What does seem to be true is that little photobooks, the bread and butter of the occasionally rapacious small-publishing-house industry, are almost invariably well received by the people who review them. Possibly because the only people who review these things are on the inside of that incestuous little universe, but that's just speculation.
Let's take a look at HORIZONT reviewed on the always-hilarious American Suburb X, which review you can read here.
I won't bother with the whole review, except to note that the reviewer seems to like this singularly unlikeable book, and to poke at a few of the more absurd lines.
This sort of space doesn’t respond readily to the camera’s propensity for order, and Ashkin’s photographs play on its strange, disorienting quality, looking up past the tops of buildings, peering out from behind knots of vegetation, gazing dully at the ground.
As far as I can discern, none of the cameras I own have any propensity for order. Perhaps the author means that photographers and photography do, with using the word "camera" metonymically? In that case I suggest that she needs to get out more. Frankly, there is a great deal of Serious Art as well as vernacular photography that looks a lot like this hot mess.
There’s a kind of deadpan anarchy about places like these, patchworked together out of remnants and interstices that capitalist development can’t easily assimilate.
While I have to admire the author's touching naivete about what capitalism can or cannot easily assimilate, this whole sentence is nonsense. It's just ugly cement buildings and generalized urban stuff. Eastern Europe has a lot of ugly cement, I am informed. There's a fair bit of this in the USA, actually. Some of those buildings remind by of UMass, Amherst.
And so on, on and on. I should at this point direct you to some remarks and some work I find myself coming back to from time to time: Vernacular Enigma. These pictures are much the same sort of thing, but are all shot in the USA, so much for the specialness of East Berlin.
To be honest, on roughly alternate days I am convinced that American Suburb X (ASX) is actually a joke, a sort of extended performance art piece. Sadly, on all the other days I realize that this sort of gibberish is all too prevalent, and that ASX is just another manifestation of the same stuff masquerading as serious writing.
Actually, I have just remembered another negative photobook review, also from ASX: SHIT but to be honest this seems to be mostly rage at the book's author, and the largest complaint from the reviewer is about someone else's analysis of the book as having something to do with homosexuality.
Ok so maybe not all photobook reviews are positive. It just seems like I keep running a lot of lazy little positive plugs.