In 2014, photobook collecting continued to thrive with even more photographers than ever breaking traditional formats and leveling the hierarchy of traditional publishing platforms by taking on all aspects of controlling and presenting their own work via self publishing.
This was made even more evident when many of TIME’s editors selected the same books for this list, leading to the decision of highlighting, in addition to the 26 books presented here, one book that we felt stood out amongst the rest: Peter van Agtmael’s Disco Night September 11, which, not only, is an incisive and searing look at the state of America, still caught in maelstroms of war and its aftershocks, but also a distinctly original presentation of documentary work.
Van Agtmael self-published Disco Night September 11, like many of his contemporaries featured here, some of whom turned to crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter to set new records for support, encouraging artists to re-consider the photobook as a primary medium to share their message.
With peers and colleagues around the globe, we sought out to discover new titles and emerging artists presented at events such as the New York Art Book Fair and Offprint Paris, among countless other emerging fairs.
In this gallery, we spotlight the best photobooks of the past year as chosen by photographers and photography experts from around the world and, of course, by our photo editors at TIME. This is not a comprehensive list. Instead, these are personal choices made with the agonizing rule of selecting just one photo book for 2014 in its entirety.
Once again the selection confirms that many of us still enjoy being transfixed, or transported, by an encounter with a singular vision. After all, the pleasure and quiet thrill that one gets sitting down with a good book — especially one that pushes the boundaries of the format — simply can’t be reproduced in mere ones and zeroes.