Produced by the German TV channel ZDF, the film How to Make a Book with Steidl, generally shown at exhibitions and festivals, is now available on DVD. For an entire year, directors Gereon Wetzel and Jörg Adolph shadowed publisher Gerhard Steidl, supported here by an all-star cast: Martin Parr, Robert Frank, Robert Adams, Ed Ruscha and Jeff Wall. While the film travels the corners of the world (from Göttingen to Qatar via Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Mabou), the plot centers on the creation of Joel Sternfeld’s iDubai. The curtain is drawn on the entire creative process, from editing to printing, including format choice and even the “making of” a cover. Scenes of the white-smocked Steidl working in his Düstere Strasse space in Göttingen are both passionate and amusing. His maniacal attention invading every detail, he inquires about his authors, hauls a palette of paper, corrects a proof, spontaneously empties a garbage can, fires off an idea, solves a problem. Regrettably, aside from a brief scene with Robert Adams when the publisher evokes his father, Steidl resists revealing what truly motivates his unbridled activity. Nonetheless, How to Make a Book with Steidl is much more than a portrait of a major 21st century publisher – it is one of the first films to unveil the exact process of how photobooks come to life.


English translation by Kevin Jones

The Printed Space exclusive excerpt: Sternfeld and Steidl choosing the cover for iDubai. Courtesy Steidl Publishers.

How to Make a Book with Steidl, 1 DVD, Steidl DocCollection, 88 minutes, English/German.


The site of the film.

Our previous article on Joel Sternfeld’s iDubaï (in french).

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