Friday, 4 September 2015

POV: The First Step : The Hầu Đồng Book


My first step in the long process of publishing "Hầu Đồng: The Spirit Mediums of Viet Nam" photo book was completed today when I took delivery of an 8x10 inches 12 page hardcover test version produced by AdoramaPix's bookmaking outfit.

My principal objectives in ordering a test version was to (1) determine the color -and monochrome reproduction quality for the chosen sampling of my photographs, and (2) whether the bindery style was acceptable. I have already self-published a couple of photography books through Blurb, so I know what to expect from them, but I wanted to find out if AdoramaPix was a viable alternative.


By the way, the iPhone pictures of the test book seen here were done without any preparation, so I wouldn't place too much weight on what these look like to my blog's readers.

The photographs are printed on professional-grade photo paper by Adorama. I chose the Luster paper option for its popularity, lower price and because it's a hybrid of gloss and matte, which supposedly handles a wide spectrum of image types and brings out the best in them all.

I liked the result. The book's pages are heavy; there's obviously a real photo feel to them, and they reproduced the colors very well. I am especially pleased with the 2 black & white pages. The text's placement needs a little tweaking, but overall the effect met my expectations.


One of the features offered by AdormaPix is the lay-flat construction. The book remains open and on display without anything to keep it from flopping over. Seamless lay-flat simply allows the readers to view the entire image...whether the image is a double-truck (as they call it) or are two side by side. There are no gutters or seams.

Now whether the lay-flat construction is sturdy enough to withstand many page flipping or not, I cannot tell. I compared it to a traditionally bound (stitched and non lay-flat) photo book, and it did appear flimsy. If -through usage- one or more of the photo pages may get detached from the rest, the lay-flat feature is worthless...so the jury is out of that one.

The production of this 12 pages book was super fast. It was available for pick up in just two business days.

What didn't I like? I was slightly disappointed in the cover. The color reproduction is perfect, but the title is not exactly perpendicular. It seems to have been been affixed minutely off-center. I noticed it because I have a thing about straight lines.

Price-wise, the test book cost $30. One can calculate this as being $2.50 a page not taking into account the cover. It's for the 8x10 inch landscape option. For a more impressive 10x12.5 inches (which would be my choice), the price for a 80-100 page book jumps to a prohibitive $210-$260!

Setting all this aside, I'm glad I tried out the AdoramaPix option. It might be a viable option for a one of a kind photographic portfolio to showcase one's photographs...a sort of monograph perhaps, but not as a commercially viable  photo book.


So it's back to exploring the Print On Demand route. I've had experience with Blurb before, and it was generally quite satisfactory. I tentatively discussed having the eventual "Hầu Đồng: The Spirit Mediums of Viet Nam" photo book printed in Hanoi, but there might be tax and other issues that can crop up... but I'll revive that option when I'm there next month.