Hi – welcome to our new blog about the first ever photography and interview book about independent record stores of Los Angeles and beyond. I want to emphasize that our book focuses specifically on record stores – this is not a book about record collectors or record covers, nor is it about the most influential records everyone must have in their collections. Our book is not a guide to finding the nearest store near you. There are other books, blogs, and projects in the works about those facets of records and music, but there has never been a visually based book just about record stores, and not one focused on a metropolitan area.
Our book is the first book that is all about the independent record stores of Los Angeles and the surrounding communities – from Santa Barbara, down to Costa Mesa, out to Riverside. When this book comes out, and has success, the intention is to do sequel books about other regions of the US or even other countries – “Record Stores of the Pacific Northwest, the South, the East Coast, New York City, London”, etc… The potential for more books about other regions or cities is totally possible and is being discussed.
This project entered my head in 2011 just before I went home to Cincinnati to visit my family and to do my customary trip to my favorite record store from childhood – Everybody’s Records, on Montgomery Road in Pleasant Ridge. I had seen a book at Skylight Books in Los Angeles – “Storefronts – The Disappearing Face of New York” (Gingko Press) – and I loved it and I had thought about doing a photography book about Mom and Pop storefonts in Los Angeles, but that seemed very broad to me and I wanted to do something more focused. I love music and records, and it popped into my head one day, maybe while in the shower or while riding my bike when I get all my brilliant ideas – that I should find a way to combine urban/street photography with my love for music, vinyl records and record stores – and so I thought of doing a more focused photography project solely about record stores – also a mom and pop small business that is very much a part of the American urban landscape and has been on the decline like other small businesses.
So after I took some shots at Everybody’s Records, I then shot more photos at the other 3 stores in town since that was all that was left there after previous stores had gone out of business. The idea was born, but I could not just focus on Cincinnati because there are only 4 stores there and that would make a very short book. I intended then to shoot record stores all across the United States, then I thought, wow, that is too big, so how about up and down the West Coast. And I thought, wow, that is too much, I have a day job, I can’t just travel up and down the coast going from store to store – yet. So let me work with my limitations and just focus on the city where I live – Los Angeles. It is the music capital of the world, LA’s got to have alot of stores. I soon discovered almost 30 stores just in LA. And more around LA. Now I have a book!
This is the first post and I am very eager to update all of you about the book. I am in the process of completing a teaser/sampler to send to publishers. My book designer, Carlos Benitez, from Global Media Network in Hollywood, is working with me to design the entire book and to create an awesome teaser that will grab the attention of publishers.
I have selected a handful of book publishing companies that I feel are right for this project. Some of these include Gingko Press, Chronicle Books, Taschen, Angel City Press, and Rizzoli – bec these publishers have put out books that have similarities to this book. They have all published fine art photography “coffee table” books about subjects ranging from the decline of the ‘mom and pop’ storefront, record cover art, collectibles, the vanishing American small town, rock and roll billboards, and vinyl records that everyone should have in their collections. I have written the proposal and will be sending it along with the teaser to my contacts at the publishing companies very soon.
We have designed about half of the book so far – there are approximately 45 stores – all in and around the Los Angeles area.
Other members of the team include my amazing writer and editor – Rebecca Villaneda and Ashley Raitcliff. Becky is conducting all the interviews with store owners. The interviews include detailed store history and facts, anecdotes and opinions from the owners about the music industry, the vinyl record revival, and the decline and resent resurgence of the record store. We also hope to get quotes from musicians who can contribute an anecdote about a memorable record store experience. I am working on this with some friends who have contacts with musicians. The book will have a section for each store with color images – shot on film with film cameras, not digital! – and accompanying narratives from the store owners to enhance the book experience. We want you, the viewer, to feel like you are inside the record store when you are inside the book!
The sample pages will be on the blog site soon, as we are still putting things together. Please write and tell us your thoughts. If you know any musicians who want to contribute a quote, or publishers or anyone else who may be interested in publishing, marketing, or promoting our book, tell me that too! More to come.