20 + 20 Contemporary Chinese Photobooks
Jiazazhi is a publisher and photobook platform based in Ningbo founded by Yuan Di. Over the last couple it years it has become a cornerstone of Chinese contemporary photobook publishing with many successful titles on its record. Ask a young photographer in China what would be on their bucket-list in their photography career and you will find publishing a book with Jiazazhi on top. In this section we are glad to present a selection of 20 of the best photobooks published by this unique publishing house.
It all started in 2007 with a blog titled “Jia” (fake) “Zazhi” (Magazine). Yuan Di used it to describe the feeling towards a digital platform that was somehow not quite real. After working for photography magazines like O2 and Outlook Magazine Yuan Di started off publishing photobooks by helping his friend and photographer Sun Yanchu. In 2011 he helped him to make an offset publication from his dummy. Using platforms like Weibo to promote and Taboo to sell, the book actually sold out within a few months. He decided to continue his dream to become a publisher and started the Jiazazhi Photobook Library in his hometown Ningbo. The space has become the heart of the organisation with the studio, library, small exhibition space and bookstore all in one. Well known titles include Zhang Kechun’s “The Yellow River”, Chen Zhe’s “Bees & the Bearable” and Feng Li’s “White Night”.
The contemporary photobook market in China is still relatively small and the amount of buyers is limited. In recent years however, there is a continuing interest in the photobook medium both from photographers, publishers and book festivals are popping up within China’s art museums. New collaborations are rising and slowly push the printed results to higher levels. This trend was already pointed out in the publication of “The Chinese Photobook, From the 1900s to the Present” (2015) and continues in the present. Last year we saw the first Chinese winner “The Eight Day” by Gao Shan published by Chinese publisher Imageless at the prestigious Paris Photo photobook award. It is a common misunderstanding that in the digital age, just like the news media, the photobook is dying a slow death. Business models are changing but with a rising interest in good photography projects, the printed book is alive more than ever before. In this section we are glad to present a selection of 20 of the best photobooks published in recent years.