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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Getting started on thinning the herd
Old 11-28-2015   #1
farlymac
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Getting started on thinning the herd

Today, I gave away my golf clubs.

Now, that might not sound like something that has anything to do with photography, but it has a lot to do with my habit of hanging on to camera gear I hardly ever use.

I'm a gear head at heart, so I built that set of clubs up like I would a camera kit. Metal woods, a couple of hybrids, and some nice irons (even a left handed one for those odd moments). Covers for everything, good cleats and glove, and a nice case to carry it all.

Like my Nikon F100 kit with the Tamron AF zooms, it was a mix of brands, nothing cheap, but not extravagantly priced either. Quite a bit of it was bought on sale too, say at the end of the season, or when the stores were clearing out last years models.

But I haven't golfed in well over five years. I kept telling myself to give it another go, but my body is not hearing it. The final straw was the diagnosis of a degenerative back disease that is genetic in nature, and will not get better. I was hoping to find someone to give them to, but like anything else that is custom tailored to the owner, there were no takers. So I hauled them down to the Salvation Army. I gave my neighbor below me all the new sleeves of balls I had, and a box of used ones that my Dad had collected whenever he went golfing (always coming back with more than he left with) to another neighbor down the hill. It all seems pretty strange though, seeing as we live on a former golf course that's been turned into condo city.

It felt good to finally put that all behind me. I'm inspired now to start cleaning out the excess camera gear. Get back to basics in 35mm, with one main shooting brand, and one or two sentimental favorites to fool around with every so often. I'll still have something in more than one format (not giving up the Rolleiflex or rangefinders).

Likely, I'll be winding down the repair end too, finish up a couple of projects, and forget the rest.

It will be interesting to see how I handle it all. But I keep asking myself, why did I need to accumulate so much stuff? Curiosity got the best of me I suppose. Trying out all the camera systems I couldn't afford when they were new. And too much time on my hands.

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Old 11-28-2015   #2
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I gotta get around to this one of these days.
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Old 11-28-2015   #3
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I've done a bit of this. Recently got rid of the minolta, topcon, Miranda, exacta, some Nikon SLRs, and a yashica electro.
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Old 11-28-2015   #4
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Golf clubs ans Nikon F = martian water. To me.
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Old 11-29-2015   #5
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Very interesting - I´m close to this point.
I feel that my collection is getting to big for me and so even my creativity get lost when playing with to much cameras.
Cut down to one system in 35 or 120 is something in my mind too, but I ain't sure what to keep and what should go.
My heart is with the Voigtländer Bessamatic, but I love my Nikon FM2n too and Canon FD was the one where all started with.
120 - keep the P6 or one of the Voigtländer folder (Avus + Bergheil) or just keep the newly acquired Graflex Speed Graphic Pacemaker 4x5" for all over 35mm.
I just know that I need a big cut, but didn't find the right ax ;-)
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Old 11-29-2015   #6
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It's fun to play with different systems and lenses, but too much choice can divert one's attention from anything - including making pictures - IMHO. 'Decision block' is real

Congratulations on making a start. I'm guessing the real test will be, can you resist building up another collection!
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Old 11-29-2015   #7
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I used to be like this. But many years ago, I realized that I simply did not want to be a camera collector. Now, I am slimmed down to two cameras and just a handful of lenses. I can always use more lenses, but buying more cameras- never. The only way I will buy another camera is to sell one of mine first to help finance the cost.

I am not sentimental about my camera gear.
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Old 11-29-2015   #8
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I feel this is a period in life to go through. I also enjoyed long period of buying, repairing, trying and comparing. After this ends there's another challenge - keep motivation and curiosity to take pictures at all, find new driver in place of previous "I'll see how this camera works and feels like" - at least, for me.

What is really liberating - not feeling urge to score through heaps of listings, camera boxes and lens piles.

At the same time I admit period of ever changing gear has trained me to detect advantages and limitations of gear, and pick optimal tool for certain occasions. It was fun time, I've tried bunch of stuff I have never heard as a kid, not even being able to afford, now I enjoy fact I'm able to change.
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Old 11-29-2015   #9
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I have periodic thoughts about this, and even make (half-hearted) attempts at it, but thus far at least I'm accumulating more than I'm thinning.

Part of it is that the mechanical tinkering with broken cameras is a sort of meditation or therapy for me, especially going into the winter. I like to have a few projects lined up to work on while the weather is miserable, which inevitably leads to me ending up with a few more cameras. I sell some, but the net is always positive.

I've basically divided my cameras into working cameras and playing cameras. If I'm going out to do some semi-serious photography (all-day street expedition, some other specific project), I use the working cameras; the playing cameras (many of them cameras given to me as gifts by family) get pulled out once or twice a year for walking around or bag duty.

I don't really have any desire to be a collector in the traditional sense, but I know it's not realistic for me to pare down to just one or two. So, I simply accept the accumulation, try to manage it, and keep shooting.
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Old 11-29-2015   #10
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My friends now ask me when we go shooting "What camera will you be using today?", knowing that I have several cameras and camera systems.

I have one friend who keeps pointing out to me how much simpler life would be if I didn't have to make so many decisions each time I go out shooting!

I'm getting to the point where I think he's right :-)

Good for you for finally being able to let go of your material possessions. I need to do that, too.
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Old 11-29-2015   #11
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I like finding unexpected things to motivate me. After several years enjoying and learning more about rangefinders at considerable expense, I have rediscovered SLR's at no cost because of what I have sitting around or been given. It's the Celtic chaos gene I think. So I won't thin out the collection yet.
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Old 11-29-2015   #12
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l do not have to much in the way of camera gear........as for fishing well thats another story
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Old 11-29-2015   #13
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I am still enjoying having lots of options for choosing which camera gear to use. No thinning the her at my hend. It is more about "better feeding the herd" by carefully adding once in a while a new lens ....
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Old 11-29-2015   #14
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I still have plenty of options, just got rid of some not being used. Nikon is my 35mm SLR system, but I've got some classic cameras in Canon, Contax, and Pentax mount. Then there is the ltm/M mount cameras and lenses, medium format SLR, tlr, and RF cameras, and a 4x5. Also Fuji digital. I'm good.
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I Used to Think I was Indecisive But Now I'm not Sure
Old 11-29-2015   #15
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I Used to Think I was Indecisive But Now I'm not Sure

[quote=lynnb;2556293]It's fun to play with different systems and lenses, but too much choice can divert one's attention from anything - including making pictures - IMHO. 'Decision block' is real
I hear you, Lynn.
It's especially dangerous/vexing with digital.
Before that all 35mm cameras operated pretty much the same...if you knew how to operate a Minolta 101 you could just pick up a Nikon F, Pentax Spotmatic or Canon FT and use it.

Today I am struggling with the Fuji and Sony digital systems.
I recently was frozen to inaction 'cause after a couple of months of using just the Fuji I couldn't remember how to format the SD card in the Sony. Wasted 15 minutes scrolling through the *%$^** menus.
"Aha!, there it is!"
Fortunately, Sasquatch did not come strolling by in the interim.

There have been other, similar menu-brain freeze occurrences (almost always with the Sony)
For efficiency's sake I know I should settle on ONE system...OTOH, they both have their own virtues, virtues so compelling that I have yet to act.
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Old 11-29-2015   #16
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I'll wait for all of them in the classifieds
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Old 11-29-2015   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
...Curiosity got the best of me I suppose....

PF
If you didn't go broke on this venture, I do not see a downside.

Curiosity is the spark that leads to learning. Learning new things is a great pastime and is personally rewarding. Sharing your knowledge benefits others.

I too have more cameras and lenses than I will ever wear out this lifetime, in several brands and formats, plus I have more film than I can use in a year. But it is nice to have an answer for someone struggling with, or curious about, a bit of equipment or media. Having the item at hand makes it so much easier to give the correct answer - I can look at it while composing the answer.

Perhaps before you let each item go, write up what you know and have learned about the item. Take pictures. Collect those writings and images and put it all on a web site?

Don't let everything you know be lost, with the mistaken assumption that nobody cares. There's lots of curious people out here.
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Old 11-29-2015   #18
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As I said in another thread yesterday or so, I have reached the age that I think if I start giving stuff away at the same rate I acquired it, if I die on the schedule my family traditionally follows, I'll leave a clean estate, so I've started to de-accession. But I haven't gotten to camera gear yet. I'm starting with things in the attic, or buried under piles, that I never use but have been holding on to anyway.

Along the way I have discovered something interesting. Remember how they said book megastores would kill publishing because they'd only stock what people wanted to buy, nothing obscure? What I found at the time was that any store that was 6X the size of the supposedly-endangered local book store was more likely, not less, to have books I wanted. Now Amazon has everything I want, used if not new. However, all those obscure but important books that I gradually found over the years: the supposed saviors of the book culture, the small used book stores. . . they don't want my obscure books any more than their new book small store predecessors did--they won't even take them if I give them to them. All they want is best sellers in each category--the rest go in the trash. Think of that the next time you curse Amazon's business model. /rant
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Old 11-29-2015   #19
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Quote:
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I'm already there... One film camera , two lenses
in the Coming Year I will Add a digital M or the Xpro2 and stick with it... Just not sure which one
MM, there is only one...
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Old 11-29-2015   #20
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I don't have nearly the camera's you have Phil but I stopped acquiring long ago. to me I found it was a distraction from why I got back into photography in the 1st place. I keep contemplating selling off the Bessa gear & CV lenses but will probably keep them. I really don't have that much anyhow.

At the moment I have gone back to using my Canon FD system shooting B&W & enjoying it. My C-41 color film has me depressed in trying to figure what to do with it. Almost all my local options for getting it developed have diminished. The few places that are left want an arm & a leg just for developing the film. I have 3 rolls waiting for developing & am contemplating on throwing it all in the trash because the photo's I doubt are any good. Just start out fresh, I say to myself. Buy a color C-41 kit & do it myself.

Then there is the money factor of my hours at work being cut so to do that I need to sell off a camera. It's just a roller coaster of feelings that's been going thru my mind lately. I feel better just getting it out here.
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Old 11-29-2015   #21
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all my gear fits into one camera bag…kinda ironic eh?
i am actually purging in all areas…clothes i don't wear, shoes…stuff of all kinds…i have gone through the basement twice in the past year or so…an still more stuff to go.
i hope to move into a smaller place in the future..i now live in a 3 bedroom condo and there is only myself and the dog! i want less space to fill and clean...
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Old 11-29-2015   #22
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My C-41 color film has me depressed in trying to figure what to do with it. Almost all my local options for getting it developed have diminished. The few places that are left want an arm & a leg just for developing the film. I have 3 rolls waiting for developing & am contemplating on throwing it all in the trash because the photo's I doubt are any good. Just start out fresh, I say to myself. Buy a color C-41 kit & do it myself.

C-41 is easy enough to do yourself, but there is always millerslab.com. $4.10 for development of 36 exposures ($2.05 for 24) and free return shipping by fedex (min $15 order, so 4 rolls and you're there.)
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Old 11-29-2015   #23
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Quote:
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It's fun to play with different systems and lenses, but too much choice can divert one's attention from anything - including making pictures - IMHO. 'Decision block' is real

Congratulations on making a start. I'm guessing the real test will be, can you resist building up another collection!
Well, Lynn, I did sell off another collection a little over ten years ago, but under different circumstances. Then I needed survival money. Most of those were collectibles instead of users, so this time it will be harder to let some go because of the work I put into acquiring, and sometimes repairing them for use.

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Old 11-29-2015   #24
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I'll wait for all of them in the classifieds
It will be quite a listing, Nathan, to be sure.

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Old 11-29-2015   #25
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Quote:
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If you didn't go broke on this venture, I do not see a downside.

Curiosity is the spark that leads to learning. Learning new things is a great pastime and is personally rewarding. Sharing your knowledge benefits others.

I too have more cameras and lenses than I will ever wear out this lifetime, in several brands and formats, plus I have more film than I can use in a year. But it is nice to have an answer for someone struggling with, or curious about, a bit of equipment or media. Having the item at hand makes it so much easier to give the correct answer - I can look at it while composing the answer.

Perhaps before you let each item go, write up what you know and have learned about the item. Take pictures. Collect those writings and images and put it all on a web site?

Don't let everything you know be lost, with the mistaken assumption that nobody cares. There's lots of curious people out here.
You could always peruse my Flickr album pages. Lots of camera tests, and repair info there. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums

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Old 11-29-2015   #26
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all my gear fits into one camera bag…kinda ironic eh?
i am actually purging in all areas…clothes i don't wear, shoes…stuff of all kinds…i have gone through the basement twice in the past year or so…an still more stuff to go.
i hope to move into a smaller place in the future..i now live in a 3 bedroom condo and there is only myself and the dog! i want less space to fill and clean...
Yeah, I've come to the realization, Joe, that I don't need to hang onto all the work gear, and information that I needed on a daily basis when I was still employed. And I've accumulated a lot of stuff of a personal nature that no one would care about anymore.

And papers. I always had to make a duplicate of each and every document I signed at work, so I would be covered whenever the company tried to pull a fast one. That can all be recycled now.

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Old 11-29-2015   #27
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I have already gone through the purging, down to one camera that sees proper use (Leica M3 with a 50 collapsible) and have a pocket Ricoh GR1s for weekdays plus a Rolleiflex when i want MF.

So liberating not needing to think about what to take!
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Old 11-30-2015   #28
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Hi,

I'll offer a little advice as I've been there and have the scars...

Make a database or spreadsheet listing of what you find as you go and, with things like cheap to buy P&S's, the last three numbers of the S/N. If you're like me you'll be amazed at what you've got and forgotten. And at what you've duplicated. That's where the S/N's come in handy, as you discover the 12th Olympus XA2...

As for filters, the best way to get rid of them all (especially the 49mm ones) is to slip a couple into the parcel as you sell off the cameras and so that you can pack them safely for the post, start looking at prices and delivery times for Chinese lens caps.

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And so it begins
Old 12-02-2015   #29
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And so it begins

I decided that the first camera I should get rid of would be the one that I would like to part with the least. Getting that out of the way will make the rest easier. It also frees up my Original Domke bag for the Nikons.

These went to the Camera Heritage Museum in Staunton, VA

Lordomat Grouping by P F McFarland, on Flickr

Dave was very pleased to receive them.

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Old 12-02-2015   #30
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As I said in another thread yesterday or so, I have reached the age that I think if I start giving stuff away at the same rate I acquired it, if I die on the schedule my family traditionally follows, I'll leave a clean estate, so I've started to de-accession. But I haven't gotten to camera gear yet. I'm starting with things in the attic, or buried under piles, that I never use but have been holding on to anyway.

Along the way I have discovered something interesting. Remember how they said book megastores would kill publishing because they'd only stock what people wanted to buy, nothing obscure? What I found at the time was that any store that was 6X the size of the supposedly-endangered local book store was more likely, not less, to have books I wanted. Now Amazon has everything I want, used if not new. However, all those obscure but important books that I gradually found over the years: the supposed saviors of the book culture, the small used book stores. . . they don't want my obscure books any more than their new book small store predecessors did--they won't even take them if I give them to them. All they want is best sellers in each category--the rest go in the trash. Think of that the next time you curse Amazon's business model. /rant
As somebody whose entire career has been sustained by the enthusiasm of independent booksellers, I can say with confidence that this argument is rather myopic. I admire Amazon's innovations in book tech and retail efficiency, but their ruthless undercutting of the publishers' pricing model is extremely destructive. They sell books below cost as loss leaders, making competition in book retailing nearly impossible. They are running a new kind of monopoly, fueled by stock prices completely divorced from profits. And midlist writers like me can't make a living from our work anymore.

I'm not complaining exactly; money isn't why I got into the business. But I do wish that my government would lend a hand to my centuries-old artisanal trade in its meager efforts to prevent a consumer electronics retailer from burning it down to the ground.
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Old 12-02-2015   #31
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I find limiting yourself extremely liberating and it forces you to be creative. My perfect setup is one camera, two lenses (wide angle and modest tele) and a compact flash. Think Cartier-Bresson.

Google "decision fatigue" and you will find that some of the most creative persons deliberately limit themselves. Einstein had one suit, Steve Jobs only wore turtlenecks, Mark Zuckerberg only wears gray hoodies and a jeans, Elan Musk only has one style of suit and one style of shirt (meaning he probably has a dozen of the same). President Obama recently said that making decisions starts the minute you get up, decide what to wear, what watch, what cologne, what pair of shoes. By the time many people leave the house, decision fatigue has already set in, which limits the number of creative decisions you can make for the rest of the day.

Less is more.
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Old 12-02-2015   #32
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Quote:
As somebody whose entire career has been sustained by the enthusiasm of independent booksellers, I can say with confidence that this argument is rather myopic. I admire Amazon's innovations in book tech and retail efficiency, but their ruthless undercutting of the publishers' pricing model is extremely destructive. They sell books below cost as loss leaders, making competition in book retailing nearly impossible. They are running a new kind of monopoly, fueled by stock prices completely divorced from profits. And midlist writers like me can't make a living from our work anymore.

I'm not complaining exactly; money isn't why I got into the business. But I do wish that my government would lend a hand to my centuries-old artisanal trade in its meager efforts to prevent a consumer electronics retailer from burning it down to the ground.
Book business is in the dumpster..has been for a long time..
Started out w/Amazon killing most if not all the lil mom and pop bookstores..as well as the big uns..Borders etc..and publishers..
Then came 9/11..and the Wall St banking disaster..further eroding the retail book market..
Then people..pretty much..just stopped reading books..and went to the internet and their cell phones..
As a self published book author..as well as a retail book and gift store owner for the past 22 years..I saw it all go down the tubes..for good..
But at least we have the internet and e-books now..and cheap self publishing..still can sort of make a little dough here and there..thru book sales online..and in the shop..
But its real, real tough..
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Old 12-03-2015   #33
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Book business is in the dumpster..has been for a long time..
Started out w/Amazon killing most if not all the lil mom and pop bookstores..as well as the big uns..Borders etc..and publishers..
Then came 9/11..and the Wall St banking disaster..further eroding the retail book market..
Then people..pretty much..just stopped reading books..and went to the internet and their cell phones..
As a self published book author..as well as a retail book and gift store owner for the past 22 years..I saw it all go down the tubes..for good..
But at least we have the internet and e-books now..and cheap self publishing..still can sort of make a little dough here and there..thru book sales online..and in the shop..
But its real, real tough..
I'm not quite as pessimistic as you are—I do think these changes have created more space for independent publishers, who are willing to publish more challenging and unusual books—but yeah, my days of being able to count on writing income are over. I'm lucky to have a good day job in academia, though.
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Old 12-03-2015   #34
farlymac
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How did this thread turn into an argument about bookstores?

PF
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Old 12-03-2015   #35
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OK—I just did the same thing you did, got rid of everything but one brand! And it is indeed a relief.
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Old 12-03-2015   #36
David Hughes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
How did this thread turn into an argument about bookstores?

PF
It's RFF...

Regards, David
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