Café Royal Books

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Café Royal Books
FounderCraig Atkinson
Country of originUK
Headquarters locationSouthport, Merseyside, England
Nonfiction topicsDocumentary photography
Fiction genresdrawing

Café Royal Books is a small independent publisher[1][2] of photography photobooks or zines,[3] and sometimes drawing, solely run by Craig Atkinson and based in Southport, England.[4][5][6] Café Royal Books produces small-run publications predominantly documenting social, historical and architectural change, often in Britain,[4][5][7][8] using both new work and photographs from archives.[9] It has been operating since 2005 and by mid 2014 had published about 200 books and zines.

Its publications are held in public collections including Tate, Britain;[10][11] National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London;[12] Museum of Modern Art, New York City;[13] National Gallery of Canada;[14] the British Library[15] and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.[16]

Martin Parr has described Café Royal Books as "a great archive of much forgotten documentary photography"[17] and Daniel Meadows has said "Craig Atkinson [ . . . ] has invented a publishing model for creating a truly exciting new history of documentary photography in Britain."[18]


A variety of Café Royal publications for sale in Foyles bookshop, London

Atkinson, based in Southport and a lecturer in the School of Art, Design and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire, founded Café Royal Books in 2005.[4][5][7][19] The titles are published frequently, typically one per week in 2014,[4][7] always in short runs[19] typically of 150 copies.[7] They are sold direct and through bookshops[20] in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and Switzerland.[21] All their books have a consistent print quality, paper and layout;[4] the colophon is on the front allowing it to be easily read on bookshop shelves, they are laid out to a grid system, usually 28 pages in length, slightly under A5 size, originally but no longer hand numbered, predominantly black & white and affordably printed.

Café Royal Books produce publications predominantly documenting social, historical and architectural change,[4][5][7][8] using both new work and photographs from archives.[9] Writing in Artist's Book Yearbook: 2014-2015 (Impact Press, 2013) Atkinson said emphasis "is given to work that encourages new ways of thinking about existing material or language which demonstrates the importance of using, documenting, collecting and observing a particular process or thing."[22] For example, in 2013 Café Royal began publishing a series of books based loosely on Britain and Britishness by British photographers.[22]

The first six publications were collaborative group books.[22] Since then most have included the work of an individual photographer or artist. Café Royal Books specialises in collaborating with a photographer.[19] It has published work by John Bulmer, David Carol,[23][24] John Claridge,[7] John Deakin, Peter Dench, Henrik Drescher, Alejandro Guijarro, Ken Grant, David Hurn,[25] Daniel Meadows, Tish Murtha, Jim Mortram,[26] Martin Parr, Simon Roberts, Victor Sloan, Brian David Stevens,[27][28][3] Homer Sykes,[17] Ed Templeton,[29] Arthur Tress,[30] Patrick Ward, and Document Scotland photographers among others. Café Royal has worked with some photographers to produce numerous different books of their work. Many of the books are of Atkinson's own work.[31]

Craig Atkinson in 2014

In 2014 Café Royal Books produced one publication per week.[32]


Various Café Royal publications are held in public collections (museums and galleries) including:

Café Royal Projects[edit]

Café Royal Projects are occasional projects that use gallery type spaces for a purpose other than an exhibition. In 2010 the Café Royal Temporary Library invited artists to submit books and editions. The gallery space was presented as a reading room for the public to use, with 800 titles.[22] In 2012 the International Drawing Project exhibited film, drawing, and publications from eighty artists over three weeks. Ten catalogues were published to document the event and the artists.[22] In 2013 an exhibition and reading room featured essays from academics with backgrounds in photography, artists' books and communication design.[22]


  • Picture Book: Co-curated with Pages, The Tetley, Leeds, UK, January–March 2016. With Café Royal Books publications as well as work from Christian Barnes, David Barton, Nous Vous, and Landfill Editions.[34]


  1. ^ "Artist’s books are collected by Tate and send across the globe", Southport Visitor. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  2. ^ "The National Portrait Gallery's Helen Trompeteler on photography", IdeasTap. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Notting Hill sound systems documented in photo fanzine". The Wire. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Great new zines from Café Royal Books offer unlikely tours of Britain and America", It's Nice That. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Café Culture". British Journal of Photography. Apptitude Media. 162 (7836): 64–65. 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Mauger, Zelda (18 October 2013). "« Assez compulsif et très obsessionnel » On a parlé avec Craig Atkinson, le génie derrière Café Royal Books". Vice. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Publication: Café Royal Books immerse us in all of the peculiarities of Britain", It's Nice That. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b Ellis, Rosie (13 November 2014). "Nine Years of Documenting Britain&'s Forgotten History with Cafe Royal Books". i-D. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b CBM #01. London: Copeland Book Market. 2013. OCLC 175165701. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Tate Library Catalogue", Tate. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Search Results: 29 titles matched: Café Royal Books", National Art Library. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Dadabase: The Museum of Modern Art", Museum of Modern Art. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Explore the British Library: Search, View and Order from our Catalogues & Collections", British Library. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Baltic Plus | Home". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  15. ^ a b "Social Landscapes in Britain in the 1970s". Image Magazine. Association of Photographers (2): 6. 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Daniel Meadows". Photobook Bristol. Archived from the original on 29 December 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  17. ^ a b c "Craig Atkinson: Staff Profile: University of Central Lancashire", University of Central Lancashire. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  18. ^ "Foyles Photography Section", Source (magazine). Accessed 11 July 2014.
  19. ^ "About Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine", Café Royal Books. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Artist's Book Yearbook: 2014-2015. Bristol: Impact Press, UWE Bristol. 2013. ISBN 978-1-906501-07-5. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  21. ^ "About David Carol", LensCulture. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Where's the Monkey?", LensCulture. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  23. ^ Havlin, Laura (14 March 2017). "David Hurn's California". Magnum Photos. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  24. ^ Stelfox, Dave (19 February 2014). "'I photograph people who don't have a voice': Jim Mortram's Norfolk portraits". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  25. ^ "Brian David Stevens captures the sound systems of the Notting Hill Carnival". Financial Times. 8 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  26. ^ "If Only I’d Known: Photographer Brian David Stevens", IdeasTap. Accessed 11 July 2014.
  27. ^ Smyth, Diane (9 December 2016). "Ed Templeton's new zine is the lick". British Journal of Photography. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  28. ^ "Bookshop News: Discoveries at Photobook Bristol", Photographers' Gallery. Accessed 17 August 2014.
  29. ^ Behind the Zines: Self-publishing Culture. Berlin: Gestalten. 2011. pp. 40, 222. ISBN 978-3-89955-336-9. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  30. ^ Abraham, Amelia (25 November 2014). "Café Royal Publish Exactly One Great Photobook Every Week". Vice. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  31. ^ "Towards a comprehensive collection of Scottish documentary photobooks". University of St Andrews. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  32. ^ "Picture Book: Co-curated with Pages". The Tetley. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016.

External links[edit]