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Fall Line Press, Atlanta’s new publisher of photo books, makes its debut

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Fall Line Press will hold a book signing for its first publication, “Free Fall – 01.Noel.01,” by Atlanta photographer Laura Noel, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 30, in its new reading room in Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, 1000 Marietta Street, Suite 112.

Is William Boling a contrarian? Despite the fact that all signs point to the extinction of printed matter, the Atlanta photographer has just founded Fall Line Press, a photo-book publishing business, and he has instituted a cozy reading library in a corner of Jennifer Schwartz Gallery.

From Boling’s perspective, the proliferation of photographic images online and in smart phones makes book publishing all the more urgent and important. Such images are often ephemeral and discontinuous, and devalued by their ubiquity and intangibility. To his mind, the book retains important visual, physical and psychological values. Its serial form permits an artist to develop ideas and complex thinking. The act of holding a book and turning pages is its own sensory experience. And, notwithstanding the flood of self-published books, it remains a source of validation.

Editor Michael David Murphy will work closely with invited artists to produce signed, limited-edition books priced around $15. The plan is to publish quarterly. Each artist will publish four books, and each quarter a new artist will start the cycle. The previous artist will be involved in editing the next one. Sixteen publications a year will build a nice portfolio of talent — local and regional, at least at the outset — that might enhance the community’s reputation as well as individual artists’.

A photo from "Free Fall" by Atlanta photographer Laura Noel.
Nexus Press, also founded by photographers, is not far from Boling’s thoughts. The internationally recognized publisher was a source of pride and an impetus to creativity for 30 years until its demise in 2003. Times have changed, and so has publishing. Fall Line’s books won’t be hand-pulled, for instance. Print-on-demand publishing makes the project feasible.

Boling envisions the reading room at the gallery as a gathering place, where visitors can browse and talk. He has filled its shelves, made of wood from an old barn, with photography books, many rare and out of print, from his own collection. Designed by Atlanta artist Scott Ingram, the room will also serve as a bookstore. Whether it will draw visitors is an open question. Stuart Horodner, artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, had similar aspirations for the reading room there, but you’re more likely to find artists gathered at the nearby Octane coffeehouse.

But, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. With this project, Boling and Murphy have joined the ranks of Atlanta’s increasingly entrepreneurial artists. Fall Line Press is a great idea. I hope to watch it grow.

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