Wednesday, February 17, 2010

eek, help, i need your help on the rope bridge

In the last few weeks I've been talking to a book publisher interested in giving 52 Suburbs a life
beyond its digital form and current 52 week lifespan (due to end this August/September).

I've never had a book published but in my mind's eye I imagine the process of getting it from idea
to solid, printed matter might resemble one of those crazy obstacle courses - where at every turn
there's a new and challenging hurdle to tackle.

Right now I'm at stage one - the rope bridge. Not overly demanding but a little hard to get a firm
grip on - how the book might look. It's just part of the presentation the publisher will make to her
group but to me it seems a really important one to get right.

Is it a large coffee-table number with many images (diptychs mainly) on one spread? Or a smaller,
chunkier affair with one image per page (a little like The Sartorialist book for example)? Is it thick
glossy paper or a thinner stock, with more of a matte look?

I need to get back to her on this pretty quickly but I'm a bit stuck on it to be honest. So I thought
I'd ask you. Lots of you have been saying how much you'd like the project to turn into a book
so I'd love you to have some input in how it actually turns out. This has been and is such a shared
adventure it seems natural and right that we decide together how it looks and feels.

So please, fire away - any thoughts will be most appreciated. And even if you don't have an opinion
on the look and feel, maybe just leave a comment or shoot me an email about how you'd feel
if 52 Suburbs transcended its digital life and became a flick-able, own-able, long-life book.


  1. Talk about the lush content and leave the grand plan what it should look like to the people who build the books. That way you talk about whet you do without spending their money for them. (experts hate newbys telling them how to invest their money). Your ideas and your look is great so really show them what you are good at.
    cheers, Mark

  2. Lou. I feel it would be scary to put an image per page as the gutter might ruin the overall effect of the diptych as you would lose considerable image area.
    Best I think to keep the two images on one page and save the opposite page for a small amount of copy. Keeping the look/feel similar to the blog.
    An A4 horizontal format will work beautifully. A square 210x210 also but would restrict the landscape shape of the diptich.
    If you go for shiny stock which will enhance the reproduction of your images then make sure it's thick gsm. Not flimsy.
    I think a thicker matte stock would be beautiful. But it's personal.
    Big or little? If little go cute postcard horizontal. Big is better in my view. Love your work.

  3. Wow, a 52 Suburbs book, that would be so cool! Thank you for including us - I'll give it some thought and get back to you later today!

  4. definitely keep the diptychs on one page, this is something i really like about your work, you pair your photographs so well together.

    i think a square format book, and matt, or maybe semi gloss.

    btw your 52suburbs photography is very inspiring, i had a similar idea last year but never quite got it started!

  5. Make sure you keep the titles of the diptychs and I'd also love to see your little written summaries of each suburb included (i.e. photos and words).

  6. I don't know if I have a preference for style of book, actually. I know I'd buy either one! I think your pics are made for glossy paper though. :)

  7. Something like the Lonely Planet Travel Book would be an interesting format, but obviously with more pics of each location.

    Each suburb would need a leader photo- something that you can look at and say it really identifies each location.

  8. I really love the size of my 'jamie at home' cookbook. It's just the right size to be impressive and practical.
    (I measured it - the cover is 25 x 19.5).
    I love the way you pair your photos and then title them - so I reckon a diptych on each page.
    But I also like your single images as well.
    And the blurb about the suburb at the beginning of each suburb - kind of like you do now.

    And not glossy paper (fingermarks)or matt (can look cheap) - somewhere in the middle.

    And I agree with Anonymous No.1 ie "keeping the look/feel similar to the blog".

    That's my 2cents worth.
    Hope it helps.

  9. The thing that I love most about your blog are the two images that you place together (often in unexpected, but "just right" ways). They get my mind buzzing and creativity flowing. I love it. I'm all for 2 pics per page and minimal text. But I'm sure whatever you decide will be "just right."

  10. I'd agree with the person who said leave it to the experts... that said, don't write off using a lovely textured matt paper, it seems to fit with the faded grandeur of Sydney somehow and gloss always seems to 'bling' up places which your lovely blog seems to avoid.

    Your blog is great and its really helping me to settle into Sydney and find a new place to live... Come up to Pittwater soon?

  11. My vote is big, heavier stock and (as with most others) keep the diptychs together! I don't know much about the whole finish thing but speaking to a friend in the print industry, he's always been a fan of the satin finish (which is probably 'in the middle' as per freefaling's comment).

  12. Dear all
    Thank you so so much - this is great feedback and I really appreciate you taking the time to think about it and measure other books even!

    And don't worry, I would never break up the diptychs - they are married forever!

    Louise x

  13. Hi. I definitely think you need to keep the images side by side as you have done on the blog. smaller is better, for people wanting to walk the suburbs with you! You could have some hero pages, full bleed side by side then thumbnails side by side interspersed throughout. tab the suburbs.
    would be great to include a festival / events page or see and do page similar to a 'best of' like they have in the good food guides along with your summary.
    Oh my lord how exciting!

  14. hello.

    exciting news!!

    my preference in general is for matt (uncoated) stock, but i realise this tends to result in a duller, flatter photograph. your pictures have really striking definition and contrast though, so perhaps they won't suffer all that much.

    i love that the diptychs will be kept together -- you have put so much thought into the pairing of images, and it is a major element in the look of the website. i think an image per page is right -- if your designer leaves a small white/black strip in the gutter, none of the picture would be lost in the spine.

    thus, sizewise, i think small and chunky. do you know the melbourne and sydney design guide series? sort of A6-ish, i think. it would be an intimate viewing experience, and even if the book ends up quite chunky (as per the melb/syd design guides), it would still be easy enough to carry around for personal suburb expeditions. you could include little maps in an intro to each suburb.

    and then, there could be spreads that just contain a mosaic of tiny diptychs, for variety.

  15. My immediate thought is also small and chunky, I don't know why. I hope that you can include a map for each suburb - so much of this is ownership, people get that with the personal, close-up details, and they will want to visit these places. Semi gloss would be my choice.

  16. DEFINITELY a big coffee table book (I think The Sartorialist really took a wrong step there). Beautiful big photographs and something people can lovingly touch and look's all about the pictures, the more room to breathe, the better.

  17. Contratulations on the book - will be fantastic!

    I am imagining large pages, thick with glossy photos. I like the idea of an earlier poster about a map, perhaps that could go along with your little intro that you always include on your entries.. Whatever, I am sure it will be awesome!

  18. A hardcover in the style and shape of an old Gregory's street directory. But in the inside nice white pages, satin to matte finish, with your diptychs centred and small font like on the blog.

    I have Christmas presents sorted for 2010.

  19. Oh how exciting. I think your book would look fabulous using the diptychs together on one page. Nice and big, but with plenty of white space around to frame the pics nicely. Semi-gloss or satin finish would be nice. I would love to see a map on the other side of the diptych with your notes about the area. If going on the small side of things, I have a fab little book called 'Tokyo Style' which would suit your pics as well. I think it's an A5 and is back to back pics. Good Luck. I'll buy your book in whatever format. Oh and how fabulous would it be if you had a small collection of postcards of your diptychs at the back of book to share across the seas.

  20. i agree with the small and chunky look as well. making it more accessible to bring it around. Not framing Sydney as big and angsty, if you get what i mean. Homely.

  21. I love the idea of prefacing each suburb with a small is something I sometimes look up on my own after I read one of your posts and it would be a value added content not available on the blog.

    As for the rest, go with your's your personal project and the overall aesthetic projected from it should feel like you. While the professionals are indeed skilled and may have ideas you love...don't be afraid to speak up against something that doesn't feel right to you. It will be wonderful. Good Luck!

  22. I would love a smaller book with
    g a thinner stock, with more of a matte look..with a set or two of pix on each page. I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  23. I agree with Di Jones, and can't wait to see the book. I think matte stock would also suit but its up to the artist isn't it. Love your work Louise. Moments of places captured in time and your captions are always well considered and perfect.

  24. No matter what will be your choice for the look and feel of the book, I'm sure the pictures will just stand out !
    Have you ever made any "by night" version of one suburb ?

  25. I'm not fussed on the format, I'll be buying it either way!

  26. Hi Louise
    I have been loving this series - to the point that you've inspired me to hunt down free software and make diptyches of my own photos - and would most certainly snap up a 52 suburbs book. A smallish format with one diptych per page would be lovely. Normally I tend towards matte finish, but there is something so jewel-like about your photos that, to me, is begging for a lovely glossy finish. Maybe matt colour finish for the suburb write-ups, and gloss for the images?

  27. You gorgeous wonderful people - thank you so much - such great suggestions and so much positivity - I have been out shooting for most of the day and am pretty tired - but when I read your comments I feel refreshed and full of sparkle again. Thank you.

  28. Hi Louise
    I know you've had many comments but i also would like to add my 2 cents worth! I picture your book being square-ish with one diptych on each page, the layout mirror image of each other. They would start about 1 inch down the page. The left hand page would have the image starting from bleed on left right across the page, almost to the other side but not quite. Then the text neatly lined up under the image, possibly right-aligned. This would allow most of the lower half of the page to be white space, setting off the images well. Sometimes you could swap the images and text so the images are below the text, still with plenty of white space around the top half of the page. Hope this helps!

  29. Hard cover, square, not as tall as A4, but wider. Freefalling got it right on two counts: the Jamie Oliver books are about the right size, and somewhere between gloss and matte. Can't wait!! Straight to the pool room...

  30. Wow! I just discovered your blog and it's great! No wonder you're getting a book deal. Congratulations! You got some great advice here too! I'll be back!

  31. WOW a book is a fantastic idea. I invision it as a heavy hardbound book, on matte stock. largish but not scarey large.

    I have a kind of 'life on pittwater' kind of book in mind. I think you need something high-end to do your pictures justice. Hope this helps, keep up the good work...

    p.s would love to see a Kirribilli section

  32. I would definitely buy your book, Louise!

    And my preference would be for something smaller rather than big coffee table.

  33. Gosh thats fantastic news. I have so thought that it would make an excellent book. You have such a good eye and do just trust your gut feeling on what you would like in a book. I live in the north west of sydney called Rouse Hill. Perhaps 52 suburbs could visit here one day. It is steeped in history and hosts the famous historic house called Rouse House. Who knows the book might turn into many more than one. You could just end up photo essaying all the sydney suburbs over time. I love the blog.

  34. My two cents...

    It's interesting you mention The Sartorialist because if I remember correctly, he had offers to do a big coffee table book but he wanted something at a price that most people could afford. He also wanted a manageable size that people would pick up again and again and flip through, without compromising on quality....

    Think to yourself "who do I want to read this and how do I want them to interact with the book?" For example, do you want people to be able to wander around areas with the book in hand? That will guide you, I think.

    Best of luck :)

  35. What a wonderful eye you have for juxtaposing images I lived in Eastwood as a teen and that church is where I used to drop into for peace and relection on the way home from uni 40 years ago. Love that youlove it too.

    This is a huge project and if you have a slim line book for each suburb/neighbourhood, we could buy the suburbs we want and build up a personal library of where we have lived - they'd make special housewarming gifts.

    Huge project and we wish you all the very best

  36. Congratulations Louise!! I think your work will look fantastic in any format, but personally I like the idea of a smaller book. I think it would complement the intimacy and personality of this blog.

    I'm so happy for you. Well done. (I liked the video spot too ... nice to put a face to the name/blog)

  37. Lousie, one idea is to scour bookshops and friends' bookshelves for books which already have the look and feel you are after, then buy or borrow the ones you really love and take real examples to any meetings.

    Somehow word-based descriptions of looks/designs just never get through to book publishing people (many of whom pretend to be visually literate but are really aesthetic knuckle draggers).

    Your own sense of composition and design is so good that you ought to insist on strong control of the book's design. The more you stay in control, the better it will look.

  38. Wow, such great feedback everybody! Thanks so much to each and every one of you for your invaluable '2 cents worth'.