Photo Book Pricing Blues
Okay, wait a minute now; since when are photo books priced as if you are buying an edition of a photograph in a gallery? Take a look at the pricing for David Alan Harvey’s new book, (Based On A True Story) over at the Burn website:
I have never seen that pricing structure before for a book. The price increases as the edition sells out. Right now it’s up to $168.00. It originally started at $95.00. Now I am a little shocked at this pricing scheme. I was hesitant to buy it at $95.00 but it is such a great example of what you can do with the photo book format (it almost approaches genius and I was following it’s progress on the Burn website) that as soon as I got a check for a freelance assignment I had recently completed I went right over to the site to order the book. But then was stopped cold by this pricing scheme.
I have been interested in the photo book as a collectible since the early 1990’s. I remember buying my first photo book. It was Paul Caponigro’s, Seasons, published in 1988 and I purchased it at The Strand Bookstore for $17.98. I poured over it’s pages again and again during the following weeks and months and I still pull it off my bookshelf every now and then. Back then no one was really interested in collecting photo books as they are now and for me photo books were how I got an education in photography. Who can afford to buy prints? But as the photo book craze caught on the pricing has gone through the roof. I can’t remember the last time I saw a really good photo book published for under $50.00. $75.00 seems to be the starting price now. I don’t believe that the materials needed to make a photo book has anything to do with these soaring prices.
Now I have to deal with gallery pricing for a photo book? What happened to the notion of the photo book as the medium for getting your work out to the maximum number of people? A medium of sharing. I am not faulting any photographer and especially not David Alan Harvey for trying to get a maximum return for his work. I am just lamenting the fact that in this capitalist society everything is created with an eye strictly on fame and fortune and not on community or sharing or dissemination. Where do all the photography lovers who can’t afford to spend $75, $100, $200 or more go to experience a photo book? At least I can go to a gallery and view the prints on a wall.
I bought the book. But it was painful.