Monday, May 17, 2010

Steidl Art Books: The Future of Print

Ahhh...the feel of a good book.  The sound of cracking open the plastic of a newly-purchased monograph.  The feel of linen slipcases, cover debossing, stitched bindings and weighty paper.  The scent as one flips through the pages.  Is this experience now a casualty of the new ebooks/tablet revolution?

Steidl staunchly proclaims, "NO!"  The publisher has gone to the mattresses to defend the future of print through the recent publication of three amazing photography books – Outside Inside (Bruce Davidson), Parcours Muséologique Revisité (Polidori), and On the Road (Ed Ruscha)

Months ago, I posted about Bruce Davidson's Limited Edition Central Park in Platinum book with Verso.  Now, Davidson-lovers can look forward to Outside Inside.
Outside Inside is...a sumptuous three volume box set with fifty-three chapters over 800 pages. Each chapter is introduced by a short text written by Davidson himself. The result is a celebration of the development of a master of the medium and an autobiography, a photographer’s life seen through his work.
This follows on the heels of Robert Polidori's magnificent Parcours Muséologique Revisité, a three volume box set with 744 pages, of Polidori's documentation of Versailles over a period of 25 years.
Lastly, Ed Ruscha's stunning (yet unaffordable at a mere $11,000 USD) limited edition production of On the Road, pairing Kerouac's original text with Ruscha's photographs:
The text is printed in Letterpress on 220g Hahnemühle paper and every one of the 55 photo-plates is blind embossed and tipped in by hand to create an exquisite and original edition of On the Road.
 The attention Steidl has paid to the production of each of these books reinforces the idea that print is NOT dead, it has merely become more self-critical as a medium.  Publishers are striving for new levels of print quality, usage of materials and design.  The feel of a real book is just becoming – in a word – better.

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