The Art Book Game in Paris

Editor Has Finger in Many Pies

Paris:- Monday, 25. March 1996:- Rather than give a scrambled-egg approach to the Salon du Livre like last Friday, I decided to focus on just two publishers - out of nearly 1200.

Monday is a late opening day for the public and I got here just at opening time: 13:00. It looked like 2500 people got here ahead of me. With half of my best plan shot, I ploughed my way to the Hazan Editions stand, number J73.

Hazan does art books - in a city of art, artists, art photographers, art schools, art supply shops, art magazines, art critics, framers, art dealers, auctioneers, art museums, art cafés, architecture, and arty types - and Hazan has a shop in the Quartier Latin, an arty area, at 35-37 rue de Seine, where ordinary non-arty people can bump into the art scene, buy it, and carry it home with them. What you get may not be the 'real' thing, but nobody is standing it front of it either.

As you might imagine, there are quite a few publishers like Hazan. I picked Hazan, not because they refused to do a poster of mine some years ago - that is another story - but because I saw a demonstration of a CD-ROM title called, 'Paris - Virtual Tourism.'

Briefly, what is special about 'Paris - Virtual Tourism' is that it presents scenes of Paris, using the QuickTime-VR technology. Don't boggle; read further. For short, QT-VR allows you to make a 360 degree photo of, say, a place, like the place de la Concorde. Using the mouse, facing a sort of cinemascope screen, you can 'drive' the view you see to the right or the left, up or down, all the way around. The picture, which is many precisely-taken photos 'sewn' together, turns - quickly, slowly - whichever way you want. You can even zoom in and out.
Applied to Paris, applied in the way it is presented on this CD-ROM, it is certainly something you have never seen before - and since this is one of the first major applications of the QT-VR system, this disc will be a collector's item regardless of how many are sold.

'Paris - Virtual Tourism' contains no less than 250 of these 'panoramics,' plus 300 notes about sites and a thousand other graphic images. It is stunning; judging from the demo I saw.

Back to Hazan. I have already talked to the company that conceived the CD-ROM - 3éme Vague in Montparnasse. They had the idea and the technology; Hazan added their editorial expertise; and some sponsors kicked in their support - and the technology itself is signed Apple.

Hazan's logo is on the box beside 3éme Vagues's. Hazan sells the CD-ROM in its shop on the rue de Seine, and it is sold throughout Paris for 349 francs. The wholesaler is 'Art & Culture Multimedia' in Paris and the worldwide distributor is 'C.L.E.F.' also in Paris. Because of this jungle of relationships, I have not been able to get a review copy - so I can not show you what this QT-VR, with Paris as subject, looks like. You can only see it on the CD-ROM - a still shot of it tells you nothing more than one of my own photos would.

Hazan is primarily a publisher of art books. Subjects new in their catalogue are Cézanne (with CD-ROM), Frescos of the Renaissance; Jewelry of Africa, Asia and Oceania; Mexican Notebooks by Henri Cartier-Bresson; Marseille, a book of photographs; theme agendas/diaries (illustrated with movie posters); address books (illustrated); Modigliani, by Pierre Durieu; The Splendor of Concrete; A Life of the Suburbs (photographs); and 'Lu, l'Art du Biscuit.'

There are books by French and foreign experts, on master artists, from Bonnard to Vermeer; collections by various artists such as Durer and Poussin; collection on schools of art, from the Renaissance to New York. There are art histories, monographs, and collections for young readers. Modern art is represented as is architecture, photography, the photography of cities, design, and whole artistic civilizations.

The range of subjects covered in the various editions is astonishing - but it also says something crucial about this type of publishing: the publications require an immense amount of expert collaboration. A theme is proposed, an author engaged and the rights to reproduce the works are acquired. The author is often a recognized art historian; the books are designed by graphic artists and produced by masters of the printing trades - astonishing, if one thinks that many of these books are based on the original work of a single artist. Little did they know what industry they would induce...

I guess that is what makes a publisher and distributer like Hazan - and many others similar in Paris, New York, London, Amsterdam - prime movers in the 'art and multimedia' wave. They have the experience of collaborative work.

Just one example: Hazan published the 'Dictionnaire de l'Art Moderne et Contemporain' in 1992. This work, directed by Gérard Durozoi, had a team of 40 authors, took five years to produce, represents 41 countries, and contains 2000 reproductions. The paper edition costs 580 francs. A CD-ROM version (with the same title) of basically the same contents, with a additional set of collaborators, has just been published. The multimedia version contains 4000 reproductions and has a suggested retail price of 595 francs. The lead distributor in France is the Reunion des Musées Nationaux. Translation into English, Spanish, Italian and Japanese is under way; under the supervision of respectively, Thames & Hudson, Akal, Electa/Monadori, and Fuji Television.
I guess the above is a little dry to read. If I had just simply written that one of these dictionaries or one of these CD-ROM spin-offs were the result of a phantasmagorical collaboration spanning the globe, and let it go at that, everybody could 'get' it immediately - and get on with the important things in life, like the price of cheese.

All I wanted you to know, is that these things require a lot of... Work.

If you would care to know where Hazan publications may be acquired near you, send email enquiries to

For more details about the QT-VR CD-ROM 'Paris Virtual Tourism' try

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