The Story Behind ... Mountains and Waters

September 15, 2016

The Story Behind ... Mountains and Waters

Mountains and Waters by Alexander Gronsky was released in September 2016. It might be a surprise to know that I’ve actually been working on it since early 2014. Thus the release demonstrates a culmination of almost 2 years work.

So what happened? Back in 2013, when Alexander and myself first began talking about creating a book I was immediately drawn to Mountains and Waters for reasons that I think are obvious to anyone who sees the project. Based on the project I knew immediately that it needed a bigger publication than what I had done to that date to really present the project as it needed to be seen.

As a project I found it fascinating how it documented modern China from a multitude of perspectives. As a viewer we go from farms to ports, from infrastructure to riverside settlements. The photos reminded me of traditional Chinese paintings and, indeed, that was Alexander’s intention when shooting the project.

Back in 2013, however, two things were working against me. Firstly, I lacked the confidence as a publisher to believe that I could pull it off as it needed to be. I had never done a hardback book and was still only getting my head around the book-making process. Secondly, I was not so financially stable to be able to make such an investment. I knew we could go for a smaller format but I didn’t think that would do the project justice.  

Midway through the design process for Mountains and Waters Alexander showed me Norilsk. I knew straight away that it was the perfect project for where I was as a publisher then. I loved making it and the feedback was amazing. It was featured on a number of Best of 2014 lists and sold out faster …. Well it sold out - that’s amazing as it is!

Financially speaking Mountains and Waters is the most expensive book we have ever invested in, at almost twice the amount of its closest rival. But the reception to Norilsk gave me the belief to go through with it. Getting the chance to meet Alexander was also a huge help. Last year he was passing through Osaka on his way from Kochi to Fuji and we met in Shin-Osaka station. We discussed how Norilsk had done and our plans for this book. Shortly after he arrived back in Europe we skyped and thrashed out the format and sequence until we found something we were excited about.

In May we were ready to print at last. Seeing the images on paper was, as it always is, a great experience and a great way to get re-excited about a project you have been planning for so long. The reception last week when we released the book was really positive and I’m looking forward to hearing back from the first people who received their orders!




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