Think coffee table books, and you picture a bulky hardcover filled with interesting photos and some text. They're meant to entertain, and the fact that they're heavy means they're not meant to be portable. David R. Brower, first Executive Director of the Sierra Club, the US-based environmental organisation, is credited with saying that a coffee table book must have “a page size big enough to carry a given image's dynamic.”
That sums up quite clearly what its aim used to be. Brower's This is the American Earth, published in 1960, was the first coffee table book and was a huge success, leading to the publication of 20 titles in the series. However, with the passage of time, its novelty has worn off. Given today's hectic lifestyle, the coffee table book has undergone a dramatic change. Not only has its very nature evolved, but it is also being used by the average person as a means of getting their work noticed.
With Web sites such as Picsquare, Canvera and Snapfish, anyone can publish a coffee table-like book within a matter of days, without waiting for the approval of a publisher. These sites let one design and print their own coffee table book, using a special online service. The users get the flexibility to upload their own photos and text, and pick the cover and layout using the various themes the sites provide. It's all entirely customisable, apart from being affordable and quick. Canvera suggests using these books as a means to preserve memories, make a dedication to that special someone, make a presentation to clients, create a portfolio, design a product brochure or even write a bedtime story book for children.
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