On Saturday, August 25, 2018, over 60 participants came to Aperture Foundation to attend the first-ever BookMaker Symposium. The day was filled with short and sharp presentations by seven speakers who discussed their practice, work ethics, and what it means to make and distribute a book. There was a wide variety of presenters, each of whom brought their own unique perspective and advice about entering and playing a role in the photobook world. Speakers such as Kris Graves of Kris Graves Projects, Christina Labey and Jason Burstein of Conveyor Arts, and David La Spina and Michael Vahrenwald of ROMAN NVMERALS all spoke individually about owning and running a small, self-publishing house. All of these presenters brought examples of books they have published, as well as upcoming projects. Nelson Chan, production manager of Aperture, and João Doria of the Ventriloquist Press each touched upon the more technical side of books. They discussed printing, both in a traditional and more experimental sense, and the importance of attention to detail when it comes to producing the book itself. To conclude the day, the participants heard from Deirdre Donohue, managing research librarian of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division at the New York Public Library, and Craig Mathis, bookstore and distribution manager of Printed Matter. These two presenters rounded out the discussion about books as they spoke about distribution, and how to get one’s book into a bookstore or library. All of the presenters stressed the importance of self-published books in the evolving narrative of photography and artistry. While everyone talked about a different aspect of the photobook world, all of the presentations were connected by an inspirational and enthusiastic perspective that was refreshing to everyone involved.
The day ended with a reception in which the participants and presenters were invited to look at books and get to know one another. Participants left the workshop with new contacts, friends, and a wealth of knowledge on how to get involved in the bookmaking and self-publishing fields.