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Publisher Bets on Big Collectible Books

12 May 2013

From The Wall Street Journal:

While many book publishers are heavily investing in the digital frontier, Benedikt Taschen is looking to corner the market in oversize collectible books.

His Cologne, Germany-based publishing house, Taschen, collaborated with Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photojournalist and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador who spent the past eight years traveling to remote places untouched by deforestation, urbanization and the modern world, to produce “Genesis.” The 704-page two-volume collection of black-and-white photos depicts Mr. Salgado’s trek, which included a 47-day journey tracking 7,000 reindeer across Northern Siberia and a roughly 525-mile hike in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

. . . .

The massive art edition retails for $9,000, weighs a combined 130 pounds—packaging and bookstand included—and stands nearly four feet tall.

. . . .

Mr. Taschen is no stranger to gigantic books. In 1999 his company published “SUMO” by photographer Helmut Newton, which weighed 78 pounds. While the book originally retailed for $1,500, copy number one of “SUMO” sold at a Berlin auction in 2000 for $430,000. Taschen only published 10,000 copies.

The art edition of “Genesis,” of which there are 500 leather-bound copies, will include a signed print (clients can choose from five different photographs) and a custom-made stand from Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

A collector’s edition, with a 2,500 print run, will be bound in leather with a cloth cover and include the stand but not a print, for $3,000.

. . . .

There is also a $70 coffee table edition, which has been translated in Italian, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese. That version has sold roughly 300,000 copies abroad and is on its third print run. It hit U.S. bookshelves on May 1.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Books in General

3 Comments to “Publisher Bets on Big Collectible Books”

  1. “The massive art edition retails for $9,000…”

    Yikes, if that was the price of the Kindle edition it would bring a $3150 per unit royalty.

    (Of course, I’m ignoring Amazon’s digital download fee.)


  2. The monster collectible special editions mainly serve as gimmicks to attract media attention, but Taschen also offers affordable editions of great artbooks on any subject imaginable. I love flipping randomly through a Taschen book for inspiration.

    Taschen is also an example of a publisher for whom e-books will continue to play only a very small role, because art books still require paper for the full impact.

  3. “The massive art edition retails for $9,000, weighs a combined 130 pounds—packaging and bookstand included—and stands nearly four feet tall”

    See, I see this as a multi-leveled scuplture. The book is a sculpture which includes information about art (including, probably, sculpture).

    This is Book as Artform (which coffee table books always were, really), and I think it’s cool.

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