefs.

      😉

      Reply

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