great photobooks of 2013 that I didn’t buy

Carolyn Drake, Two rivers. Apparently promoted via Kickstarter during one of those long periods when I avoid Kickstarter because the last screenfuls I saw were too dreary. Now that I learn of it, just months after publication, already out of print. This is a great shame as the subject is most interesting and what JPEGs I’ve seen of the photos look excellent. I hope Drake follows the Sochi Project in bringing out a second edition — perhaps a regular paperback so as not to upset collectors thrilled by the (artistically!) wrong-sized cover of the first edition.

Kurata Seiji, Flash up. The original is a routine sort of paperback that contains the most enjoyable photos ever of this (rather overdone) sleaze genre. (Don’t be put off by the front cover of the original, which oddly has one of the least interesting photos in the book.) One of my rare intelligent bookshop decisions decades ago was to buy it when it came out. My copy resides in an actual bookshelf with glass doors, and when I want to look at it I have to shovel piles of other books off the floor in order to open and close these doors. I haven’t seen the new edition, which may be worth its high price; but I think I’ll just keep on shovelling.

Martin Kollar, Field trip. Though I was disappointed by Kollar’s Cahier I liked his Nothing special. JPEGs of the content of the new book looked intriguing and I recently came across a copy. The photos are just as good as I’d hoped. A lot are mystifying, which is fine with me. But for the price, I want explanations after I’ve enjoyed the mystification. True, explanatory text isn’t a trendy notion; but David Goldblatt for one provides explanations and these don’t seem to deter potential buyers or indeed award committees. If Kollar rectifies the omission (and all this needs is a web page), then I’ll buy a copy.

Seto Masato, Cesium 137Cs. Anthropomorphic branches and other mysteries of the freshly irradiated forest, a fascinating example of a kind of book that usually holds little interest for me. Expensive, but yes I can stump up the cash. It’s B4 format, which may well be justified — but I’ve simply run out of niches for the storage of books that big. ….. PS There’s currently a 20% discount if you buy the via the internet from Place M and a 30% discount on the book if you buy it at Place M.

Suda Issei, Waga Tokyo 100. Good stuff in this book, but I have one of the thousands of copies of the original, whose printing quality is tolerable.

Zhang Xiao, Shangxi. I bought Zhang’s two previous books and enjoy them both. I don’t know how many photos there are in this third one, but the photos I’ve seen of it make it look slim, and its RRP is $75 even before postage is added. And it’s got an (artistically!) wrong-sized cover. Zhang kindly provides thirty of the photos on his website, so I’ll enjoy them there. For his fourth book I hope he returns to Jiazazhi, which did a very handsome job for his They, and which sent me a copy efficiently and inexpensively.

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7 Comments on “great photobooks of 2013 that I didn’t buy”

  1. Gould says:

    What about Gocho’s Familiar Street Scenes reprint?

  2. Sean Breslin says:

    Why didn’t you buy Two Rivers? I did and it’s superb.

    • microcord says:

      Simple: By the time I first heard of it, it was already out of print.

      I was thinking about the “masculine” image of what’s called street photography; and could come up with very few women’s names. I looked for women in the lists of contributors to the two books “Street photographers now” and “in-Public”. I there found Drake, whose name hadn’t previously registered in my tired brain. I liked what I saw. I quickly discovered that (i) she had a book out, (ii) this was already sold out. Had I known of the book earlier, I’d have bought a copy.

      Just a few days later the Kwanzaa shopping lists started to come out, and the book appeared there too. This in itself is hardly persuasive but one of the people who rates it very highly (within Time’s shopping list) is Jason Eskenazi and to me this is a plus. But I’d already been persuaded.

      I’ll just have to wait till it comes out as a Penguin.

      • I have very mixed feelings about this book. I really love the series and project as a whole. The images are fantastic. What bothers me is the design. I bought the book hoping I could get passed the design elements that I thought would annoy me. I still can’t get passed it. The fact the cover doesn’t actually cover the pages is a pain because it leaves the pages vulnerable to damage. (mine was bent in transit) But what bothers me most is the way the images are shown in the book. Meant to resemble the constant flow of a river, the images are shown one after the other, most of the time, split in half, with half of the image on one side of the page and the other half on the flipside of the page. I understand the idea behind it, I just don’t feel it works. The fact I can’t see the image in its entirety actually interrupts the flow as I try flip back and forth attempting to see the image. Everyone has been praising this book, and photographically it deserves all its praise. To me though, parts of the design lets it down…

  3. Zisis says:

    Thank you for the list but it’s a pitty that some of the links are directing to a not available page. It would have been better if there was a link to the photographer’s site.

    • microcord says:

      Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve just fixed the links. Both went to a retailer and now go to the same retailer; they don’t go to the site of the photographer, because neither of these two photographers has his own site.

      I ended up acquiring the Kurata book (as I say in a later post).

      If you’re thinking of ordering any Japanese book from Japan, remember that Japanese businesses are going into a short hibernation; better to wait till 7 January or so if you expect a quick response.


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