A&I Studios Helps Independent Publishers of Fine-Art Photography Books

PHOTOGRAPHERS. Publishing photo books can be a wonderful way to show your work to more people. As HP Pro Photography blogger Wayne Cosshall observes: “Compared to exhibition prints, photo books are readily usable, inexpensive, and can be widely distributed.” In terms of the type of photo book you might want to produce, you have more options than ever.

If your goal is to present your art to specific audiences, or to show your photographs in a finely crafted book, check out the independent-publishing services that the A&I Books division of A&I Studios in Hollywood, California offers in partnership with Great Circle Books.

The publishing experts at the boutique publishing imprint Great Circle Books can provide whatever level of support you might need to help set your book apart from most self-published books. Their goal is to help you maximize the value and impact of your print-on-demand book.

“Our publishing services could include anything from very basic proofing all the way up to advice on how to market and publicize the book,” explains Rex Weiner, editor-in-chief at Great Circle Books and head of publishing for A&I Books. You can get the benefit of designers, experienced editors, an all of the auxiliary services that contribute to the success of a traditionally published book.” As an independent publisher, you retain the copyright and full control over the contents and look of your finished book.

Specific services include:

  • Conceptual strategy to help focus your theme and explore marketing opportunities and publicity potential.
  • Image selection and sequencing to show your work to its best advantage.
  • Copy editing of your biography, introduction, and captions.
  • Editorial writing of bios or opening essays that talk about the aesthetics of your work or place it in historical context.
  • Proofreading to avoid misspellings, dropped words, or incorrect cross-references.
  • ISBN-number-registration for commercial distribution of your work to bookstores or libraries.

You can choose an ISBN number registration that identifies your publisher as A&I Books, Great Circle Books, or your own imprint.

Photo: John Livzey, www.johnlivzey.com

A&I’s indie publishing services start with a free half-hour consultation, so you can consider ideas that might not have occurred to you. Some recommendations will depend on what you are trying to achieve with the book.

Weiner says some photographers use print-on-demand publishing to create a prototype book that can help them land a deal with a mainstream publisher. Others choose to produce 32-page softcover gallery exhibition books to fill the middle ground between a show catalog and coffeetable book.

“Some photographers and artists produce higher quantities of softcover books for sale to consumers, and limited-edition hardcover books that can be numbered, signed, and sold as collectible items,” says Weiner.

Proof Book

One benefit of print-on-demand book publishing is that the first book can be used as a proof book. Take it home, pass it around, let others make suggestions, then return to A&I Studios. After you make the suggested adjustments, you can then make multiple copies as needed.

Photo: John Livzey, www.johnlivzey.com

Like many photo labs and commercial printing services, A&I Studios use HP Indigo digital presses to produce the photo books. But A&I takes pride in doing all of their printing and most of their bookbinding in house.

“A&I customers know that when they return for additional copies of a book, they can expect the quality to be consistent from one book to the next,” explains Weiner. This may not always be the case with photo-book publishers who outsource their printing and binding to different suppliers.

A&I can also help you design and produce custom books with case binding, fine-finished covers in a variety of leathers and materials, saddle stitching, foil stamping, or embossing and debossing, and other effects. Custom books are available in sizes up to 11 x 17 inches.

Legacy Photo Lab

Another thing that differentiates A&I Studios from other photo-book publishers is their long history of working with photographers.

“We’re a legacy photo lab. We come from the world of photography. We don’t regard ourselves as just another print shop,” says Weiner. “When we do a photography book, we look at it from the point of view of photographers. Our fearless leader Baret Lepejian grew up working in the darkroom with his father Isgo Lepejian, who was one of the top photography printers in Hollywood.”

Photogorapher Jeff Sheng used A&I's publishing support services for his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” photo books about men and women affected by the policy that banned gays and lesbians from openly serving in the U.S. military. www.dadtbooks.com

While Baret Lepejian helped their staff make the transition to the digital age, Weiner says, “He encouraged us to preserve the intimate exchanges that occur when a photographer wants to express his or her vision on the printed page. It’s very personal to each photographer and artist, and we take their needs seriously. We believe in the process as much as the result.”

Veronica Thomas, A&I’s director of marketing and business development, says that, “Our Indigo press operators are wonderful. They are artists themselves, and play that machine line a violin.”

The quality of books produced by A&I Books was confirmed in a test conducted by the New York Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. When they submitted an identical “test book” to 18 different print-on-demand publishers of photo books, the book produced by A&I Studios received the highest average score from the dozens of professionals who judged the quality of the 18 books without knowing which company produced them.


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