Steidl is a German-language publisher, an international publisher of photobooks, and a printing company, based in Göttingen, Germany.
The company was started by Gerhard Steidl (b. 1950). Gerhard Steidl's impetus for a career in printing came when, as a teenager, one of his photographs was used in a poster advertising a production of Brecht's Mann ist Mann. The printing company did what the boy thought was a poor job; he suggested printing the sheet twice, the company agreed to do so in order to get rid of him, and his idea worked fairly well.
The company's first book was Befragung der Documenta (1972).
From 1974, [Gerhard] Steidl added political non-fiction to his program. In the early 1980s, he expanded into literature and selected art and photography books, and in 1989, he published his first paperback editions. [...] In 1996, Steidl finally decided to follow his passion for photography and to start his own internationally oriented photo book program.
Gerhard Steidl still heads the company and is in charge of the production of every book. He endeavours to follow the preferences of the particular photographer for layout, paper, and binding, and insists on working with paper, because of the importance of the feel of the book and the difference between backlighting and reflected light. Printing, binding and all other work is done within a four-storey house on Düstere Strasse in Göttingen.
The number of titles produced by Steidl is unusually large for an art publisher: about three hundred a year.
Gerhard Steidl produces special editions, but prefers what he calls "'democratic books' or more 'prêt à porter' books", books that can freely be reprinted if the demand for them is sufficient.
From 2009 to 2010, the Musée de l'Élysée (Lausanne) held an exhibition, The Fine Art and Craft of the Steidl Book, Lasting Impressions.
Steidl was the topic of a 2010 documentary, How to Make a Book with Steidl.