A lot of small, independent bookstores that deal in out-of-print and rare books (in addition to current publications) are closing shop thanks to higher rents they can't justify, and competition from large chain stores. But I'm a photographer, illiterate to the core. And I didn't care until recently.
However, now, A Photographers Place, a bookstore handling only photo books, is going out of business, and I'm mad as hell. Photo books seem to go out of print the minute the first printing is sold. A book I would love to have can be out of print before I even know I want it. A second copy of a book, that I have worn out from handling, can be impossible to locate. A photo book can be three years old and already rare and collectable. Harvey Zucker and A Photographer's Place were always there to rescue me. And, in the process, I got to browse through all the new photobooks that weren't on the shelf at the chain stores.
For those who were doing more than looking for a copy of a friend's book, which had apparently sold out all the hardcovers in the first month of release, Harvey had things as diverse as a complete library of out of print books on the daguerreotype, or a copy of the very limited edition of facsimile prints from the Gilman Collection. There were only 1500 copies of the Gilman book printed. The entire print run was sold out. The book is remarkable for its engraving and printing alone. And since the Gilman Collection is, from my point of view, one of the two great photo collections in this country, the snaps aren't bad either. I had heard of the book, never seen it. When Harvey showed it to me, (1) I realized no description would do it justice, and (2) since it has facsimile reproductions of some very large prints, it was the only coffee-table book I had ever seen that was bigger than the coffee table.
After twenty some years, the shop at 133 Mercer Street in New York City will close in the Spring of 2001. It's not just that the book business is getting rough. Harvey Zucker, who will be 70 when the shop closes, would like to do a little more than spend his time in the shop. (Probably, spend time with his kids.)
Harvey is discounting his stock. I'm not above taking advantage of an old man; especially since I am one, as well. You, too, can be equally opportunistic. His last catalog will be out in the first weeks of November. Harvey has a website at http://www.aphotographersplace.com/ with a direct link to his email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can order the free catalog by email, fax (212-941-7920), mail (PO Box 274, Prince St. New York, NY 10012) or walk through the door at 133 Mercer St. in Big City, Bad City, Damn Fine City, New York.
To me, even though the website is relatively new, the catalog is more interesting. It's been coming out for years and is the only photographic catalog that challenges Edmund Scientific, Sears, LL Bean, and Victoria's Secret for sheer enjoyment as bathroom reading.