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A question for motorbook buyers


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#1 Joe Fan

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 21:45

I am curious to know how important color photos are in motorbooks. Obviously, if the time period was before the 1950's, this would not be very important. I have seen many big publishers, publish biographies with no color photos. I have always felt that having color photos was worth the extra $5 to me as a consumer but I would like to here from others on this issue. I also feel that most motorbooks on Formula One and road racers from the 50's and 60's in general, are relatively price inelastic.

This is one of the dilemas I am faced with in publishing my Masten Gregory biography. When you are dealing with a relatively low market book, many publishers want to keep costs down so they do not include color photos. This is one of the reasons why I am going to self-publish my Masten bio as I feel that I could offer a better product and get more return for my effort but at the expense of much more work and the anxiety of writing a rather large check to a printer.

Sidenote, I have set up my own publishing company and will use the Masten bio to spring more projects in the future. So, producing a quality product is important. I am debating on going with a larger format so that I can integrate photos with text. However, a color photo section will have to be segregated in order to keep costs down as integrating black and white photos with color and text throughout a book is extremely cost-prohibitive unless you are certain that the book will sell a large number of copies. If I go to a larger format (7x10, 8x11) with a color photo secion, the book will have to be priced in the $45-50 range.

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 22:00

In a way colour is secondary to authenticity, as far as I'm concerned. I'd far rather see a contemporaneous B&W pic of a particular car or driver in a specific event mentioned in the text (be it grainy or indistinct) than a colour photo of that car posed on the gravelled driveway of some anonymous country house with a caption along the lines of "here's what it looks like today after Joe Blow rescued it from a scrapyard in Chipping Sodbury, rebuilt the chassis, completely replaced the rotted bodywork and installed a new engine" :rolleyes:

Colour can add to the enjoyment, but the deterioration of colour film and negatives can mean that you gain a false impression of the real colour. But I'm sure you know this ....

#3 dretceterini

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 22:10

I much rather have a few additional photos in a book than color. As staed previously, many photos that are 30+ years have deteriorated, and therefore, the color is off...

#4 Joe Fan

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 22:13

Originally posted by Vitesse2
In a way colour is secondary to authenticity, as far as I'm concerned. I'd far rather see a contemporaneous B&W pic of a particular car or driver in a specific event mentioned in the text (be it grainy or indistinct) than a colour photo of that car posed on the gravelled driveway of some anonymous country house with a caption along the lines of "here's what it looks like today after Joe Blow rescued it from a scrapyard in Chipping Sodbury, rebuilt the chassis, completely replaced the rotted bodywork and installed a new engine" :rolleyes:

Colour can add to the enjoyment, but the deterioration of colour film and negatives can mean that you gain a false impression of the real colour. But I'm sure you know this ....


I agree. I have seen this sort of thing before. I do feel that B&W photos are extremely important and some photos have more appeal in B&W than color. Poor quality photos (grainey, unclear, too bright, not enough contrast) are the weakness of some publishers. I will have a few of these in my book because of the quality of the photo I am working from. Some of this is be expected and sort of reflects the time period but I have purchased photo shop editing software that elminate some of these problems.

#5 Anorak Man

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 07:06

At the risk of being misjudged as snobbish, *B&W ONLY* please Joe.

Make the colour ones grayscale.

Colour is for F1 fans.

AM

Edit: Hey Joe, how did the HoF submission go? Is he in yet?

#6 marat

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 07:51

To keep on Masten Gregory, I would have bought the "Vintage Motorsport" issue contaning
the Michael Linch paper only for the photo of the white and blue Centro Sud Maserati 250 F.
I had black and white photos of that race but the colour one is really gorgeous.
I had interst for the 1961 German Gp and all the private Cooper and Lotus are very different
in colour either the Bernard Collomb car.
On the other hand I bought recently the Maurice Louche photo book on Wimille and Trintignant,
full of before unpublished photos, almost all black and white.It is vary satisfying, particularly
the Wimille part. But the BRM 57 Trintignant drove in 1964 looks better in it's pale blue colour as
the tipo 63 Maserati of the Scuderia Serenissima.
Of course the interest is only if photos were not published before...

#7 ry6

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 12:06

Joe
My feeling is that "authentic" b&w beats "posed" colour anyday.
I also like to see previously unpublished shots.

All the best with your work

Rob

#8 Steve L

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 13:03

I think good quality period colour photos can really enhance a book.

Of course, they have to be used in context and the accuracy of the written content backing them up is of paramount importance.

The same goes for period colour film. The Motorfilms Quarterly collections have had some great colour material recently, and I have also enjoyed watching the pre-war footage of Prince Bira driving his Maserati 8CM 3011 on the "Romulous Returns To Siam" tape.

I believe a lot of Bira footage has recently been acquired by the Brooklands Society or Museum and it would be great for it to be restored and released for the enthusiast to buy.

Colour really adds another dimension to enjoyment if used properly.

#9 Joe Fan

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 13:46

Originally posted by Anorak Man
Edit: Hey Joe, how did the HoF submission go? Is he in yet?


No. We were kind of late for 2003. I talked to the Executive Director of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame shortly after their announcement for the class of 2003. He told me that they get over 200 nominiations a year and the committee usually has a good idea who they are going to nominate after their July meeting. July is when I made my first trip to the Hall and that is when I asked about the nomination procedure. I was told that they had an August 1st cutoff date so I didn't think I had enough time to put a good one together. However, I was told that we could get an extention. So I decided to good ahead and put one together.

For all those who are interested, on my Masten Gregory website I have the address and information on where to send a letter in support for Masten's nomination. Click here: http://www.geocities.../mgforhall.html

It would really blow their mind if they got letters from outside of the United States. I tried to tell the Executive Director that Masten was more well known internationally than the vast majority of their inductees. However, I don't think their selection committee has enough knowledge or respect for motorsport to understand why Masten should have been inducted years ago.

#10 Udo K.

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 17:43

Michael,

I follow this thread with great interest. A friend and I are working on a project on the history of
a "well-known" German race. We are discussing the question on B/W or color photos and he
tends to include color pictures whereever possible. But, as you said, that would make the production a lot more expensive.
On the other hand, we do have many unpublished colored pictures, so why not use them?
We will end up using both, I think. But we are still in the very early stages, so its too early
to make a decision.
My personal opinion is the same as given in the above post: better unpublished B/W pictures
than color pictures at any price. I also think, that B/W pictures sometimes tell more. That's why I
always take at least one B/W film to today's race meetings, using them mainly for driver portraits.

I wish you all the best for the Gregory book and look forward to it.

Udo

#11 petefenelon

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 19:10

Originally posted by Joe Fan
I am curious to know how important color photos are in motorbooks. Obviously, if the time period was before the 1950's, this would not be very important. I have seen many big publishers, publish biographies with no color photos. I have always felt that having color photos was worth the extra $5 to me as a consumer but I would like to here from others on this issue. I also feel that most motorbooks on Formula One and road racers from the 50's and 60's in general, are relatively price inelastic.


I tend to buy most books first and foremost for the text. Good photography, intelligently used and well laid out, is a bonus. (Obviously if it's something like a Schlegelmilch photo book things are a little different).

If there are only a few pics I prefer them in a separate section, but if there's more than one per couple of pages I prefer them interspersed in the text. As for colour vs b/w - well, I'm not a modeller, so accurate colour repro isn't terribly important to me. Good crisp B/W is perfectly fine!

It seems that mainstream racing books in the UK are usually in the 18-40 pound range these days - at least, anything that's not from Palawan Press. (DCN is of course entitled to twice that for BRM vol 2, then again I have high expectations ;)) Seems that a typical book on contemporary F1 is generally pitched at under 20, and specialist stuff somewhere between 25 and 35 quid depending on size, obscurity, publisher and layout.

Of course, for anything on "obscure" topics (and I guess Masten would count as such here) the market's odd - it'll bear whatever the reader's willing to pay.

(I've so far resisted paying more than 80 quid for anything, I'm dreading my first hundred quid book...)

pete

#12 Joe Fan

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 20:04

Originally posted by petefenelon


Seems that a typical book on contemporary F1 is generally pitched at under 20, and specialist stuff somewhere between 25 and 35 quid depending on size, obscurity, publisher and layout.

pete


This is due to the fact that the market is bigger for contempary F1 titles and the research is much easier (not to mention that photos are probably cheaper too because if you know you are going to write a biography on a current driver, you can take some of your own photos). At a lower price, the consumer will morely like purchase the book. So, the publisher hopes to capture a larger percentage of the market with a lower price. With a specialized smaller market book, you have to make back your money on a smaller target market. Hence the reason for the higher price. I would rather spend $50 on one specialized book than the same amount of money for two contemporary titles. You see a lot of biographies and autobiographies on Michael Schumacher, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, etc. I almost never buy these books as I would rather wait until after their career for the complete story of their life.

Thanks Udo! :wave:

#13 petefenelon

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 20:37

Originally posted by Joe Fan

I would rather spend $50 on one specialized book than the same amount of money for two contemporary titles. You see a lot of biographies and autobiographies on Michael Schumacher, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, etc. I almost never buy these books as I would rather wait until after their career for the complete story of their life.


Thanks Udo! :wave:


Likewise. I generally don't buy biographies of drivers still active - and I avoid the quickie cash-in books that cover very short periods of history (the Christopher Hilton/Alan Henry production line).

Actually, Autocourse apart, I very rarely buy anything to do woth contemporary F1.

#14 Joe Fan

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 09:28

One of the things I have noticed, that maybe others have too, is with these books that have photo inserts. Many times I see a really great picture that has been crammed onto one page with a couple of so-so pictures. Personally I would rather have that one great picture take up the whole page to get a bigger version of it even if it meant losing the space for the other two pics. I figure that whoever got the picture in a lot for free for the purchase of a large amount of photos and felt the need to use it. Sometimes quantity is not as good as quality.

#15 uechtel

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 09:50

To me a good collection of pictures is as valuable for a book as the text. indeed i have already bought some French books only because of the pictures (do not speak Frenach at all!).

What I like at pictures is, that they generally reveal the truth about certain happenings better than any second hand text (disregarding manipulated propaganda pics of course). Therefore I prefer any rare black and white picture of the past very much to any new brilliance high-resolution colour shot taken at museums or classic car events. Of course it is a different thing with OLD colour pictures!

#16 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 03:54

Originally posted by Joe Fan
One of the things I have noticed, that maybe others have too, is with these books that have photo inserts. Many times I see a really great picture that has been crammed onto one page with a couple of so-so pictures. Personally I would rather have that one great picture take up the whole page to get a bigger version of it even if it meant losing the space for the other two pics. I figure that whoever got the picture in a lot for free for the purchase of a large amount of photos and felt the need to use it. Sometimes quantity is not as good as quality.

One picture per page is great but when a picture is enlarged to span across two pages, the crease down the middle breaks up the picture often spoiling it. I'm sure it looks good when they are laying out the book in the design office; in the finished product it's a different story. Be careful if you find yourself thinking of doing this.

#17 corsaresearch

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 22:21

Personally, I think period colour photographs are great and not so expensive to print these days. True, to find good quality period colour is difficult. In the 50s and even in the 60s, most magazines still published in B/W so professional photographers didn't bother to use expensive colour film. That was mostly used by amateurs, and if they could afford they bought the high quality Kodachrome which doesn't fade at all.

Joe, I'm in the process of publishing my second book - I do all myself, even the distributing work.
But as far as I know today, to print few colour images spread over the book isn't that expensive anymore.
And there are different ways to do this.

Yet, I have absolutely no interest in books filled with new made photographs. It is the old stuff that gives the real atmosphere.

I have quite some old negatives and slides (Kodachrome 35mm and Ektachrome 6x6) and with all today's computer possibilies, colours can be corrected. I have some nice B/W and one colour image of Masten Gregory - let me know if you are interested and I'm sure we can work something out.

#18 Lemans

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 22:48

I like color photos if they are done well; otherwise, b/w is best. But as mentioned, I buy motorsports books for information not the pictures. Joe, I wait the book as I am interested in the story. Hope you finish it soon. :)

#19 Kpy

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Posted 26 February 2003 - 00:03

Anyone who has Jesse Alexander's book "Driven" will know that quality B&W photos of your chosen era beat colour hands down.
Good luck with the book Joe, and keep trying 'till you get Masten in that HoF!!

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#20 Anorak Man

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 05:25

Originally posted by Joe Fan


No. We were kind of late for 2003. I talked to the Executive Director of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame shortly after their announcement for the class of 2003. He told me that they get over 200 nominiations a year and the committee usually has a good idea who they are going to nominate after their July meeting. July is when I made my first trip to the Hall and that is when I asked about the nomination procedure. I was told that they had an August 1st cutoff date so I didn't think I had enough time to put a good one together. However, I was told that we could get an extention. So I decided to good ahead and put one together.

For all those who are interested, on my Masten Gregory website I have the address and information on where to send a letter in support for Masten's nomination. Click here: http://www.geocities.../mgforhall.html

It would really blow their mind if they got letters from outside of the United States. I tried to tell the Executive Director that Masten was more well known internationally than the vast majority of their inductees. However, I don't think their selection committee has enough knowledge or respect for motorsport to understand why Masten should have been inducted years ago.


Smashing site Joe!

I've got the HoF address and they will be hearing from me, Mate (In Asia!)

AM

Edit: I didn't know MG partnered Jochen Rindt, and took the 65 Le Mans 24 hour pot home. I've got to ask Joe, who qualified the Ferrari quickest?

#21 Joe Fan

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 08:53

:wave: Thanks all!

corsaresearch, I have already planned to buy a large percentage of my photos from Doug and Karl because they have both helped me out along the way with this project. However, I will have to augment what they don't have from others. It looks like my greatest need for photos will be for SCCA races in the U.S. in 1953. After I see what they will be able to provide, I will go searching for others I need. If you have any really great or unusual photos of Masten (closeups, shots with celebs, etc.), email me.


Anorak Man, I am not sure who was the faster driver between Masten and Jochen at Le Mans that year. I have numerous race reports for the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hour race but none of them mention who posted the fastest time. This is more than likey due to the fact that the Chinetti Ferrari 250LM was not a frontrunner and they were not expected to win. Both drivers were extremely fast drivers so it wouldn't surprise me if Rindt was faster. Rindt, like Masten, liked to drive flatout (both were criticized as being car crashers) and nobody thought they would finish the race. This brings me to another sore subject, Masten labeled as a car crasher. Masten was involved in 16 accidents that resulted to a DNF or DNS during his 20 year career, with about half being due to driver error. He competed in 235 races (245 if heats count as races) and practiced or attempted to qualify for at least 240 events. Even if all his crashes were due to driver error, his accident rate would work out to one crash per season on the current F1 schedule of 16 races. And Masten never crashed out of a F1 World Championship GP, almost all of his crashes were in sports cars. Masten said sports cars were more difficult to drive (heavier, didn't break as well) than Grand Prix cars. It is hard to find a real good comparison on driver accident proneness (is this a word?) but I do know that Graham Hill was involved in 10 accidents which resulted in a DNF and had 3 "spun offs' in his 179 F1 World Championship GP participations. Yet, you never hear Graham badmouthed as a car crasher.

Thanks for the compliments on my site and for sending the MO Hall of Fame a letter. :up:

#22 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 12:34

Originally posted by Anorak Man
Edit: I didn't know MG partnered Jochen Rindt, and took the 65 Le Mans 24 hour pot home.

Did you know that there may have been a third driver? One of the most fascinating mysteries on TNF:

http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=21211

#23 Anorak Man

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 03:02

Originally posted by Seppi_0_917PA

Did you know that there may have been a third driver? One of the most fascinating mysteries on TNF:

http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=21211

Thanks for alerting me to the '65 LM thread, fascinating stuff.

We will all have to buy Our Joe's book to find out if Ed Hugus is really Ed Bogus eh?
If he isn't, you better get a good lawyer Joe!

Well, I searched for quite a while but couldn't dig out who was the quicker of the two in the NART 250LM, Masten or Jochen.
I'd really like to know. I understand Jochen only got a brief practice, and their lap time was 3:45 for 11th place on the grid.
Masten would only have been 33, and much more experienced than the young Austrian, so perhaps MG was quickest.

Gregory must've derived great satisfaction from this amazing victory, having lost out to Amon et al in the grab for the GT40 seats.
Imagine his delight at watching them expire like Greenbottles hanging on a wall, as he climbed the leader board.

AM