What are some upcoming trends?
Now more than ever, people want to feel like people—not like robots, mere extensions of their phones and their email. We want to feel connected to our communities, to people across the world, to nature, to our bodies, to our sense of humanity. It’s why the conference culture popularized by organizations like TED is so prevalent and why “Humans of New York” has over 15 million followers on Facebook. Photography is in some ways the ultimate visual shortcut to connect emotionally in this way. One millisecond and boom, a good photograph can evoke a feeling, a sound, a smell, a spark. It’s the thing that blew me away about On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace, photographer Michael O’Neill’s 10-year exploration of yoga and meditation, which we’re publishing this month. He’s like an anthropologist, a mystic, and a cinematographer all wrapped in one.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Books that inspire without being “inspirational.” At Taschen, we’re always looking for books readers will want to give as gifts, especially ones that could suit almost anyone who loves books. I always think graduation: is this a book to inspire at a turning point in one’s life, and what could be more moving than the architecture of the universe (our Hubble book, Expanding Universe, is one of my favorites) or great art?
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
Much like children’s books are in another world from adult trade, visually driven books operate in a totally different sphere. For one thing, we very rarely work with literary agents. Artists and photographers and collectors and designers have a way of getting to us directly—and we, them. We also publish our books worldwide, so we’re always looking for international appeal.
Any interactions with indie authors lately?
I work with writers across all kinds of fields, from biology to automotive history, depending on the subject, but I most love working with writers’ writers. Owen Edwards, who has written many essays for me, is one of them. Lately I’ve been working with Gay Talese to finish the new edition we’re publishing of his classic story, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” He’s not exactly “indie,” but he is a master at playing the outsider who takes his time to burrow deep into a world he knows nothing about.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I’ve been making books for almost 20 years, I’m an avid buyer of books, and yet I’m continually overwhelmed by the chaos we create in this business. I get it: writers and artists and academics want to publish their work; but we owe it to our landfills, our forests, and our bulging storage units to ask, why does this idea/manuscript/body of work need to be a book, and what kind of book should it be? Will anyone buy it? Is it important? Or is it just one person’s ego trip, and five or 10 or 100 years from now, will anyone care?
Nina Wiener studied literature and art history at Vassar College in New York before falling in love with making books. Since 2002, she has edited dozens of titles for Taschen, including Walton Ford’s Pancha Tantra, Norman Mailer’s MoonFire, and Lawrence Schiller’s Marilyn & Me.