by Kate Breakey
by Lena Tabori
Excerpt: "I immediately ordered Painted Light."
At Book Expo America, I was thinking deeply about the role of publishers as I walked the show looking for the new great visual books--gift books, photography books, cookbooks, art books, maybe even a children's book. What is a great publisher and why does America have so few of them in my field? I have been publishing visual books all my life (at Abrams, Stewart, Tabori & Chang and for the last years, Welcome Books). Book Expo is one of the few places you can see books organized by publisher. That is a rare window on a publisher's passion. This is what I found.
It was immediately clear that while certain authors, photographers and artists are truly stars, some publishers have a vision and a passion as strong as any creator. Sometimes, you can recognize their books a mile away - Workman (named for founder and owner Peter Workman), for example. Workman has grown to be the largest privately held American publishing house. One of the ways you observe Peter's genius is in his addition of imprints, each with its own powerful and distinct publisher: for example, Ann Bramson at Artisan, Elisabeth Scharlatt at Algonquin, J.P. Leventhal at Black Dog & Leventhal. In that creatively charged environment, I immediately saw two visual books that will be contenders this fall: The Louvre: All the Paintings (Black Dog, $75, almost 3,000 paintings, in full color, 784 pages, slip cased, plus DVD) and Barbara Kafka's The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food Without Gluten & Lactose (Artisan, $29.95). Winner of the James Beard Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, Kafka is simply a walking encyclopedia. Hands down, every family with a child suffering from gluten or lactose intolerance will conclude that a delicious Kafka solution is their solution.
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