John Evans appreciates the beauty of his city. So much so, the owner of the nearly four-decade-old Lemuria Books is working on a first: a photography book he will publish along with photographer Ken Murphy andÂ design editor Rick DobbsÂ about Mississippi’s capital city.
Jackson: Crossroads of the South, slated for spring 2014 publication, will be a 165-page artistic photography book. Lemuria recognized the need for a modern book on Jackson and Murphy was ready for his next project.
A native Mississippian, Murphy has published three photography books on the state, including My South Coast Home, Mississippi, and Mississippi: State of Blues.
Evans says the foundation for the book has a simple goal: to capture what we value, enjoy and find beautiful about the city. Murphy has been on task for the last six months to photograph just that. The assignment has taken him from the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade to the steps of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion to street festivals, gardens, historic places and more.
Consequently, Evans says, there’s no agenda. “If we can’t get a good photo, it can’t go in the book. We’re making sure we have the best possible finished product.” But, he says, they’re staying away from “postcard shots,” Murphy explains: “That’s John’s way of saying it’s not just pretty pictures for the sake pretty pictures. We’re trying to get creative images that tell a story.”
Jackson is an important project for Evans, not just as a first published book, but for what he hopes the book can do to boost local pride. “The more I thought about it, I think it’s important to capture the essence of our city. I’m tired of people saying Jackson is an ugly place, or ‘I don’t like Jackson.’ I’m tired of people saying, ‘Jackson’s washed up.’ Idealistically, we need a little culture pop, saying ‘Hey, Jackson is not a bad place.’ What better way to solidify that attitude than a beautiful book? What better way for a bookstore to enhance the community than to publish a book on the community?”
Photographer Murphy, who had reservations about the book at first, says he’s now fully on board. “When we first talked about it, I have to admit, I was skeptical. I didn’t know Jackson. But now, I’m beginning to know Jackson better than many Jacksonians. I’ve made friends — and I’m eating at some great places.”
Jackson is a kindred project between Evans and Murphy, keeping with Murphy’s mission to document Mississippi in a way that elevates the state. “I like Jackson so much more than I thought I did. And that’s our goal: our goal is to get people to re-appreciate Jackson and maybe come back to do business and live here. As John likes to say, we’re hoping to shape the culture of Jackson in a better way.”
Lemuria will also wholesale and retail the book. Distributorship will be open to homegrown businesses that appreciate Jackson. “Anyone who wants it can buy it by the case,” Evans explains. “Anyone local will have the opportunity to sell it.” A retailer’s meeting will be scheduled in the coming weeks, explaining the wholesale box price process. The suggested retail will be $75.