Tropical Reading: Photobook and Self-Publishing (First Edition)


Tropical Reading: Photobook and Self-Publishing is a survey of publishing methodologies across Southeast Asia.


Founded by Taiwanese artists Liu Chao-tze and Lin Junye, Fotobook DUMMIES Day is an artist-led initiative focusing on photobooks and self-publishing.

First established as a photobook fair, with the aim of gathering artists who work with images and self-publishing, Fotobook DUMMIES Day experiments with these two mediums as a curatorial basis for exhibitions, events and artist talks.

Expanding the scope of the conversation further, Fotobook DUMMIES Day began an extensive field research project in Southeast Asia in 2019. In May 2022, Tropical Reading: Photobook and Self-Publishing was co-published by Fotobook DUMMIES Day and 朋丁 pon ding.

Focusing on "images," "self-publishing," and "community”, Fotobook DUMMIES Day has held three editions of the photobook fair, transforming alternative spaces — a bar, a youth hostel, and an independent bookstore — into a temporary gathering place for the self-publishing community.


Published by Fotobook DUMMIES Day, Tropical Reading explores three key themes: a) artists; b) art bookshops; c) photobooks and self-publishing.

The first chapter illustrates the photography practitioners and artist collectives from each city in Southeast Asia, examining why they chose to get into self-publishing. The second chapter explores the ways in which independent art bookstores came to be the social parlors of the self-publishing crowd. The third chapter island-hops between the photobook and self-publishing phenomena of recent years, observing how the outsider artists, archives and arts initiatives of Southeast Asia came to shape the face of photography and self-publishing in their respective cities.

An appendix titled ‘So, Why Photobook?’ explores the changing meaning of the term ‘photobook’ in different linguistic contexts, the myriad of links between the term and the physical object — and ultimately explores why artists create photobooks.

Tropical Reading also contains an index, providing a compilation of research, condensing the profiles of all the interviewees — ranging from individuals to bookshops to organisations – offering an informal ‘Yellow Pages’ for the Southeast Asian art scene.

As a bilingual publication, the English version can be read from left to right; the Chinese version right to left.


Written by Liu Chao-tze and Lin Junye
Edited by Chen Yu-ting and Chou Hsiang Hsuan
Translated by Joanna Lee
Published by Fotobook DUMMIES Day

Languages: English, Chinese
Format: Softcover with Wire-O binding, 278 pages
Dimensions: 195 x 230 x 37 mm
Edition: First
ISBN-13: 9789869862844
Full Title: 熱帶島讀 Tropical Reading: Photobook and Self-Publishing
Publication Date: 2022