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Archive for August, 2011

Contemporary Art Vanity Art Book

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

So many art books
So many art books

I recently received the following email from Julia Adison, Assistant curator, I.C.A. Publishing:

ICA Publishing is accepting submissions for the third volume of International Contemporary Artists. This publication will feature works which offer a unique sensibility and approach to art. It will be an exploring journey to painting, photography, sculpture and other media with the most talented artists all over the world creating works and experimenting with new innovating techniques.
This book will provide an in-depth look at global culture of visual arts, appealing to established and emerging artists opening out the world of visual arts to a wider audience.
All artists interested in participating should send 4-5 images of their work in jpg format and a short statement or essay, no more than 100 words by email.
The book will be published in the end of October.
Further information about the book can be found here: www.incoartists.com

I visited their web site and noted the following stipulation regarding artist inclusion in the book:

There are no participation or entry fees.
The only requirement is to buy two copies of the book.

Ah – the catch. The artists are required to buy two copies of the book. Since artists must buy the book in order to participate that makes this a vanity book. Searching, I found that the previous edition listed as being $120.00. Assuming the same price for this volume and no discount, that means a potential outlay of $240 on the part of the artist. Assuming that they get at least as many participating artists as in the last edition (287) that means the minimum revenue for the publisher will be $68,880 (287*120).

Another item I noted was that the editor for the book is listed as Eve Lemonidou and the book publisher is listed as Lemonidou Eve. In other words the editor is self-publishing the book. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing but self-published books just don’t have the same impact as book published by a recognized publishing company.

Contrast the International Contemporary Artists example with the Expose series of books published by Ballistic Publishing. Artists who are chosen to particpate receive a complimentary copy of the book. In this case, the artist actually comes out ahead in that they get a free book! What this tells you is that Ballistic Publishers is relying on their ability to market and sell the book to the general public in order to cover their costs – including the costs of providing free copies of the book to all participating artists. What this also indicates is that the audience for the International Contemporary Artists book will most likely be limited to the artists who buy the book and the folks whom they show the book to. Another data point for an interested artist to consider is that at the time of this writing the Amazon Bestsellers Rank for the second International Contemporary Artists book is 1,707,199 while the rank for EXPOSE 9 is 230,082 and 279,003 for EXPOSE 8.

My advice for artists who are considering participating in this project is this: take your money and publish your own book! There are many print on demand publishers and it’s a pretty competitive market space. For more information on print on demand photo book publishers, see my review of the article “Closeup: Photo Books On Demand in my blog post American Photo Issue Review. Here is an example from one publisher I checked: for an 8.5 x 11 paperback book that is 20 pages long I could buy 16 copies of my book for slightly less than I would pay for two copies of the International Contemporary Artists book – again assuming a $120 per book cost to the artist. And if you want to you can sell your book on Amazon by using Amazon’s CreateSpace service.

So I have decided not to particpate in the offer to be in the International Contemporary Artists book. Of course other artists may think differently and decide that paying to be included in the book is worth the expense.

Note: there is additional commentary about this at MESART Scam and Hoax List.

The Illustration

The illustration is of bookshelves translated, transformed, and slightly distorted using Photoshop. Nothing serious – just playing around.

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