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Sunday, December 18, 2005

'Appreciating' Books

A New List

I love books. I also think that books of photographs are how photographers communicate best. They're how photographers share their work with each other and with their audience, and how they "set" their work in stable, finished form for retrieval by posterity.

If you can get the knack of spending time with them, they can be as fulfilling as music.

Readers of my older online column "The Sunday Morning Photographer" will remember an Amazon list I put together years ago called Readings for Practicing Photographers. In that list—which wasn't even limited to books about photography, much less to books exclusively of pictures—I winnowed out 25 books that I think are helpful for photographers and people who want to become photographers, or that were significant to me.

But as I've written elsewhere, photo books can be great to collect, too. They tend to receive rather limited press runs, which often don't outlive the interest people have in them—so they go up in value over time. Some of them do, anyway. The great classic books of photography can now cost many thousands of dollars. I have in my own library dozens of books that have increased more than tenfold in value since I bought them, and even a handful that I bought as remainders, for bargain-bin prices, that are now worth north of $400 each. Several books I have would be difficult to replace period.

So what I've done now is to put together a brief new list (only ten books, and the winnowing wasn't easy) specifically of books that will appreciate in value. Naturally, no one can predict the future; but my track record is pretty good. I'm placing my bets that these ten titles, all of which you can buy new today for retail price or less, will all be worth more ten years from now than you'll have to pay for them now. In some cases, I'm guessing, significantly more.

Of course, I could be wrong (although I won't be wrong about all of them). Only time will truly tell. I'll probably still be writing about pictures ten years from now, however. If you're still reading, well, then we'll see how I did!



Blogger Mr. Hill said...

This is a great topic, especially for me, given that I have a couple of weeks off from school now and have the time to hit the library looking for a few of your suggestions.

I'm in the middle of Geoff Dyer's The Ongoing Moment right now and am enjoying his personal, if somewhat scattered, approach to the history of photography. Anyone have an opinion on this one?


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