Complacency or arrogance?
When my first book Frisky came out in 2014, the book market was still different. I was able to sell around 250 copies to various shops around Germany and Europe. The common discount for selling books to shops is 40%, so they had a good margin.
Of course, you don't sell photo books like paperback novels, but when you present them in a nice way and stock a decent collection, there will be enough people interested. A photo book usually makes a perfect gift. But to attract the impulse buyers, you need to offer a variety of photo books.
Book stores used to do this by having a special section for photo books. When you walked through the store, there were often people hanging out there, browsing the selection. Long before I started photography myself, I remember having bought many coffee table books, just because I ran into them.
In the old days, there even were shops that were specialized in selling art books. Some of those were museum shops, others had their independent stores downtown somewhere.
Most of this has become history. Their overall policy has changed dramatically. The local dealers don't offer nude photo books anymore. As in social media, nudity is not socially aceptable any longer. This is a huge down-side for everyone photographing nudes.
Book stores that were offering my first book in 2014 were not putting Sublime up in their stock anymore. They became very high-nosed, asking for a discount of at least 55% or not answering at all when I sent them a trial copy.
I am aware that shooting nudes does not match our current Zeitgeist, because it's something entertaining and it shows a cozy ideal world. To meet the Zeitgeist, it needs to be more moody. Like black and white images of rotten places, people living in poverty, something where you can feel compassion and shock when browsing the book.
Being fully aware of how this system works, I see myself producing easy digestible images on purpose. This is my contribution to making the world better. To give people a time-out from their sorrows and all the bad news on media. To enjoy the easy life through pictures for a moment.
Nude photography books are a niche in the art world — but they need to claim their place.
Please, don't get the impression that I am very pissed on the behavior of the book stores. There are wonderful exceptions as well. For example, Leica Gallery in Frankfurt. They have an amazing collection of photo books and even if you can't afford a Leica camera, you should make sure to check their book store either in Frankfurt or in Wetzlar (at their head quarters).
They supported me even though I photographed the book Sublime with a Sony camera. And I am very thankful for this and don't take it for granted. Luckily my book is going well in their stores.
Also, the sales on Amazon are doing good. Even though the presentation of the book is not ideal in my eyes (images not large enough for example), but sometimes people get lost on the Amazon website and still order from there.
If you wondered why ordering from Amazon is so quick, it's simply because I am always sending out very fast. Amazon sends me the order, I go to the post office. Just like I do with every order I get on my own website (here).
So, online works. Most of the books were sold on my own website obviously. I guess, the actual reason why book stores are having a hard time in the competition with Amazon is that they don't concentrate on their advantages. Like taking care for a good relationship with their local people and presenting them books in a nice way and offering interesting (and regularly new) stuff to them.
I don't agree with them when they say, books aren't demanded by people anymore or Amazon is killing the local book stores. They should simply descend from their high horse and rethink their own position.