I should preface this wee post by saying that my background is not in publishing or books in a wider sense, and have never been to the London Book Fair before. That being said, sometimes this is the best way to approach events like the LBF2012.
On the whole I found the fair to be a disappointment, I was hoping to be inspired by companies and individuals experimenting with the book, it’s form, and it’s potential. Unfortunately this was certainly not the case. The majority of the space (and there was a lot of it) was taken up by trade stands who met with clients/distributors/authors etc throughout the day and who were reluctant to talk to or entertain the thought of any changes to the publishing industry in which they may need to adapt.
The digital zone took up approximately 1/10th of the floor space and unless the concept of an e-book or App were unfamiliar beforehand, would offer nothing of interest. Perhaps those who are inviting, and pushing new digital ideas forward do not see the Book Fair as the place to showcase their tools and products, perhaps the idea of a 3 day event in which you pay for a pitch seems old fashioned. But if this is the case, it is a shame, as the visitors and exhibitors at the the fair need new concepts and thinkers quickly.
A notable exception to my disappointment was this year’s market focus on China which featured an array of books from thousand-year-old scrolls to the latest in digital publishing and hardware. It will be no secret to photobook fans that Chinese photobooks can be some of the most exquisitely produced in any collection, and it was apparent as I drooled over what turned out to be a science text book for high school students.
It seems as though, here at least in the ‘China spotlight’, there is a harmony between the analogue and digital. The analogue books are covered for their design and beauty, they are not throwaway artefacts simply printed on the page for old-times-sake. The digital books here are accessible, cheaper and are more than a digital version of their printed cousin; they allow sharing, note taking, and more.
What with his being a photobook blog I should probably highlight a few books I came across today that I had not seen before, so here they are:
‘May 12 Wenchuan Earthquake’
Sichuan People’s Publishing Co, Ltd
“This picture album selects over 200 pictures taken by professional photographers and reporters. Consisting of three parts, namely, “Catastrophe,” “Rescue,” and “Reconstruction,” the album represents the enormous disaster caused by May 12 Wenchuan Earthquake, displays the hardships Chinese army and people suffered in the struggle against the earthquake, and demonstrates the efforts Sichuan people made to reconstruct their home under the leadership of CPC and Chinese government and with the support of other Chinese people, overseas Chinese, and foreign friends.”
Manifest Destiny: A Guide to the Essential Indifference of American Suburban Housing
Architectural Association Publications
For anyone interested in the likes of Jeff Brouws, Ed Ruscha and Stephen Shore (among many others), this could be an interesting read for you.
“In Manifest Destiny, Griffiths reveals the results of this exploration. Structured through 58 short chapters, the anthology offers an architectural pattern book of suburban conditions all focused not on the unique or specific but the placeless. These chapters are complemented by an introduction by Griffiths and an afterword by Swiss architectural historian Martino Stierli.”
(More form the AA here)
‘The Table of Power 2’ (Special Edition)
50 tables from the headquarters of businesses ranked by Fortune as America’s most influential. With the special edition you can chose your own wood cover in Walnut, Cherry or Red Gum!
(Hear more from Hatje Cantz)
Not quite sure how I completely missed seeing or hearing about this last year but wow! What a book, the special edition is stunning but not cheap and the ‘regular version’ is still a fantastic success in design, content and context.
(See much, much more, here)