I would argue that buying even 5 great street photography books will do more for your photography than any lens out there would. And assuming that each photo-book was $50, that would cost $250. That is a small fraction of any lens that you could purchase out there.
Good reminder this weekend, when you have some time for reading. And for the holiday season, when those Amazon gift cards come rolling in.
A book is a special object, a time-tested conveyor of not just information, but emotion and connection. Some of my best friends are books.
…All the words are already online for free (it’s a collection of my online writing over the last four years). What you can’t get online, though, is the feeling of owning it and the joy of gifting it.
That’s why all the digital publishing platforms and blog posts in the world can’t replace a book: the joy of owning, giving, and experiencing.
My practice is, try to buy a photo book every month. For $20-50, I get an education and a way of seeing the world. It’s a darned good deal.
Godin’s book is $159 for writing you can read for free, right now. But it also has photos by Thomas Hawk, and is this massive monolith of thought and wit that you can take down and re-read – no batteries required. Godin’s book will sell out, surely, which says there’s a market and that the books is valued.
Craig Mod just kicked butt on a Kickstarter book project about a walk through Japan. Maybe, after all the hype about eBooks, people are realizing that physical books are just fine.
Books are humanity’s friends. Books are here to stay. They’ve been around for longer than most empires, and many will stick around for even longer.
While I love viewing photography online, and checking out blogs from my favorite artists, buying a book is a true vote of confidence for someone’s work.
When we buy a physical book, we can do with it what we want – cut up the pages, burn it for warmth, give it to friends, and so on. Because the contract of ownership between reader and object is implicit, not dependent on any third party, the physical book also becomes a true souvenir of the reading experience.
When I bought my first iPod, it opened me up to an idea: instead of carrying stacks of CDs in the car with me on road trips, with an iPod I could carry something the size of a pack of cards and have all of my music with me.
No more fishing for CDs, so more jewel cases slipping between the seats – everything about it was better.
The same thinking has not occurred to me with books, however. Maybe it’s that I don’t have a dedicated e-reader, so I don’t know what I’m missing. But I haven’t felt compelled to buy an e-reader, either.
So I still buy books. Good ol’ fashioned bound, paper, heavy books.
My favorites range all over the place: Carl Sagan takes the cake, of course, but also John Irving, a few political biographies, and a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. I like the heft of books, being able to open one anywhere and continuing where I left off. The smell of an old bookstore, the feel of the paper, my notes scribbled in the margins.
Some of that you can replicate with e-books. But not everything.
It’s not just books. It’s everything involved with books: libraries, book stores, “free books” carts in the classroom hallways. There’s a lot of infrastructure around books, and I like all that, too.
I understand that a lot of it is not necessary. Libraries are already evolving into “media centers.” Book stores are having a helluva time. Just as we don’t read scrolls anymore, the days of the book may be limited.
Unlike when we upgrade our video media, however, you can always pick up a book. It always works. It’s never obsolete or incompatible.
Maybe someday I’ll grab an e-reader and switch full-bore. Maybe. In the meantime, though, I’ll keep reading Dr. Sagan as I always have.