The famous war photographer Don McCullin was interviewed in today’s Independent to promote a national amateur photography competition, Faith Through A Lens.
And what he has to say is exactly what we’ve been saying since we started fotoLibra 10 years ago.
“I love photographing beautiful things. I don’t want just a reputation for always being in among the blood and the gore. I have an amazing repertoire of landscapes in my collection.”
But he suggests that up and coming photographers cover the poorest communities in Britain, in an effort to stop them becoming further marginalised.
He said: “I don’t see enough people chronicling Britain. You don’t have to get on a plane; there are lots of social wars in our cities. There’s poverty and loneliness. You don’t have to go to the Middle East to find unhappiness and sorrow.”
McCullin is happy to judge shots taken by cameraphones. “There’s a lot of snobbery about pictures taken on phones but a vision is a vision, I don’t care how you acquire it. An artist will find any means to create a work of art.”
When contributors ask fotoLibra what they should photograph, the answer is always the same. And it’s the hardest answer.
People. Not picturesque, colourful ethnic dancers, but people going about their everyday lives. Your neighbours. Your colleagues. Your friends. Your family. The travellers who are camping at the end of the road.
Every week fotoLibra gets requests from companies, charities, bloggers and individuals who want to use photographs — your photographs.
This of course is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately for you and me they have one thing in common. They all want them for free.
Oh, the reasons they give are wondrous and manifold; way above ‘the dog ate my homework’ level. They plead to our better nature, they claim poverty, they cite numerous examples of unparalleled generosity from picture libraries who modestly (and surprisingly) request anonymity, and, most common of all, “we’re a charity so we shouldn’t have to pay anything”.
I’ve just seen a correspondence between a Large Wealthy Production Company and a struggling musician. It makes fascinating reading.
I have redacted the copy to remove any direct references to the LWPC because their lawyers are undoubtedly larger and wealthier than ours, and anyway they don’t need the free publicity. ‘Xena’ is a made-up name. The only indicator I haven’t changed in the name of the musician, ‘Whitey’ N J White. I can’t find his blog at the moment, but I’m sure he would appreciate any messages of support you may care to offer. This material came from the excellent PetaPixel newsletter.
All I want you to do when reading the following correspondence is substitute the word ‘photography’ for ‘music’. Then see how you feel.
Thanks for emailing me, I have emailed your label but not heard back yet so thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately we don’t have any budget for music but would be great if we could use the track but it is up to you, but would appreciate anything you could do?
and now Whitey’s reply:
Firstly, there is no label — I outright own my material, so I’m not sure who you’ve been emailing.
Secondly, I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law Of The Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget.
So you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week — from a booming, affluent global media industry.
Why is this? Let’s look at who we both are.
I am a professional musician, who lives from his music. It took me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard-earned property. I’ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on earth; from Breaking Bad to the Sopranos, from Coca Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.
Ask yourself: would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resumé like that, and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing?
Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.
Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying “So sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not.
Because culturally, we classify that as theft.
Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question pay everyone connected to a shoot — from the caterer to the grip to the extra — even the cleaner who mopped your set and scrubbed the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.
Now let’s look at you. A quick glance at your web site reveals a variety of well known, internationally syndicated reality programmes. You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognised company with a string of hit shows.
Working on multiple series in close co-operation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt, you have real money. To pretend otherwise is an insult.
Yet you send me this shabby request — give me your property, for free. Just give us what you own, we want it.
The answer is a resounding and permanent NO.
I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to re-blog this. I want to see a public discussion begin about this kind of industry abuse of musicians [and Photographers — Ed.]
This was one email too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you.
N J White
And the one thing Xena from LWPC Inc left out was “Of course, we’ll give you a credit. It’ll be great publicity for you, because we’ve sold this project to 597 planets across the universe. You should be SO grateful to us!”
What can we say? Thanks A Lot.
And well said, Whitey! N J White is hereby awarded the 2013 fotoLibra Award For Speaking Out.
I’m not that old — God is old — but I clearly remember the South Sea Bubble, when credulous investors pumped hundreds of pounds into shadowy companies which made extravagant promises of riches beyond the dreams of aviaries, most notoriously one which was incorporated for “carrying on an undertaking of Great Advantage, but no one to know what it is”.
The tables have turned. Today’s must-invest-in companies make no profits and no promises at all, yet they have to fight investors off with sticks.
Snapchat is in talks for funding that values it at $3.6 billion, even though it doesn’t appear to have figured out how to monetise its service yet. When we launched fotoLibra we wrote up very detailed plans on how it was going to make money, plans that we have carried out with some small degree of success, despite the appalling financial climate and the plummeting value of images. Nevertheless investors stayed away in droves.
It doesn’t seem to matter that a company has no idea how to make money. Today you make money by selling your concept to investors. Snapchat points to 9% of American youth having used its service. But 9% of American youth used to buy Eddie Fisher records. They don’t any more.
These companies are new and exciting, like hula hoops and yo-yos. I wonder how long their shelf life will be. Snapchat’s unique selling point is that it allows people to exchange photographs which then disappear. So it really is selling smoke.
When Facebook made its public offering I commented that if the Duke of Westminster decided to sell the freehold of the whole of Belgravia he’d be able to buy 18% of Facebook. I advised him not to, and I’m glad to say he appears to have heeded my advice. I believe Belgravia will be substantially more valuable in 50 years’ time than whatever the rump of Facebook will be. As for enterprises like Snapchat, Pinterest and Tumblr, I think they will be footnotes in internet bubble history.
fotoLibra, on the other hand, should be on course for world domination.
On this morning’s BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme there was an interesting piece about holiday photographs. The interviewees first commented on the vast number of photographs that are taken nowadays, then went on to advise listeners to take fewer photographs and instead to enjoy the moment for what it was. Well actually they urged us to take less photographs, so we corrected their grammar for them.
The piece was directed at amateur photographers, not the pros and semi-pros that make up the fotoLibra membership, but there were still Lessons To Be Learned for us all. For a start, they urged listeners to do what we’ve been asking you to do for years — try and photograph things that are ephemeral and change, such as streetscapes. Photograph your bread. Photograph the baker’s shop. It may not be there next year.
It was worth listening to, and for the next seven days (ending Monday 5th August) you can hear it by clicking here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037gxx1 Click where it says ‘Listen now 180 mins’ and scroll through to 2:23:56.
Some years ago in Assisi we saw two gay men photographing a stuffed toy bear in front of the cathedral. Intrigued, we asked what was going on. “This is Hector,” they told us. “He’s been photographed in front of the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Tower Bridge — he’s been all over the world.” And they had a photographic record of his travels. I have a sinking feeling that they went on to publish a very successful book about Hector’s travels.
We never know what’s going to sell. That’s why we don’t impose our tastes on what members upload to fotoLibra. But we will ask this:
- • Don’t photograph sunsets, photograph things seen in sunsets
- • Don’t photograph the Taj Mahal, photograph the hawkers and vendors in the street leading up to it
- • Don’t upload 20 photographs of the same object at fractionally different angles — ‘sisters & similars’, as they’re known in the trade. Upload only the best
- • Please take more photographs of people — not just portraits, but people doing things
We had a mailshot from the Frankfurt Book Fair yesterday.
It said “Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and the Frankfurt Book Fair are this year asking again for entries to be submitted for the DAM Architectural Book Award 2013. All art and architectural book publishers worldwide are invited to do so.”
Excellent, I thought. Our profusely illustrated Heritage Ebooks will be just the ticket, and will get us some much needed publicity — and maybe some sales as well.
But apparently not.
My proposal was curtly answered: “I am sorry but online publications are not to be considered.”
Well, they are not online publications. They are ebooks, in Kindle and EPUB formats. The titles are not available in print format, as the Active Location Finder we use to physically locate the buildings described in the books can only work in an ebook.
So I told them. Now they have sent us a holding letter while the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and the Frankfurt Book Fair deliberate as to whether an ebook can be regarded as a book.
Should I be holding my breath?
If you’ve never heard of CEPIC, I’m not really surprised. It’s a business business. It stands for the Coördination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage. It aims to be the centre of the picture industry. CEPIC federates nearly a thousand picture agencies and photo libraries in twenty countries across Europe. It has affiliates in North America and Asia. CEPIC’s membership includes large and smaller stock photo libraries, major photo news agencies, art galleries and museums, video companies and of course fotoLibra. CEPIC represents more than 150,000 photographers in direct licensing, and if you are reading this as a fotoLibra photographer, that means you.
CEPIC holds an annual conference packed with lectures, events, seminars and opportunities to meet. There are no photographers, no picture buyers. If you ran a milk bar, would you want cows in the shop?
This year it was held in Barcelona, so Yvonne Seeley and I felt we really ought to make an effort and go. It was our first CEPIC. I mean, what’s not to like about Barcelona? Well, I’ll tell you exactly what’s not to like, but I’ll put it in my personal blog.
The fair ran from Tuesday to Friday, and it was a networkers’ paradise. Yvonne and I scheduled 38 meetings with picture libraries from Spain, USA, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Ireland, Russia, France, Poland, India, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, India and China. In addition we met more people at coffee time, parties, in lifts, at lunch, sunning ourselves outside, at restaurants — it was non stop, frenetic and immensely stimulating.
Unlike the Frankfurt Book Fair which is vaster than the wheatfields of the Mid-West, you had a chance to meet just about everyone. I mean, at Frankfurt the fiction rights director of Bloomsbury wouldn’t be seen dead talking to the sales manager of an STM publisher, but at CEPIC everyone was happy to be talking to everybody else. It was big enough to matter, yet small enough to care. If at times there was a sense of bumbling amateurism it was offset by genuine love and enthusiasm. And people weren’t afraid to gossip — ‘Oh, she’s AWFUL!! I avoid her like the plague!’ — and ten minutes later the two protagonists are seen in tears of laughter over a couple of glasses of cava.
The French air traffic controllers decided to strike that week, and some of the seminar speakers failed to turn up. So it was I got a panicky email from Heathrow on Tuesday night asking please could I speak at the metadata conference on Thursday morning? Of course I agreed.
We had meetings all the next day, so there wasn’t much time to prepare. No Powerpoint, thank God. So I jotted down a few jokes on metadata and winged it. If I can remember roughly what I said, I’ll write it down in a future blog.
When you’re on a podium, people you wouldn’t otherwise have met come up and speak to you afterwards, so that enhanced the fair still further for us.
CEPIC was great. Obviously only about 5% of the business we discussed will amount to anything (that cynicism is born from 35 years at the Frankfurt Book Fair) but we will see. And that 5% could prove to be very important.
Just to give you a flavour of the show, here’s a link to the estimable Photo Archive News’s picture coverage of the event. And if you scroll halfway down, past the party goers to the workers, you might find a photograph of the dedicated fotoLibra team in action.
Here’s an extract of part of the programme for one morning — and remember we were fitting in our meetings around the seminars:
- 10:00 – 11:30 Machine Readable Rights in Practice
- 10:00 Short introduction by Christina VAUGHAN/ CEPIC
10:10 Introduction to machine readable rights in the picture library industry by Abbie ENOCK
- 10:25 – 11:30 How can software help to manage rights?
- 10:25 Introduction by David RIECKS
Speakers on panel are: Christopher FRENNING/ Fotoware, Dennis Walker/ Camera Bits, Richard BAMFORD/ Extensis, Ramon FORSTER/ PicturePark,
- 11:30 Coffee break
- 12:00 – 12:35 What the users need: the (bad?) experience of buyers and sellers
- SPEAKERS: Michael STEIDL/ IPTC, Alan CAPEL/ Alamy, Christina GALLEGO/ La Vanguardia
- 12:50 – 13:55 The wider context: what is driving change?
- 12:50 Introduction by the moderator, Sarah SAUNDERS/ Electric Lane
12:55 Copyright developments in the UK, Paul BROWN/ BAPLA
13:05 IPTC’s Social Media test, Michael Steidl/ IPTC
13:15 PLUS show case of expressing a specific license, Jeff SEDLIK/ PLUS Coalition
13:25 CEPIC Image Registry project, Sylvie FODOR/ CEPIC
13:35 Panel discussion
- 13:55 – 14:05 The Camera: a Source of Rights Metadata?
- SPEAKER: David RIECKS will introduce examples of direct connections of cameras to the Internet.
Was it worthwhile? I think so. I hope so. We will see. Next year’s CEPIC will be held in Berlin.
I guess we’ll be going.
One member was so incensed by my last posting — about a potentially dangerous scam which could ensnare any of us — that he quit fotoLibra. “Your blog post wasn’t about photography!” he thundered. He was right, and I promised him that the next posting would be about photography.
I’m sorry to disappoint, because this still isn’t about photography — it’s about commerce, and ownership, and copyright, and images, and sales, and royalty free. I really shouldn’t write prescriptive pieces about photography because I am possibly the least skilled photographer who will read these words (though I will confess I’m a dab hand at Photoshop) but I do know what the picture market wants, needs and expects.
It’s hard enough selling images at the best of times, so my heart sank a little further in this worst of times when I saw an announcement from a microstock agency that they had nearly a million images to give away for free. We haven’t got a million images yet, and we don’t want to give them away. We’re asking money for ours.
For a large sector of the market, Price is the only consideration. I met an illustrated book publisher a few years ago who’d been to China and had picked up a set of DVDs of hundreds of thousands of free-to-use hi-res photographs. “We don’t need you any more,” he said crushingly. “We’se making books from dese images what we got.” (There’s a lot of class in publishing). Sadly, he isn’t in business any more, because the public stopped buying his repetitive titles.
All the same, a million free images? That’s absurd. So I signed up to the site to have a nosey around. To sign in, you create a username, supply an email address and a password, and click on the verification email. Then you choose your picture. Then the interrogation starts. Full name? Full address? City? Zip? Phone? Grandmother’s eyes? I dutifully complied — it’s rather more strenuous than registering on fotoLibra as a buyer — and selected an image to download.
Those of you with long memories may recall a little run-in fotoLibra had with English Heritage a couple of years ago when they told us to take down images of Stonehenge we were selling. You can read about it here and here. So I looked on Stock Free Images for photographs of Stonehenge. I got 34 results, not all of Stonehenge, of course.
© Galleria | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Here’s one I downloaded for free. It’s not bad. It’s not great, either, with visible signs of compression at full size, but it’s good enough for perhaps 70% of usages. Of course when the search results come up, the first images you see are the pictures that Dreamstime wants to sell you. Dreamstime is a microstock agency which owns Stock Free Images. So Free Pictures! is the bait to attract buyers to Dreamstime. Underneath their premium images you see the lesser ones which SFI are offering for free. I wonder if English Heritage will be chasing them?
I’d also like to know why the photographer J. Wallace (for much of the metadata remains with the image) allowed his or her photograph, taken on June 28th 2008 with a Canon EOS 400D, to be given away for free. We have three photographers named J. Wallace. I hope it’s not one of them.
Harking back to my illustrated book publisher friend, there’s enough content here to satisfy the least demanding critic. There are 645 free photographs of Golden Retrievers, for example. If I was in the business of publishing doggy calendars, why not start here? I only need 12 adequate images, after all.
Is it any wonder that buyers on a budget will look at sites like these first? This is a world where Adequate is good enough. On the other hand, to be tempted to sites like fotoLibra, buyers have to be able to
a) find images they can’t find elsewhere
b) be assured that the image quality is absolutely top of the range
c) ask our photographers for pictures they can’t find
We can’t compete on price. We haven’t got a million murky pictures to give away. So we have to offer a service which corporations like Dreamstime can’t dream of.
And we do. We’ll bend over backwards to accommodate our clients’ wishes, which is why fotoLibra sends out regular little notes from Jacqui with her impossible demands for our photographers.
But when the actual content is deemed so trivial and unimportant by companies like Dreamstime that they can simply give it away, I just think it’s a sad world for photographers and the picture business.
Don’t you? And what can / should we do about it?
Last Saturday I went to Lord’s to watch the third day of the England New Zealand test match, which was neatly wrapped up by England on the following day. Well played, Broady!
I was sitting with three old friends, and one of them — let’s call him David, as he values his privacy — told me this astounding story of how he had been scammed out of some £4,000. David is an intelligent and sophisticated man, a successful corporate advisor and business planning consultant. He is nobody’s fool. This, in his own words, is what happened to him:
I was sitting at my desk in London on the evening of Thursday, 9th May, when my telephone rang. A man introduced himself as DCI Harris from Holborn Police Station. He gave his number as EK 457. He said that two Eastern European men had just been apprehended on the suspicion of credit card fraud. They had details of various people that they might have been targeting and I was one of them. He gave me an incident/crime number (No. 29121575665) and advised me to get in touch with my credit card company and have a block put on my account(s).
I rang off and then looked at the back of my Barclaycard Visa debit card for the Barclaycard Customer Services contact number. I dialled the number and got through to a Customer Services lady (who later said that her name was Louise White) and I told her about DCI Harris’ advice. She took the details of my Barclaycard debit card and then proceeded to ask me some questions to verify that I was who I said I was. Among these questions were my date of birth and my mother’s maiden name. She also asked me to give details of a direct debit on my account, including the payee, the amount paid and the time of month that it was paid.
She appeared satisfied about my identity and then asked when I had last used the card. I said that I had withdrawn £100 from a bank in Essex on the previous day. She said that she could see that transaction, but she then mentioned four further transactions that had taken place that evening near to Oxford Circus. I said that these certainly were not my transactions. She said that my card must have been compromised.
She then said she was going off to see if she could get hold of DCI Harris to see if these might be transactions carried out by his suspects. She said that it was important that I stayed on the ‘phone while she did this, so that she was sure of my whereabouts. She returned a little while later to say that the police thought that they might have a suspect who was actually using a card with my number on it. He was later reported to have got away.
She then asked if I had any other credit or debit cards. I said that I had a Barclaycard Visa credit card and a Barclaycard Mastercard credit card. She asked for details of these cards and she looked up the activities on them. She read out a list of recent transactions on them and these were in the West End that evening. I said that none of them were anything to do with me. She asked me if there was anyone in my household who could have copied my cards. I said that there was only me, my cleaning lady and my brother, who had stayed overnight recently, and I was sure that they wouldn’t have done anything.
She then said that she must speak to her boss and again said that I must stay on the line while she was away, emphasising that I might be considered to be a suspect in a fraud. She came back to say that a special team in Surrey was working on this sort of fraud and they wished to have my cards to examine and contrast them with some counterfeit ones. They were going to send a courier to collect them. She would therefore put a block on my cards and would then ask me to put them in a sealed envelope for collection – it was important that only my recent fingerprints were on them.
She then went through the process of putting a block on each of the cards – this ended with me having to tap my pin number on to my telephone keypad. During the time that the courier was coming up from Surrey, she asked if I had any other credit cards and I said that I had an American Express card. She said that she would be able to ask American Express if there had been any recent activity on that card. I therefore gave her the card number and she came back with a list of very recent transactions. These had nothing to do with me. She therefore advised me to put a block on this card as well and went through the same procedure. She suggested that this should also be sent to the Surrey experts.
There then followed a period during which the courier was coming up from Surrey. While we were waiting, the Barclaycard lady said that she needed to write a report on this whole event for her boss. She asked me which phases I could remember and we constructed a report together. The courier then arrived in uniform, collected the envelope of cards and left. I didn’t get a view of any vehicle.
The Barclaycard lady wanted me to stay on line in case there were any further queries. I inadvertently dropped the receiver a short time later and was planning to ring the lady back, but couldn’t find her number. Without her pressure, I was able to think what I had done and realised that there could well be a scam here (although I had never doubted the ‘Barclaycard’ lady during our conversations). I thought that I would go down to Notting Hill police station and ask whether DCI Harris existed. They were very busy with other things at the station, but they took time to tell me that I was undoubtedly the victim of a scam and lent me their telephone to call the real Barclaycard. My respondent there confirmed that money had been withdrawn from each of my Barclaycard accounts in the last hour or two. I then realised that I had been completely hoodwinked.
I now realise that the key element in the scam was my telephone. When I rang off initially, the ‘policeman’ stayed on the line and the scammers were able to create a dialling code when I lifted my receiver and appeared to get through to the ‘Barclaycard’ lady. She kept my attention and confidence very cleverly throughout the rest of a very long conversation.
If you get a call like this, call your card company on a different phone, as per the last paragraph. If this can happen to David, then it can happen to any one of us. Fraudsters used to be relatively easy to spot — Dere valued Natwest customer pliz give me yore pin numbre now, yours in the Lord — but now they are getting smarter than us. David got his money back from the banks, of course, although American Express seem to be reluctant to settle. And the scammers have got away with £4,000 plus. And the banks will want to recover that somehow, so gradually they’ll get it back from us, in higher costs.
We all suffer.
Coming down and calming down from two hectic days at the London Book Fair, I’m sitting in our Harlech office looking out at the waves and the wind and the sunshine, and contemplating the immense power of books.
There’s no doubt the publishing world is in turmoil, with fewer people buying books, ebooks taking an ever larger slice of the pie, bookshops closing every week and a general air of uncertainty hanging over everything. This of course adds to the excitement, and there is, as always in publishing, this sense of ambiguity — are we in the right business? Should we be looking forward? Or over our shoulders?
Two companies expressed an interest, however veiled, in acquiring fotoLibra. Of course there’s a world of difference between acquiring and buying, but it’s interesting to see that some firms are discreetly expanding, and not necessarily in their core disciplines. I should add that these are the first signals of this type we’ve seen in nine years. Flattering, I guess.
To get an indication of the measure of hope in the business, I posed a theoretical question: “If you personally had fifty thousand to invest, would you put it in a firm making printing machinery or a firm making screens?” No one answered directly. Everyone nodded slowly.
There is a rearguard action. At the fair advertising king Maurice Saatchi launched his Books Are My Bag campaign, claimed to be the biggest ever promotion of bookshops. Who doesn’t love a bookshop? But we’re all buying online, and condemning them to a slow, lingering death. Asked to name my favourite bookshop, I hesitated — there used to be two in Crouch End, now there are none.
It’s not because everyone is buying ebooks. An ebook is still a book; it’s just presented differently. And the only ebooks that are selling are fiction. Illustrated ebooks, as we have found out to our cost, are hard to shift. Heritage Ebooks, which we launched with great hope and wonderful images from fotoLibra photographers, has struggled to find a market. We did a deal with The Folly Fellowship, an organisation concerned with the history and preservation of this curious aspect of Britain’s architectural heritage, to give their members a thumping great discount on the purchase of any of our forty Follies of England ebook titles. How many folly enthusiasts took up the offer? None. Not one. Zilch. That is disheartening.
But The Guardian tells me they’re now doing a feature on our Heritage Ebooks, illustrating ten of our ebook covers. That would be nice. I’ll believe it when I see it. BREAKING NEWS: They’re not doing it. Our ebook covers are Portrait format, and they said they needed Landscape. The covers have lettering on them — the book titles, actually — and they wanted them without lettering. It turns out what they really wanted was ten free photographs of follies.
Despite all this doom and gloom, the London Book Fair was humming. Large companies had dozens of tables, each one with four people talking intently with heads bowed. Business was being done. Smaller firms were concentrating just as hard. The only oases of quiet were to be found in the Arab quarter: huge, lavish, glittering, empty national stands, as depopulated as the deserts.
I captioned this piece The Power Of The Word. The word has more power to stimulate the imagination than the image, I regret to admit. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “People remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 50% of what they see and hear.” But we’re not told what sort of people they asked. These aren’t book people.
Book people feed on words. I’ll give you an example. I’ve known my old pal Mike for over forty years. We haven’t been in touch a lot since he left publishing, but we hooked up last Christmas and resumed normal service. For a Significant Birthday he was planning a tour of Japan. His highlight was going to be queuing outside a bookshop to be the first to buy Haruki Murakami’s new novel. That was, to borrow a phrase from Gilbert Harding, his Sole Purpose of Visit. What power can there be in words to drag a foreigner halfway around the world — literally! — to join (or in Mike’s case, form) a queue outside a Japanese bookshop? I wish I had readers like that. He’s still out there, by the way, and blogging about it as he travels around the country. You can read his adventures here. Oh — and he left book publishing to become a film-maker. Images for words.
So this week was the book fair. fotoLibra’s major source of income is from book publishers. Next week will be the picture buyers’ fair, fotoFringe in King’s Cross. It will be a busy week for us. And there will be some interesting NEWS from fotoLibra.