I continue to be interested by the possibilities that the future holds for the book. Seth Godin had this to say recently on his Domino Project Blog:
‘Cleaning out a moldy corner of my basement, I ended up with a stack of about 400 paperback books.
Looking at each cover, I remember what was inside. Each contained a notion or an adventure or an idea. It adds up. (With some, I even remember where I was when I read them).
The magic of books, something I haven’t found in blog posts, jewel boxes, tweets or old TV Guides, is that they perfectly encapsulate an idea. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. And they have a cover, something that wraps it all together.
Maybe I’m a fogie, but I have trouble visualizing a pile (or a wallful) of Kindle ebooks. I’m going to miss that.’
I’m not sure why we have to visualize a pile of ebooks. Seth’s Domino Project, which is an attempt to shake up the traditional publishing model is format agnostic which makes sense to me. There are going to be people like me who enjoy the portability of eBooks but who still crave for the actual book, particularly when the book is something special.
Blurb are also evolving their idea of publishing from a traditional model
to one that is more supportive of the author in today’s environment.
The images above are from a recent article on the ‘Future of the Book Blog‘ in which Ben Clemens suggests that ‘eBooks will save the book‘ in part because ‘e-books re-focus books around their essence: words and images, assembled and carefully edited.’
I’m not sure how or why this is true because with the advent of digital it is so much easier for everyone to generate an eBook. What is true is that exceptionally prepared eBooks, iPad apps etc. will set the bar for everyone and while it will be easy to convert pages of text into eBooks we will come to expect a high quality product. Jim Goldstein‘s iPad photo books that he prepared for himself and for William Neill caught my eye as an example of what we might come to expect as normal, with more multimedia offerings to come.
So what about the physical artifact – the traditional book? Is there still a place for it? I’d like to think so – what about you?
I’ve been reading, or rather, re-reading Stuart Sipahigil’s e-book ‘close to home’ in the last few days. Stuart makes a compelling argument that you often don’t have to look much further than your own backyard to make engaging photographs. Granted I would love my backyard to look like his – see page 10 in the e-book for an example – but I am fortunate to live in New England, an amazing part of the world. We take home for granted and stop seeing what is in front of us everyday and as a result miss opportunities to hone our craft without having to travel thousands of miles. This practice stands you in good stead when you do travel and have an opportunity to make photographs that you would have otherwise been unable to make.
William Neill in a recent post on the luminous landscape blog articulates this point nicely. I think I live in a great place, just south of Boston in the heart of New England. William Neill has live in or very close to Yosemite for over 25 years. Yet it took many visits over the course of a number of years for him to begin to make images that were unique and expressed what he felt. What particularly rings true for me is that the better you know and understand your subject the more likely you are to make a unique image. Focusing on subjects close to home allows us to visit frequently, to experiment with making images at different times of the day, different seasons and different weathers. Making it more likely that you’ll capture the essence of the place.
Stuart describes an exercise in his book of limiting your self to a particular area ‘Close to Home’ in an effort to spark the creative juices. My reaction to Stuart’s exercise rather than to initiate such a project, was to think about how far from home I consider still to be close. I’ve been shooting close to home for the last 3 or so years. I attended a workshop in Acadia NP and while I had a good time, I didn’t end up with many images that I was happy with. I realized that I needed to put some time in behind the camera if I’m to stand a chance of getting the images that I hope to make. After 3 years of working the same subjects in different seasons, weather and light, I now feel that I’m likely to get reasonable images when I venture farther afield. The time is right for me to expand what I consider to be my home territory. After some consideration I decided that for me ‘home’ is now up to an hours drive or about 50 miles for morning shoots and perhaps 2 hours or 100 miles for evening shoots. This gives me an enormous range of potential subjects that I could explore. To help me focus I am going to begin a couple of projects – one of which is to get more images of Boston. Even though I live close to the city and travel there every day, I have very few images that go beyond the standard tourist shots. This is the year that I will work to build my Boston portfolio – watch this space!