Monday, April 04, 2011

The Best Art Books in March

I've updated my two Squidoo sites for the best art books in March
  • Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art Books now lists both the best selling and the top rated art books in March
  • The Best NEW Art Books lists all the fine art books in the top 100 books in the Amazon Arts and Photography category in March.  (You'd be surprised how many of these are nothing to do with art!)
As many of you know the reason why I produce these is because Amazon is so utterly awful at categorising art books!   Or maybe it's the people who do the listings?  Whatever the reason it's difficult to wade through the irrelevant books to get to the ones relevant to art (excluding books for kids, comics and commercial artists).

Main changes this month

    The Top 10 Fine Art Books
    The UK cover of
    Seven Days in the Art World
    RECOMMENDED I've read this book and although I have not yet written a review about it, I'd certainly recommend it as a good read. It provides an insight into how the art world really works which may come as a bit of shock to some. Each of the seven chapters is a profile of a different aspect of the art world - from art dealers to auctions to art fairs. It's a bit like reading an accessible anthropological book about a strange world.
    • New Books - Modigliani: A Life by Meryle Secrest is a new best seller and looks to be an interesting book which has received good reviews from the heavyweight press.
    Best New Books

    The top new books are listed on the basis of looking back 90 days and forward 90 days.  On that basis a really good book which is selling well should show up in more than one "best new books" which is completely revised and updated each month.  So for March I'm looking at the best new books published or to be published between the beginning of January and the end of June.

    Very popular books - such as those by James Gurney start showing up as soon as they are listed and keep going.  However this month there were no popular books from previous months.  One gets the impression that those with mass market appeal don't tend to get published in the quarter after Christmas!

    I'm getting increasingly irritated by books which are being listed by publishers as if they are new when in fact they are either a reprint or a revised edition.  I commented on this last month and from now on I am naming names.  The reason why is because publishers and Amazon should be completely transparent and honest with their customers and should NOT mislead them in any way.

    Two books which are currently misrepresented on Amazon are:
    • Human Anatomy for Artists by: András Szunyoghy, György Fehér.  (Publishers: hf ULLMANN )Although represented as a new book this book has actually been around for some time.  It's also got 12 reviews which say it's a pretty good book - but they do date back to 20th October 2005!  There is absolutely nothing in the listing - other than the reviews which indicate that this book existed prior to its stated publication date of March 15, 2011
    • How to Paint Living Portraits by: Roberta Carter Clark (Publishers: North Light Books - April 26, 2011)  How do I know this is an existing book?  Could it be because I met Roberta Carter Clark many years ago (she's a totally delightful and very knowledgeable lady!) and bought her two books on portraiture shortly afterwards! ;)  Seriously - I've had this book on my book shelves shelves for many years.  On Amazon, its earliest review dates back to 1999.  65 out of 65 people agree with a review in February 2000 which indicates that this is a "...a standout, user-friendly instructional book.." (which is a description I'd agree with). However there is NOTHING in the Amazon listing that indicates that it was first published in 1990 - other than a quote from a Library Journal review back in 1990!  Given that the publishers description on Amazon for a book is entirely down to the publisher's discretion when listing I'd be interested to know what North Light Book's explanation is for the omission of this critical information!  I know that I had my mouse hovering over the "buy" button before it struck me that the title was familiar!  Over on their own website however the listing is a little bit clearer. 
    First published in 1991, How to Paint Living Portraits has recently been reissued in paperback and with a fresh design. 


    Mind you - I have to say though it's a stunning new cover - I'd certainly be reaching for it in a book store!  Above - you can see the 1990 cover on the left and the 2011 cover is on the right.

    What do you think about new books which are actually reprints or revised editions but are not clearly indicated as such in the listings on Amazon?

    See the page at the top of this blog for more Recommended Art Books

    1 comment:

    Karen Martin Sampson said...

    Hi Katherine, Very interesting post. I have written down the titles of both the new books you mention and hope to read them at some point soon! Also, yes, I am familiar with the practice of advertising older books as being "new" and I have nearly bought books I already had due to the new edition having a different cover. I always peek through books before I buy so I know what I'm getting.



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