Self-publishing in the digital age: the hybrid photobook

Spowart, Douglas Ronald (2011) Self-publishing in the digital age: the hybrid photobook. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The inventor of the positive/negative process for photography, 19th century polymath Henry Fox Talbot, was so enthusiastic about the potential for his discovery that he made a prediction for a future where, 'Every man [would be] his own printer and publisher' (Talbot 1839:HS/17/289). Now, 170 years on, Fox Talbot's prediction is being realised. From the beginning of the process the value of the photographic image as a form of communication was instantly recognised, and photographs became a necessary and popular addition to books. The design and production of these books was usually overseen by the entrepreneurial and editorial control of a publisher. Book publishing required a raft of specialist tasks to be carried out under the control of production teams. This complicated structure usually alienated photographers from engaging in their own publishing ventures. Over time the book, consisting mainly of photographs, became known as the photobook and developed into an institutionalised form that was suited to the publisher's production methods, design styles, workflows and the niche clientele that they sought to satisfy. With the arrival of the digital age the gate-keeping bureaucracy of these publishing and printing industries have been swept aside. Now the photographer can totally selfpublish their own books as they have access and control over a host of digital technologies that have simplified the process. These include: digital capture, computer-based software for image enhancement and book design, inkjet printers and double-sided printing papers, online print-on-demand services that include design, marketing and sales capabilities. This exegesis seeks to address the limited scholarship on the discipline and to review the conceptualisation, design and production of the photobook as a communicative device in the digital age. This discussion is focused on the opportunity provided by users of these emergent technologies to break from the design and narrative norms of the traditional photobook. Of particular interest in this research is the role that the artists’ book discipline can play in informing the photographer as author, publisher and printer in the creation of contemporary photobooks. This research melds emergent digital technologies with the artists' book discipline and the author's concepts and workflows to establish the idea of a hybrid photobook. In doing so this exegesis creates a space for photographers to fulfill the Fox Talbot prediction of 'Every man [being] his own printer and publisher'.

Item ID: 32590
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: photobooks; artists' books; photography; self-publishing; digital publishing
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Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 05:15
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190203 Electronic Media Art @ 40%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190503 Lens-based Practice @ 40%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190599 Visual Arts and Crafts not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 34%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950205 Visual Communication @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 33%
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