So, as I said earlier, I was not aiming to create a reference book of every album cover variation. I was aiming to create a single set of each LP’s art that could be enjoyed as if you had a full set of the LPs in your lap.
There were a couple of obvious issues (and temptations) that arose in conceptualizing how to do this:
Would it be just the UK covers? Would Apple allow me to do more? Could I include the US LPs, and if so, could I/should I include the compilations and other “non-studio” albums– from the Beatles Story, through the Hollywood Bowl, Rock & Roll Music, Love Songs, etc.
Should I include every cover variation from around the world?
As many of you have implied by your questions, more does seem to be better. And I have to admit that at one point along the way, I put together an outline that included all the singles and EP covers as well.
Then, practical issues began to come into play.
While I was working on the artwork book, I was also working on what became the “Box” … trying to figure out exactly what it would be, how to get it manufactured, how much it would cost to do so and how much I should charge for it.
The original concept, as i mentioned earlier, was to make this a single book (not a “box”). Back in 2001 I had a prototype made up of a single book with two sections: one with CD holding pages, the other with the LP art. I liked the idea of a single compact all-in-one book, but this would have really limited how many artwork pages I could include– once you got past 80 it got too bulky and awkward. Also, it occured to me that if I wanted to be able to sit with the artwork on my lap while I listened to the music, the book was going to be too heavy if it held the CDs as well. So, I began working on ways to include two separate elements in a unified piece.
If there is interest, I will get into the development of the whole physical package in later blogs. It was a long process and developed over time, with the contributions of some very creative people. What is relevant here is that it was beginning to become clear that unless I was going to create a $250 plus retail product, I was going to be limited as to how many pages I could include in the LP art book.
I have only good things to say about Genesis Publications. I love what they do, and I own a number of their books. I just was never aiming to make this that expensive a package, or limit its production to a couple of thousand copies. (And where was I going to get the cloth from the towels that the band used to dry off at their Shea Stadium shows??)
I really envisioned this as being an essential piece for all Beatles fans. (I hope that does not sound self-aggrandizing. I mean it from the perspective that this is the Bealtles’ artwork– I was not writing a book about the Beatles– I was merely presenting their artwork in a new, convenient and hopefully beautiful context.) I wanted this product to be within reach of the largest mass of Beatles fans I could reach. That meant pricing the final package under $100. Pricing it that way meant I had to be careful of my manufacturing and distribution costs. And that ultimately meant that I had to limit the book to 200 pages. (As it is it weighs close to 13 lbs, which makes it difficult and expensive to distribute.)
Two hundred pages meant I had to limit myself to just the albums, if I wanted to include the US ones (which, having grown up in the US with those albums, I did). And it meant I had to move on from the idea of including all the Capitol and Parlophone compilations. (My focus on the UK and US albums, however, led to the idea of the Catalography–more about that in a later blog–and I realized I could at least put that cover art there.)
I should point out that although this may all sound like I had to really compromise on the final book content, i dont really feel that way. My underlying goal was always to create a context for a new fan (now and in the future) to wrap their brain around the amazing body of work that is comprised in the Beatles albums. The Box of Vision aims (and I think succeeds) to do that. Including everything from everywhere (especially compilations which the band had little or nothing to do with) could confuse the new fan and dilute the impact of what is contained in just the amazing “official,” artist- authorized releases. There are many artists, whose catalogs have been repackaged endlessly, who could put together an impressive and hefty volume of LP artwork; how many can do it with just the official releases?
And there was always the possibility of a Volume 2….
Next (or soon): the compromises I did make, and the one I regret. (You’ll have to wait before administering that beating).