Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If you buy art books on Amazon......

When I mention or recommend art books on Making A Mark or Making A Mark Reviews I frequently link to Amazon - so it behoves me to also mention 10 things Amazon won’t tell you as per the 10 things column in the Smart Money Magazine (of the Wall Street Journal)

Here are the headlines - with links to each tab - and it's very much a RECOMMENDED READ.  My brief comments and additions to the content of the article are in italics.
  1. "Take our customer reviews with a grain of salt." I wish somebody would explain to me why I need to carry a statement if I review a book which has been sent to me for free (see notes at bottom of blog) but Amazon doesn't appear to be under the same legal obligation
  2. "Kindle Fire? You might be happier with an iPad." Well I think most people get that Amazon is going to market its own product!  However this is an interesting review of the Kindle vs the iPad.
  3. "You'll spend a bundle on e-books." From what I can see the main expense of some e-books for artists derives from publishers setting prices which have no justification in terms of cost incurred!  They're also bucking the trend seen elsewhere in the e-book market - and some artists have noticed this!
  4. "Free shipping helps you overspend"  Tell me about it!
  5. "Our list prices are sometimes misleading." Bottom line - they get their percentage discounts wrong on occasion.
  6. "We hurt mom-and-pop stores." There's no question that online retailing has helped to close smaller independent book stores.  That's why I continue to support retail on the high street - I'd like them to stick around (even if Waterstones was responsible for the closure of a lot of independents in the UK!)  See below for more comments
  7. "We're slow to improve our working conditions."  Not good!
  8. "We know more about you than you think." Prepare to be shocked!
  9. "Our recommendations leave shoppers flummoxed." This is why I curate and create my booklists - I find Amazon to be hamfisted when it comes to recommendations
  10. "We don’t always have the best deals." !!!
This is the print version for your personal consumption.

Buying art books online or from a B&M art book shop
Ten years ago, there were about 4,000 independent bookstores in the U.S., according to the American Booksellers Association. Today, only about 1,900 remain. Amazon has revolutionized book publishing, Hottovy says, and smaller bookstores were unable to keep up
It's the same in the UK.  It's one of the reasons why I developed Art Bookshops - Resources for Artists
This site is developing a list of good art bookshops. Starting with bookshops in London, the intention is to identify other good bookshops in the UK and other countries.
Naturally it's a work in progress and new links will be added from time to time. If you know of a good bookshop and would like to recommend it please leave your suggestion as a comment
I have a deal with myself.  I'm allowed to buy art books online so long as I also remember to support those art book shops which are accessible to me.  I'm working on the principle that if we don't buy from the high street store then they will simply cease to exist.

In practice what happens is I always buy the really expensive ones or very big ones online - but that's as much to do with not having to lug them home on the tube!

The Making A Mark Book List

What also happens - if you frequent good art book shops is I spot books I never seem to come across online.

This week I developed a new art book site Making A Mark Book List - it's the list of books I've bought this year (or at least it will be once I've finished it - I've still got lots to add in!).  I thought it might be a neat way of sharing what I've found.  It's also a good way of highlighting books which you might not come across online.
This is a list of the art books I've bought and/or read this year. My aim is to share what I thought was worthwhile buying and why.
A small part of the area devoted to Art Books in Foyles in Cahring Cross Road.
Hence this week I left Foyles in Charing Cross Road with the following:
From which you can correctly deduce I've just discovered James Elkins who is the E.C. Chadbourne Chair in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He writes a neat dense slim volume!


  1. Just this week I came home with a book that I bought in the Queensland Art Gallery Store - Arikha by Duncan Thomson, wonderful drawings and paintings by Avigdor Arikha.
    Now I would never have bought this online because it was only after browsing through the book that I knew I had to have it.
    Online shopping has it's place but I do support your stand to keep the bookstores viable.

  2. Yes

    I still prefer B & M book stores.
    Because I too spot books not online. I love the accidental discovery.
    I don't want them all to disappear either.

    Also... more than once I bought a book online only to be disappointed by:

    The poor quality of a book in general.

    Poor quality images, you can't always see ENOUGH of a book online to know, plus, you are seeing it online so who really knows how good the images are.

    Too many black and white images of paintings that should be in color, especially when the writing about the painting is referring to it's color.

    The wait... still waiting... (buy at B & M, enjoy now)

    I really enjoy a day in the art book store, I always leave inspired, with books and a list of wants.

    In fact when one of my favorite used book stores closed (sad), Acres of Books in Long Beach. I had to do a watercolor of its demise (fortunately, the Art Deco building is going to be turned into an Art Center!).
    It was also a favorite stop of Ray Bradbury.

    We have at least two really good ART book stores remaining here in Los Angeles Area.

    Hennessey + Ingalls Art and Architecure Bookstore in Santa Monica.
    Arcana: Books on the Arts in Culver City.

    If you are in Los Angeles it's a must see.
    Both always have plenty to discover.

    1. I'll be asking you for a review David!

    2. Katherine,
      Review can do, it's been a while since I have visited each.
      I will have to return, oh darn!. ; )
      In fact the last time I was at Arcana they were still in Santa Monica, now there are in Culver City.

      Incidentally they both have websites:

  3. Yes to your entire list.

    That said, here in Sacramento, California, there aren't many good alternatives to Amazon. Tower Books used to have a good selection of art books in one of their stores, but they're long gone. Amazon has by far the best selection. (But I've tried to stop buying non-art books from them, largely because of the prices on e-books. It defeats the purpose of why I got the Kindle in the first place.)

    So I've preordered the Sorolla book from Amazon. I'll never understand why publishers print so few copies of those books: they sell out in weeks and then appear at antiquarian booksellers for hundreds of dollars.

  4. I enjoy seeing what you and others are reading, Katherine. Personally, I find the art book for Kindle (or any e-book) genre a hard sell. As much as I love e-books, the visual appeal of a screen is well below that of a real book.

    Having said that, the books I do read on Kindle in the art category are older "classics" like Vasari and Ruskin. And then, only on the plane.

    I am now reading (in hard copy) Matisse On Art, Jack Flam, Degas Landscapes, Kendall, and Steal Like An Artist, a very popular booklet by Austin Kleon.

  5. BIG YES! This is on top of my list though: "Our list prices are sometimes misleading." I do not buy too often from Amazon. I prefer to go to a physical store.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AGAIN due to very silly ignorant people who leave spam comments without realising they have no benefit for them.

Please feel free to comment on my Facebook Page as my blog posts are always posted there (but please note anonymous comments are not published and I block and report spammers to Google and on Facebook)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.