Monday, May 14, 2007

Help Me Decide What Book to Write

Okay, another little mind game—and for me, market research. (I just read a fascinating article about publishing that points out several times, albeit obliquely, how little the publishing industry really knows about its customers.)

Let's say you like photography (a safe assumption, since you're here) and you rather like the writings of this fellow Mike Johnston (at least a reasonable possibility, for the same reason). So now let's say you're in your favorite bookstore, in the Photography section, looking for something appealing to read. There, you would encounter only one of the following books:

Proposal No. 1: Camera Lenses. A discursive, chatty, historical / scientific / anecdotal / enthusiast appreciation of the camera lens as an object of lore, fetishism, and usefulness. Includes everything from optical aberrations described in layman's terms to how to test camera lenses by looking at pictures to reviews or appreciations of individual lenses.

Proposal No. 2: Game Theory for Photographers. A book exclusively devoted to how average-to-good photographers can get better and "improve their game." A how-to book with nothing technical in it, but lots of commonsense discussions and many exercises that are concrete and practical rather than theoretical.

Proposal No. 3: Classic 35mm Photography. A book designed to do for 35mm, black-and-white film photography what Ansel Adams's New Photography Series did for large-format black-and-white photography in the early '80s, formalizing everything about the art from cameras, to shooting technique, to darkroom practice.

Proposal No. 4: How to Choose a Digital Camera. My idiosyncratic take on what matters about cameras and how to narrow down your options to what works best for you. To get a sense of what such a book would be like, how it might read, look no further than the point-and-shoot discussions of the past several days.

So my question is, if it were entirely up to you—that is, not based on your guess as to what would sell best to others, but purely based on a selfish appraisal of what you yourself would most want to buy—which of those four books written by me would you most like to find at your bookstore?

Thanks in advance for any answers....

Note: I will eventually post all the replies but I want to hold off for a while until I get a few responses so that peoples' responses are not colored by the consensus (if there is one) in the comments. So don't worry if your comment doesn't show up right away.

Le Grand Jackpot has purchased, according to BusinessWire this morning (our link is to TMCnet, since the BusinessWire page is a popup). According to the terms, the dpreview site (the name is short for "Digital Photography Review") will continue to operate as a stand-alone, and editorial content will be unchanged, although I would presume you could look for, er, more Amazon-specific vendor links. In other news, Phil Askey and Simon Joinson will soon be driving even nicer cars.