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Reinier Gerritsen’s Candid Photos of Subway Bibliophiles

Curators’ Corner

Reinier Gerritsen’s Candid Photos of Subway Bibliophiles

Reinier Gerritsen Bibliophiles The Last Book

Author and technologist Nicholas Negroponte has issued a bold, harrowing prediction to bibliophiles worldwide: By the spring of 2016 – the very last printed book will be released.

The hyperbole in Negroponte’s statement is certainly up for debate, but his main point is undeniable – the days of books are numbered. Despite this grim outlook, Dutch photographer Reinier Gerrtisen has uncovered a fellowship of technological holdouts in the unlikeliest of places – The New York City subway. His photography series, The Last Book, documents the fascinating reading habits of book-loving straphangers in the Big Apple.

Like a scientist tracking an endangered species, Gerritsen navigated through hundreds of NYC subway cars over a three-year period, searching from dusk till dawn for the increasingly uncommon book reader. Amidst a sea of Kindles, tablets and iPhones, Gerritsen located hundreds of bookworms indulging in reading material as diverse as the city itself. From Aristotle to J.K Rowling, classic fiction to airport romance novels, Gerritsen captured the entire scope of not only literature, but also human interest.

“This is how it goes. Everything is always changing, but there’s a beautiful phenomenon that’s vanishing. That’s why I wanted to document it,” he said.

Gerritsen worked surreptitiously, snapping quick photos of his unsuspecting subjects for a raw, candid feel. Occasionally, the odd passenger would grow suspicious, so Gerritsen started carrying a small note explaining the project’s intentions.

“With my little slip of paper, I explained that books are vanishing and are being replaced by characterless iPads and Kindles. They would read this and I always got a smile back,” he said.

Which train line is the most book-friendly? According to Gerritsen, it’s the L, which runs along 14th street into the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“The L is the most intellectual line, I think. A lot of people are going to Brooklyn. They read certain books. There is a difference,” he said.

Gerritsen’s hard work came to fruition in September 2014 when The Last Book was compiled and released as a hardcover edition. Currently, the series is on display at New York’s Julie Saul Gallery until the 7th of February.

For a larger selection of photos, head over to Reinier Gerritsen’s website, where every shot is organized alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Reinier Gerritsen Bibliophiles The Last Book Man in Subway

Reinier Gerritsen Bibliophiles The Last Book Aristotle

Reinier Gerritsen Bibliophiles The Last Book: Harry Potter

Reinier Gerritsen Bibliophiles The Last Book: McCullers Carson

Reinier Gerritsen Bibliophiles The Last Book  Stevenson Robert

Photos: Reinier Gerritsen, courtesy Julie Saul Gallery, New York