Stuart Smith (GOST Books) – Magnum Photos

Stuart Smith is a co-director of GOST books with Gordon McDonald. Stuart has been designing books since 1996 ands has been involved in publishing over 800 books including many of Mark Powers books.

Stuart provided the group with his insights in the photobook publishing process. He feels that design should be simple. It is important for the photographer to develop a relationship as they will spend a lot of time together during the creative process. When embarking on a publication Stuart likes to look at the larger book edit to understand what images were part of the larger edit but the photographer decided to exclude plus he is interested to see additional material that is available and might be incorporated into the book and potentially allow the book to appeal to other audiences. GOST book has a small team of 4 who cover different aspects of the publication process.

Stuart suggested that a good book should start strong and end strong, sometimes less is more. Book size and type of print are important elements of the overall design as these elements help enrich the story being told by the book. He has a clear view that consistent design and simple style are important factors in a successful book. Do not submit bad images as potentially those images might make it into the book.

If you are going to print double page full bleed images it is important to realise that the image will loose 3mm in true page gutter which can influence image selection. When putting images on opposite page ensure horizons across the pages match to avoid the images jarring. There are many different formats that can be considered for the book 6×4.5, 3×2 etc.

Artist statements in photobook should be short and focused. If more text is required it is worth considering using writers to create the required text.

To get the best quality books offset printing is still the best option. There are many different paper types that can be used but broadly the fall into a few types: Gloss, Matte and uncharted.

Photobooks is a niche market so quality photography is key to a successful book.

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