One of the reasons that I used to buy French PHOTO every issue was their book review. Taschen was quite prolific and so were a couple of French publishers too. Unfortunately, few of those books that I fancied were available here for inspection, and only the German Taschen had a Spanish distributor.
As a result, there was little that the local bookshop, owned by an expat Frenchman, could do to help. Internet? Really? I have been disappointed by so many books that I have actually held in my hands in bookshops and libraries that I simply haven't the confidence in any of the publishers. And I wouldn't like to lumber any small retailer with a refused delivery. Worse, the French chap had to close shop due to lack of business, and yet this corner of the island is reputed to be a cultural hotspot!
One of my joys on holiday drives back to Britain, other than the French parts, was spending a morning or afternoon in Waterstone's, a wonderful bookshop that dealt very competently with photography. I particularly like travel and photographic monographs, but sometimes, the printing quality was quite awful and I simply wouldn't buy. I'm going back maybe nine years now, but even then there seemed to be a rash of published work from people of whom I had never heard and, worse, whose work was, for me, quite abysmal. One book I bought on trust, Sirens of Costasmeralda(sic) was by Marco Glaviano, a snapper whose work I had long admired. The book wasn't yet available in Britain, and an English neighbour who comes out here regularly had a business associate on holiday in Italy. He asked the chap to see if he could find the book there, which he did, and it then came to me via the first friend's family. What a disappointment for troubling so many people! I realised that parts of the same cloud formation had been cloned over numerous photographs, the girls were shot so stiffly and stylistically that they were caricatures (my opinion, naturally) and, all in all, had I seen the thing first, I'd have passed. Worse, it wasn't cheap! ;-)
If you have the luxury of good bookshops in your neck of the woods, rejoice: you are lucky indeed.