Though for some people it might be a no brainer, a straight answer as to what is better or not, I am glad that we had the opportunity to experience the pros and cons, the differences, between the physical and the virtual book.
Last week Matt asked us to bring a photo book from the library. The photo book had to be a practitioner’s body of work, not just a collection of photographs. We were split into two groups. One group would take part in a forum like those held by Matt’s PhotoBook Club, while the other group was making actual, physical books!
On the task, Victoria Lucas taught us how to bind books and some really useful tips in the process. We did start with Japanese Stab binding which in my opinion was quite easy and then we did a hardback Concertina, which proved to be more difficult as more tools were involved as well as more effort and time in order to measure and fold the papers.
Japanese Stab Binding
Basic introduction to bookmaking from Jonathan Worth on Vimeo.
It was quite an experience, while the thought that I can make my own books made me feel truly independent and being capable of publishing my work.
Right after finishing the book binding session we had a break and continued on to do the PhotoBook Club –like forum with the book we brought along with us. Each one of us had to briefly talk about the book and we chose it. We started discussing about each book while trying to identify the reasons why the book was put together in its current form, the selection of paper, the position of the photographs as well as the significance or not of text along the photographs, or just the beginning or the end of the book. We even discussed the possible connections between photographs that were side by side or on the same page of a book.
Finally, we all exchanged books, something I found really interesting as we all had the chance to learn more information on photo books, new and established artists as well as contextual information on their bodies of work.
A couple of days later, on the next session with George, we were taught how to create an e-book and how it can serve us and our work. After having a brief discussion on books and their value, George gave us demonstration with HP’s service MagCloud and Adobe InDesign. The basic idea of this demonstration was not just to make a pdf version of a book but the endless options we are given through internet. There are many other online services like MagCloud that can publish your book and even make it in print. What this kind of services do is to give you a template of the book they can print and all we had to do was use the template, in our case with InDesign in order to make a pdf file. You can then just keep the pdf or upload it on their service and make available through their marketplace. Options like making it available for free or by payment, just digital copy or printed are available in many of these providers.
The significance I see in this process is the convenience of making a book done and available in public within hours. This can serve really well in need of something going out in a uniformed “package”, the pdf file, and in lightning speed. Obviously the bigger picture here is the existence of the Internet and how it can be used as tool of any sort, its communication capabilities and the essence of speed.
I will not say if one of them two, physical or virtual book, is better than the other, because I have realised that they are both tools that serve you according to your needs. It’s all down to what’s the purpose of needing to publish something. You will have to jot down what you want, why; to who is addressed to and see which one satisfies your purpose.
I wouldn’t discard any of them from my inventory as both might come handy one day.