Monday, January 09, 2012

Makingamark's Top Ten Art Books in December 2011

This post is my normal monthly review of the top ten art books sold in the last month - December 2011.  You can see more about:
First a preamble about identifying the top fine art books.

Commentary the fine art book market

I started doing this review because I'd become very familiar with just how poor the categorisation was on Amazon and how difficult it could be to identify good fine art books

It doesn't get any easier!

Sales in December seemed to correct some of the very odd results I got in November.  However "Music" and the "Performing Arts" are still unaccountably mixed up with what used to be the Art, Architecture and Photography category on  They are nowhere to be seen on which has a completely different system for categorising books - and a completely separate category for Music, Stage & Screen!)

Does this mean sales of art books are way down in the USA?

Or does the current algorithm leaves much to be desired?

I lean towards the latter being the explanation having seen some quite ludicrous so-called art book entries in the top 100 of the Arts  (and that's other than items like the Thomas Kinkade Disney Collection: 2012 Wall Calendar - I kid you not!). 

What it does mean is that the top 100 books in December / January are dominated by books about music and calendars!  Not at all helpful to those trying to find a decent fine art book!

What's very interesting is that expensive books about art history have come to the fore of late with two books about understanding art history taking the top two slots for art books in the top 100 books about art.  Maybe they make great Christmas presents?  Or maybe they're so expensive they only ever get bought as presents?

Also I've yet to understand the rationale for why an ebook is more expensive than a print book.  Yet I've now come across several examples of the ebook having the higher price tag.

Another interesting aspect was seeing a book which purported to be the most popular book in one category - but was absolutely free in the Kindle version while the paperback was priced.  I can't help but think this is an edited "trailer" for the real thing.  I ignored it on the basis that it was not a new book and it had no other merits when published four years ago.

I'm also beginning to see quite a few self-published books - some of which are a long way short of adequate.

Also, while I was compiling the listings for December, I kept running into whole swathes of explicit adult p**n books in the "arts" section.  I'm assuming that Amazon has been caught napping and that if it has any sense it will realise it will lose a lot of customers if it continues to allow such books to be mixed up with books which children might want to access.  If it doesn't disappear I'll be telling Amazon exactly what I think of its new role of pimp!

I can't help thinking that wading through the nonsense of some of the rankings on Amazon and elsewhere might just be about to get a lot more difficult in 2012.

On to the results for December........

The Top Art Books in December 2011

There was so little change in the top art books in December that I was prompted to create the post about Makingamark's Top Five Art Books in 2011.  This identified that at least five books had been top of one or more categories - and sometimes top of both best selling and top rated - for all or most of 2011.

The new books which got into Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art Books in December are:

I'm looking forward to making some changes to the way books are presented in 2012 .

Changes planned for next month are
  • the introduction of a new category for the All Time Best Art Books (of recent times) so as to be able to identify which are the emerging "next best" books.
  • the identification of the Top Art Books on Kindle in 2012.  I've got a new site planned and set up for this - and will be doing monthly updates - however it's experiencing a technical glitch at the moment.  I'm hoping to have it up and running before the end of the month
  • a more more efficient and effective way of me keeping my records - so I can spot the trends more easily!

The Best New Art Books in December 2011

The Best NEW Art Books contains the new listing for December.

December is not a month when major books are published.  Ones which are aiming to capture the Christmas market will be published in the late Autumn.  Thus the ones published in December can sometimes seem a bit odd.

The oddest thing was Harold Speed's book on Drawing being published as an ebook on 25th December - as if it were a new book!  I'm also seeing a number of older books emerge as the digital ebook market takes off. Line and Form (1900) (Illustrated) by: Walter Crane is another example.  I've also got one example of resurrection in the artists section of this month's selection.

What is completely and utterly depressing is that there isn't a single fine art book in the top 20 new releases in Amazon's new Arts & photography section.   As a  result of this and other experiences while reviewing listings I decided not to declare a best selling new book or a top rated new book.

However I can already see lots of indications that January is going to be a bumper month for new publications!

More about New Fine Art Books

I've started developing some sites to keep better track of new books.  These include:

Drawing2011: NEW Books About Drawing and 2012: NEW Books About Drawing'
These include books about fine art drawings as well as books offering instruction on how to draw.

Painting: 2011: NEW Books about Painting and 2012: NEW Books about Painting These are books about both painting and painters

Mixed Media:  2011: NEW Books about Mixed Media Art - I'm tending to find that these books lean heavily towards craft rather than fine art.

PS  I've also given The Best Art Business Books a major update.


  1. Kinkade Disney collection and the words p**n and pimp in the same art book post? It would be funny if it wasn't so depressing.... off to read the lists now - there are book vouchers to spend. Thanks, as always, for putting all this info together.

  2. I hadn't thought of it like that!

    I was totally depressed by the time I'd fought my way past the spreadeagled n*ked "ladies". It was as if Amazon had transformed into the top shelf in some sleazy newsagent.

    Actually that's not true - I gave up. That's why there are no best selling or top rated books.

    Can I recommend taking a very good look at the lists of new drawing books and new books about painting and painters - they're much more interesting than Amazon is right now

  3. I had another look this morning and it looks like the moderators at Amazon have found the explicit adult images and removed the books.

    Not fast enough for my liking..........

    They really need to gets their systems in gear given the explosion in self-publishing.


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