I can understand this point to an extent. The problem is that it appears to assume that photo books operate in a singular way. Not every photo book is, attempts to be, or even wants to be a collection of great photographs, nor should it. Maybe that was the idea in 1960 but there are so many other methods of publishing available today that the format itself can and is manipulated to suit other ways of thinking. A book is not always a grand gesture.
As someone who is self-publishing their first book project very soon I will unapologetically say that not every photograph in that book is a great photograph, and it never was supposed to be. I hope the book as a whole is interesting and if not I accept that as my failure, but to be judged on a singular photograph taken out of context? No. That’s not the point. Not every sentence in a great novel will necessarily stand alone. To ignore that a photograph in a book depends on the context of the the other content in the book is a shortsighted point of view. I have books that are full of great photographs that I seldom look at, because I think that they don’t function well as books.
For myself, the book itself is the thing, not just the pictures in the book. It’s no more egotistical to put out a book than it is to make a print and put it on a wall, or to make a post to tumblr attached with your name. It’s just another way of saying "I’m here and this is what I want to say"
Sure, the act of showing your art, in any way, is arguably intertwined with the ego, but that’s not special to the book. Maybe I’m not old enough to be cynical about the form yet, but fuck this viewpoint. Make the shit you want to make. Yes, do us a favor and don’t litter the world with ill-considered, off-the-cuff, shallow work - but if it’s a project you put a lot of time and effort and deliberation into? Don’t let anyone stop you. And if it sucks, learn from the experience and make it better next time.