Odo Yakuza Tokyo

Last November Anton Kusters was in London to talk about his project on the Yakuza, the Japanese crime family that runs the streets of Kabukicho, the red-light district in the heart of Tokyo. He had won the 2010  Blurb Photography Book Now Editorial Prize for 893 magazine, a report on his progress on the project every six months.  I was impressed by his photography and his approach to the project, and wrote about it here on >Re-PHOTO, also linking to his blog on the project.

I’m not quite clear what the difference between a magazine and a book is – and there is a long history in photography in volumes that bridge that gap, with for example some issues of Aperture magazine have also been sold as books. But clearly Kusters saw 893 as a part of the process of which his first book, Odo Yakuza Tokyo, is a finished product. He writes about the difference here.

Like many photobooks, this is a fairly small edition, with a print run of 500 copies and is being sold through burn magazine, the web site stated by him and Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey in 2008 to encourage and support emerging photographers, and for which Kusters is creative director, as well as running his own web and interactive design agency based in Brussels.  In the interview with Kusters, published on June 17, Harvey predicts the book will sell out in 2 weeks and he is probably not far off, so if you want a copy of something that will most likely become a collector’s item, load up the web page and hit the ‘Buy Now’ button without delay.

At 50 Euros it is not a huge expense, but enough to deter me from adding it to my already too extensive collection of photography books. Although some are now relatively valuable I decided long ago I was not interested in buying books (or anything else) as an investment, but tried to limit myself to those I felt would be important working tools.  Perhaps I’m too old for this to be so. You can see 36 images from the book on the web page, and read more about the project on the web. It may well be something you want to buy, and almost certainly a good investment.

This whole project is actually one that makes me feel the photographic book is no longer as important as it was. Although Kusters would very much disagree, I think it is the magazines and web content that are actually important and the book at the end is really almost superfluous or perhaps attempting the impossible in trying to be a summation of the work, possibly ending up almost relegated to the function of a full stop at the end of a sentence. Which we could at least sometimes do without

Although I’ve not seen the book, I also get the feeling that it might for me be a little of a disappointment after the experience of seeing the photographer giving a live presentation of an incredible project. At the time I felt very strongly that it was and would make a fine audiovisual presentation, a DVD rather than print.

2 Responses to “Odo Yakuza Tokyo”

  1. ChrisL says:

    50 Euros looks fine but then it’s + 18-51 Shipping to the UK + 10-50 Tax Total 79-01.
    No doubt there will be copies available unopened as soon as it sells out, I have begun to despair over the photo-book trade.

  2. I hadn’t realised that they added so much.

    Starts to make my Blurb books look cheap at around £21 or £25 + post :-)


    But I’ve no intention of limiting any of the editions, so they they won’t increase hugely in price, at least not for a while. Still waiting for the proof copy of my latest one, ‘In Search of Atget’

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.