Tuesday, April 15, 2008

5B4 Photography and Books in Year One

“I tend to cast a wide net over the medium (photography) as to what sparks my interest. When people look at my bookshelves they are amazed - as I often am - when comparing my photography to the variety of titles on the spines of my book collection. 5B4 is a way for me to rediscover what has parted me from my money and to try to understand those objects in a critical way. It’s an exercise for my mind. To physically type these words helps me to think differently and forces me to form opinions that are, for the time being, steadfast. Although 5B4 appears to be for others, it is really just for me.”

This was my original statement for why I started 5B4 Photography and Books and it is still the reason I dedicate part of my time to writing about photobooks. 5B4 started one year ago today in the evening of April 15th 2007 after I returned from the post office to deliver my 2006 tax return. This was an important event because the week prior, I had added up all of my receipts from book purchases for the year to claim my usual deduction and the total amount shocked me. Truth be told, the final amount always shocks me. This set me onto thinking about why I place such importance on books, what makes a book a book and not just a group of photographs, and what compels me to collect them.

To express verbally what one receives from a work visually has always been a difficult task for me to fill. 5B4 has turned that difficult task into a curious distraction and a pleasant outlet in which to examine my obsession.

So now 5B4 Photography and Books is one year old. I wrote 199 posts and mentioned approximately 365 books last year. I hope this next year proves as interesting. In a couple months I will have some big news that most of you will be very interested to hear. Until then, the cat stays in the bag. I appreciate the readers and all of you who have left comments. I know I have a large readership so it is nice to hear other opinions. Thank you.

I have started a sister site to 5B4 Photography and Books called 5B4 Photobook Exchange which offers some books culled from my collection for sale or trade. I am not turning into a dealer, I just need to rid myself of unappreciated titles and find them some new homes (while possibly padding my dwindling income in this poor economy). Many are collectible, signed, inscribed or association copies and others just need some new love.

I also added a donation button should you appreciate what I am doing and wish to contribute something to the coffers. Think of me the same way you do to National Public Radio but without the pledge drives. I’ll be here even if you do not contribute but any amount is appreciated. Keep in mind that due to the cut Paypal takes on each transaction, contributions under one dollar pretty much just go into the pocket of Paypal.

Please stay tuned...


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday 5b4, keep up the great work!

a mind with no ceiling said...

Hello Jeff,
After weeks of strolling down your archives since I discovered your blog it was time I showed my great, great appreciation of your work here and wished you (and us!) another year of thorough book reviewing.
I also have a deep love for photobooks, that sucks in too much of my limited income but more importantly that feeds my eyes and soul with constructed bits of photographs, texts, and more.
I totally understand how it has been an exercise for your mind, as you say, writing down the thoughts provoked by photographs in an articulate way is not a simple task, but part of what I appreciate here is that you review from a photographer's vantage point, so it seems, and not from a critic's. Hence the presence of authors (like John Gossage to name just one) that are all too neglected by the photo-art-intelligentsia.
If it weren't for the language I'd probably express more remarks from time to time, but for the time being I'll just Thank you (with a capital T).
And boy did you make me drool with that Christie's Auction!
Thanks again, from Paris,

Anonymous said...


i visit your blog on a regular basis, and I find every post you publish extremely interesting and useful, my last book purchase was based on a post you made. i think more than the reviews i am thankful for the fact you also talk about books that are not published by major publishing houses.

keep up the good work. ;)

abraço, zé luís from Portugal

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, from someone who reads your posts daily. I share your (intense) love of photo books, and have been collecting for over 25 years. Keep up the great work!!

Mel Trittin said...

Congratulations! 5B4 has had a profound affect on me. The amount of information and knowledge I have gained from subscribing is inversely proportional to the balance in my checkbook from buying books. Thanks!

Matt Weber said...

Hey Jeff, I've already bought 3 books that I wouldn't own because of your reviews. The best example of a book I didn't even know of was Menschen Erleiden Geschichte. There was only one bookseller in Germany offering it, and I've got an aunt in Stuttgart who was kind enough to buy it for me. I look forward to it very much and thank you for all of your hard work!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jeff.

I still check in at least once a week, but I can thankfully say that though I have contemplated it many times NOT ONCE has 5B4 caused me to part with my money.


Stay Gully...


Ross McDonnell said...

happy birthday and many happy returns for this tasteful website: a place that is so thankfully free of the hero worship and sycophancy that characterises so many pages related to photography.

Unknown said...

I apologize for my belated response.
One year of good and informative writing about books and photographs.
Your blog has strengthen and deepen my relation to photographic books and make it more delightful.
Even though I haven't buy many of the books presented, I was led through them to buy others.
Your posts and thoughts alone, are a pleasure to read.
Keep on sharing them with us.


Anonymous said...

Really full of yourself, aren't you?