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The Last Book by Reinier Gerritsen (video)

The world—and the word—is in the process of becoming less and less dependent on paper. Our reading habits, especially as they occur in public spaces, are subtly shifting each day. In The Last Bookpublished by Aperture this fall, photographer Reinier Gerritsen has taken up the current plethora of books and their readers on New York City’s subways as the proverbial canary-in-the-coal-mine: an indicator of the still-robust nature of public readership in the face of its ostensible decline.

Gerritsen’s photographs of people reading books on the subway began with modest observations and evolved into The Last Book, a series of unexpected documentary portraits. His book also includes an illustrated index and bibliography charting readership. We joined Gerritsen on the subway in New York City, where he took us through his process of shooting and editing. Of the chaotic, crowded cars, Gerritsen remarks, “The light is magnificent . . . it’s such a dense situation of people. A lot of sociological events are very visible in the subway.”

The Last Book and a limited-edition print by Reinier Gerritsen, Haruki Murakami, 1Q84, 2005, are available online.

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