Thursday, March 03, 2011

Makingamark's Top Ten Art Books in February 2011

I've reviewed the best books relating to Fine Art in Februaty 2011 and revised and updated my information site Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art Books

I've also identified the best new books published last month - and these are being listed in my new website The Best New Art Books (update to be published later today)

Major changes in book listings in February 2011

The major change I've noticed is the vast increase in the number of Kindle books online.  I mean VAST!

If the categories were confusing before - hence why I started my monthly exercise to identify the best books - the situation is getting ever more complicated.  The net effect is that this is going to have a significant knock-on effect for the book market and the financial health of book publishers.  I explain why below

Plus Amazon really needs to sort out how it categorises books!  At the moment Amazon mixes the different books into hardbacks, paperbacks and Kindle books - and then mixes them all up again.  That in principle is fine.  It's the basic grotty categorisation of books which is causing the problem.  The art categories are now completely cluttered with every new Kindle book which confuses "arts" for "art" or might have "art" as a keyword somewhere in its description even if it's a novel.

Can you tell the filter exercise was a tad tiresome this month?

The net effects of all of this are as follows:
  • Kindle books - offered at much cheaper price - are swamping the best selling lists.  Since many of these books were published some time agoit's no longer a reflection of what is good and NEW
  • people are going to need curated lists more and more if they're not going to miss gems lost in the silt of the Kindle outpourings
As a result I've decided to  EXCLUDE the Kindle editions having seen how the differential pricing can have a huge impact on results - otherwise the listing will be kindle dominated and “proper books” will come nowhere.

I'm in the process of creating a second Kindle list - which will also try and incorporate what's going on with Apple's ibooks.  Tricky - and not resolved as yet.

Other points of note
Painting:  Many congratulations to James Gurney (Gurney Journey) who tops both charts in the painting section - his book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter is the best selling painting book in February and Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist is the the top rated book.

[Quick aside:  James today announced a 3 day painting workshop - see Painting Workshop Announcement]

Mixed Media:  I'm also noticing that mixed media seems to be getting a very high profile all of a sudden - which I think seeems to be linked to the SAHM passion for the craft side of art.

The main beneficiary in February is Pam Carriker (Living Art at the Speed of Life) with her book Art at the Speed of Life: Motivation and Inspiration for Making Mixed-Media Art Every Day. Take a look at her blog and this will give you some insight into the nature of her book - this is her gallery of journal pages
Largely self-taught, my work is reflective of the more than 20 years of experience using a variety of mediums and has been published numerous times in Somerset Studios, The Stampers’ Sampler, Art Journaling, Somerset Apprentice, and Cloth Paper Scissors and I serve in the Directors Circle for Stampington & Co.  
The Importance of being Online:  It's now very noticeable that a number of the top spots are being filled by artists and authors who have an active online presence with a strong educational slant and that not all they do is for a fee!  In addition to James Gurney, they also include:
Just noticed - maybe you also need to have a name beginning Aly...  ;)

Note that if you want to get to the top of top rated you need a lot of fans.  Being online means you have the chance to accumulte a lot of fans.  However that means active on the Internet, having a dialogue with fans and being generally of a caring and sharing mentality!

Art History:  I'm still tinkering with the filter for art history - not least becase Amazon and other fails to even recognise this as a category.  In Amazon UK you can find all the related topics listed under "Art Issues".

Nevertheless when I review the listings in different ways it's two "oldies but goodies" which come top - The Story of Art by: E. H Gombrich and Ways of Seeing by John Berger.  One gets the feeling that maybe somebody has just issues an academic reading list!

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