The future of the photobook is a topic of obvious interest here at Radius Books, and we are not alone. The Musee de l’ Elysee, in Lausanne, Switerzerland, is dedicated exclusively to photography and is currently showing an exhibition titled Lasting Impressions: The Fine Art & Craft of the Steidl Book. In addition, the museum organized an international colloquium on the future of the photobook with the ECAL/University of Art and Design, Lausanne.
The forum was attended by nearly 300 specialists from all branches of photography book publication and included luminaries such as Nathalie Bocher-Lenoir, Luc Debraine, Mary Delmonico, Frédérique Destribats, Bernd Detsch, William A. Ewing, Lady Elena Foster, Philippe Garner, Jean Genoud, Winfried Heininger, Françoise Jaunin, Werner Jeker, Pierre Keller, Walter Keller, Michael Mack, Lesley Martin, Gilles Mora, Lars Müller, Thomas Neurath, Neil Palfreyman, Alice Rawsthorn, Markus Schaden, Joachim Schmid, John Gossage, Alec Soth, Gerhard Steidl, Joël Tettamanti.
Though there did not appear to be a consensus on the health of the industry, in which many reported that smaller runs are an increasing necessity, it was agreed there is nothing on the digital market that can eclipse good old-fashioned paper at this point. The artist and founder of the ABC Artists book cooperative, Joachim Schmid said, “The book has been around for 500 years, if you want to replace that you better come up with something pretty convincing and I haven’t seen it yet’…’The future of the book could be a pdf? This is complete nonsense, a book is a book and a pdf is a pdf…I don’t download wine!”
For a more extensive breakdown of the discussions, check out London based photographer Nick Turpin’s blog, sevensevennine. And don’t forget to read Radius Books editor Darius Himes’ informative blog post on the “Future of Photobooks.”