24/10 - 10/11/2012

Contretype celebrates the first ten years of "Le caillou bleu" with an exhibition of the work of photographers (*) published by the publishing house.

Photo: Fabrice Wagner

The Brussels publishing house “Le Caillou bleu” was founded ten years ago this year. In its first 10 years, it has published 25 photographic art books, and it will publish another four new titles by the end of 2012 (**).

It has taken nearly a decade for the company to find stable representatives in the two largest national markets for art books (the USA and Japan), and, nevertheless, the long-term future for such “niche” publishing activity remains very precarious.

For in today’s market, small publishers have to pay a very high price to gain visibility in the mass market, sometimes sacrificing all their profits to obtain it. The current depressed state of the book market has seen a doubling in the numbers of returns from wholesalers and retailers in the last three years. The financing of art-book publishing has become such a high-risk activity that it today resembles artistic patronage.

Photo: Patrick Taberna

The "W project" as a sort of alternative

A new project began at the publishing house this year. Its objective was to find new solutions and approaches to the ever-increasing demand for publication from photographers, while building an economically more stable publishing activity.

Without setting off in the opposite direction to the main distribution channels of the publishing world, the project sought to take part in, and benefit from, the aspirations of the new business models emerging from recent developments in new technologies and social media.

A central web platform was set up to develop three main activities:

1- Distribution of artists’ books, with or without sales (via websites and specialised book fairs).
2- Publication of books with limited print-runs based on prepaid subscriptions by individual customers.
3- Systematic use of videos to promote books.

The W project will be presented in the “Bathroom” at Contretype, and will feature works by Julie Scheurweghs, Pierre Liebaert, Thibaut Janssens, Sébastien van Malleghem and Laëtitia Jeurissens.

(*) Jacky Lecouturier, Elina Brotherus, Claudine Doury, Christophe Bourgeois, Jean-Luc A. Fournier, André Cepeda, Philippe Herbet, Satoru Toma, Beata Szparagowska, Amaury da Cunha, Patrick Taberna, Stefan Vanthuyne, Thomas Chable.

(**) "Après tout" by Amaury da Cunha, "Salomé" by Thomas Chable, "Le goût des mandarines" by Patrick Taberna, "Remember the White Horses" by Stefan Vanthuyne.

Julie Scheurweghs project

Le Caillou bleu Website: www.cailloubleu.com