One of the dumbest things I ever read about crowdfunding new books was on a forum in which an anoymous commenter (warning sign #1) was railing against authors who chose crowdfunding. “Whatever happened to good old fashioned hard work?” he lamented. (I’m sure it was a male, because all online jackasses are.) That it was hard work to write a book in the first place apparently did not occur to him.
Furthermore, crowdfunding projects is good old fashioned hard work, and today’s weekly ebook is a case in point. In 1860 silver photography had been around for a couple decades but it was still extremely expensive. To make an entire book of photographs would have been a fool’s errand.
Francis Frith figured this out as he travelled through the Holy Land with his camera. Still, someone had to make the first book of travel photography, so Frith enlisted his friends from all his circles–church, literature, politics–and convinced them to fund the book before it was even printed. Eventually he convinced 271 people to do so, all of whom are listed in the dedication of Egypt and Palestine Photographed and Described by Francis Frith.
There have been a scattering of Frith’s images across teh interwebz, but no real reproduction of the book in toto. This is an attempt to remedy that. The images are not ideal–the scans come from a copy of the book held in the University of Georgia‘s library–but they are a fair introduction. Of course, if you wish to modify the pictures and replace them with better prints, that’s what the Creative Commons license suggests you do. Or you can go buy a copy from Amazon for $12,500.