It looks like famed bibliophile Nicholas Basbanes and Knopf have put the finishing touches on Basbanes’ long awaited new book “On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History”. It has an official street date of October 15, 2013. Basbanes started researching paper and paper ephemera back in 2005. The new Basbanes book was first mentioned in a CSPAN video interview the author did back in 2008, where he gave the cameras a tour of his home library. The new book is listed at 488 pages with a full retail price of $35.00. Can’t wait to see what it looks like when it comes out this October!
On Tuesday, November 20th, Pat Hall & Jane Newton Henry will be at Reed Books signing their new book Leeds. The 128-page book traces the beginning of the St. Clair county town from the beginning of the 1800′s offering up lots of historical stories and photographs along the way. The book was released in October 2012.
The authors will be at Reed Books from 11:30am until 1:00pm to talk about Leeds and sign copies.
On November 29th, at 4:00 p.m., the Alabama Booksmith will host the launch event for Fading Ads of Birmingham, authored by Charles Buchanan. Buchanan is a magazine editor at UAB, overseeing publications like UAB Medicine, as well as contributing to the flagship read UAB Magazine. Buchanan is also a well respected (and collected) print artist. That’s how I first met him years ago, by buying some of his prints. And it is why I was excited to learn that he was the pen behind this new book about Birmingham and some of its curious and historical artwork decorating the city. Spend five minutes visiting with Buchanan, at one of his shows, and he’ll guide you in a budding appreciation and wonder of all of the cool architectural artifacts in Birmingham’s past. No doubt that sense of story, history and place will come through his 168 page book (sporting 88+ photos).
Buchanan was kind enough to take a few minutes and answer do a quick Q & A, via email.
Q: How did the idea for this book come about?
A: The “ghost signs”–the old faded painted ads seen all around town–have inspired my printmaking for a while. I like the look and feel of the ads, particularly when several are layered on top of one another, and you see bits of all of them at once. In 2010, Birmingham Magazine asked me to write an article about the city’s ghost signs. Less than a year after it was published, The History Press contacted me, asking if I had ever thought about writing a book on the topic. I had thought about it, but I never expected I would be doing it so soon.
Q: How long did it take you to put it together?
A: It took about a year. The research was the most time-consuming part because there’s no direct way to research the ads. The companies–and in most cases, the people–that painted them are long gone, with no records. The ads weren’t intended to be permanent, anyway. I had to dig through lots of city directories, newspapers, maps, and photographs to piece together the stories of the advertised products and services and the buildings and neighborhoods where the ads hang. I ended up finding far more information than I had expected.
Writing the book presented a few challenges as well. I had better luck writing the first draft using pen and paper rather than a computer. That helped me to avoid editing myself too much in the beginning.
Q: Why is it important to chronicle the types of things your book does?
A: In much the same way that archaeologists can tell how people lived centuries ago from shards of pottery, the ghost signs reveal the history of everyday life in Birmingham from the 1880s through the 1980s. The ads tell us what people spent their money on–what they ate, drank, and smoked; where they worked and played; what products and services they thought would improve their lives; and so forth.
Also, these signs have made a good effort at sticking around, but they won’t be here forever. At least one ad featured in the book has already been painted over, and some others will eventually fade in the sun. In a way, the book (which features photos by local photographer Jonathan Purvis) helps us to hold on to the signs.
Q: When someone puts down the book, what is something you are hoping they take away with them?
A: I hope that the book encourages people in Birmingham to explore their own city. There are so many great details, stories, and opportunities to discover when we really pay attention to the buildings, people, and landscapes around us–and much of our history is so visible and accessible. I’ve listed locations for every ad in the book so that readers can go see the signs for themselves, and hopefully that will inspire them to look for other fading ads around town.
I’d also like the book to bring attention to the work of the sign painters who created these ads. Many of them were very talented artists who worked hard in tough conditions and never received much recognition for what they did. And they did everything by hand. Hopefully readers will think about those guys when they walk or drive by a fading ad in the future.
Q: What’s the coolest thing you ran across while writing the book?
A: The ads opened the door to some fascinating pockets of local history that surprised me. For instance, Birmingham was once full of homegrown soft drink companies making all kinds of crazy colas that got regional, national, and even international distribution–things like Celery Cola, Rye-Ola, and Wiseola, which is my favorite because one of its wall ads remains in town. Another sign, for a piano company, helped to reveal Birmingham’s important role in introducing Southern jazz, blues, and gospel music to the nation. I had no idea about these particular aspects of our history before I began researching the ads, and it felt like I was exploring a whole new Birmingham that I never knew existed.
Q: What’s your day job? On twitter? got a site for people to check in on?
A: On Twitter, I’m @cbprints, and my new web site will be up in the next few days at www.cbuchanan.net. The new site includes plenty of book info, including events and places to buy it, as well as a Google map to help people locate the fading ads in the book. My new blog on the site also will have book and art updates–and eventually it will highlight some other local ghost signs that aren’t in the book.
Q: Any parting shots/something you’d like to mention?
A: If anyone has questions about the fading ads once they’ve read the book, I hope they will e-mail me. I’m happy to share what I know about the signs and what they reveal about Birmingham’s history.
If you miss the launch event on November 29th, don’t despair. He will also be doing a book talk and signing at Homewood Public Library on December 6th at 6:30 p.m. As well as a signing at What’s on Second on the evening of December 7.
Two Alabama bookstores are featured in the soon-to-be-released book My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop. Both the Alabama Booksmith and Fairhope’s Page & Palette made the cut! The book, published by Black Dog & Levanthal, hits bookstore shelves on November 13th and is a collection of essays written by famous authors about their favorite bookstore haunts. You can get a preview of the book over on Scribd where the publisher is sharing some essays. Be sure to check out the publisher’s own site as well so you can check the map and add your own favorite bookstore and share your story.
It looks to be a great read of not only some of nation’s neatest local bookstores that writers enjoy, but also dives into WHY they enjoy them. Rick Bragg wrote the feature on the Alabama Booksmith while Fannie Flagg wrote about Page & Palette (where the rumor is she got locked in a closet!?) I hear the book is indeed a true celebration of the impact bookstores have on their communities and the creative readers that pass through the doors. This is one book I am really looking forward to.
Here is a complete listing of all the bookstores and the author’s that wrote about them:
- Fannie Flagg—Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
- Rick Bragg—Alabama Booksmith, Homewood, AL
- John Grisham—That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, AR
- Ron Carlson—Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
- Ann Packer—Capitola Book Café, Capitola, CA
- Isabel Allende—Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
- Mahbod Seraji—Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA
- Lisa See—Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA
- Meg Waite Clayton—Books Inc., San Francisco, CA
- Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown—The Booksmith, San Francisco, CA
- Dave Eggers—Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA
- Pico Iyer—Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara, CA
- Laurie R. King—Bookshop Santa Cruz, CA
- Scott Lasser—Explore Booksellers, Aspen, CO
- Stephen White—Tattered Cover Book Store, Devner, CO
- Kate Niles—Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO
- Ann Haywood Leal—Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
- Florence and Wendell Minor—The Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT
- Rick Atkinson—Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC
- Les Standiford—Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
- Robert Macomber—The Muse Book Shop, Deland, FL
- David Fulmer—Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, GA
- Abraham Verghese—Prairie Lights, Iowa City, IA
- Luis Alberto Urrea—Anderson’s Bookshops, Naperville, IL
- Mike Leonard—The Book Stall Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL
- Albert Goldbarth—Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
- Wendell Berry—Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY
- Edith Pearlman—Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
- Mameve Medwed—Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
- Simon Winchester—The Bookloft, Great Barrington, MA
- Nancy Thayer—Mitchell’s Book Corner, Nantucket, MA
- Elin Hilderbrand—Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, MA
- Jeanne Birdsall—Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, MA
- Martha Ackmann—Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA
- Ward Just—Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA
- Ron Currie, Jr.—Longfellow Books, Portland, ME
- Nancy Shaw—Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI
- Katrina Kittle—Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI
- Ann Patchett—Mclean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI
- Kathleen Finneran—Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO
- Barry Moser—Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS
- Jack Pendarvis—Square Books, Oxford, MS
- Jill McCorkle—Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
- Carrie Ryan—Park Road Books, Charlotte NC
- Laurent Dubois—The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC
- Lee Smith—Purple Crow Books, Hillsborough, NC
- Angela Davis-Gardner—Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC
- Ron Rash—City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC
- Ian Frazier—Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ
- Joan Wickersham—The Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH
- Carmela Ciuraru—Community Bookstore, Brooklyn NY
- Matt Weiland—Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY
- Kate Christensen—Word, Brooklyn, NY
- Mick Cochrane—Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, NY
- Caroline Leavitt—McNally Jackson Books, New York, NY
- Arthur Nersesian—St. Mark’s Bookshop, New York, NY
- Francine Prose & Pete Hamill—Strand Bookstore, New York, NY
- Chuck Palahniuk—Powell’s Books, Portland, OR
- Larry Kane—Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA
- Ann Hood—Island Books, Middletown, RI
- Mindy Friddle—Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
- Adam Ross—Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
- Douglas Brinkley—BookPeople, Austin, TX
- Terry Tempest Williams—The King’s English Book Shop, Salt Lake City, UT
- Robert Goolrick—Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA
- Howard Frank Mosher—Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
- Jon Clinch—Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT
- Jonathan Evison—Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, WA
- Tom Robbins—Village Books, Bellingham, WA
- Sherman Alexie—Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
- Garth Stein—Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
- Ivan Doig—University Book Store, Seattle, WA
- Lesley Kagen—Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI
- Liam Callanan—Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
Here’s one I haven’t read yet (it comes out August 7th, William Morrow/Harper Collins), but I’m pretty excited about it. Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing is a collection of pieces by Neal Stephenson. Much of Stephenson’s new book is non-fiction, but I’ve heard there a couple of short stories as well. In the book Stephenson talks about his geek travels where he travels to far off places just to witness the installation of fiber optic internet connections in some remote pocket of Asia. He also tries to make a case for “modern Jedi knights”, chats metaphysics and technology/freedom vs. the Chinese. So it’s all over the place. Should be fun!
If this book is as detailed and accessible as his fiction, I know it’s one I am going to enjoy.
Anything new coming out that you’re looking forward to?
Here is a great link for folks in the Birmingham-area to bookmark. It’s a handy collection of lists showing you the most recent books, dvd’s, eBooks, audiobooks, etc. available for check out from local libraries. The lists are maintained by the Birmingham Central Library, Hoover Library, Vestavia Library and the Botanical Garden branch.
For the most part they are updated about twice a month. So it’s a good place to check on the 1st and 16th of each month to see if there is something new you’d like to read. Of course, being in the JCLC system, if you see something you like you can always have it requested and shipped to the closest library branch to you.
The new tech news/culture site Pando Daily is a daily read for me and I’ve been keeping up with founder Sarah Lacy since reading her book Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good a couple of years ago. They’ve done a great job of sourcing and surfacing interesting pieces. On top of that, they have a pretty solid editorial process. All of which adds up to . . . publishing. Which is why no one should be surprised they have just released their first eBook: Buy This Book Before You Buy Facebook. It’s priced at $3.99 and, so far, is only available on the Kindle platform. I do hope they share their thought process on why “just Kindle”. I’m guessing it’s either revenue related or they felt the Amazon tools were better to self-publish with. But whatever the reasons, there are lessons here for every publisher. Below is a quick rundown of the four points they got right and the one they missed:
1. Identify your silo/niche/subject and position yourself as a category expert. General publishing is in for a world of hurt over the next few years. There is a reason why we’ve seen some big publishers this year launching new imprints. This is something that needs to be considered at the publisher, series, author and title levels.
2. Build a community and engage daily. Things like brand, sales, followers, etc. will all flow from this. Pando Daily is nearing 20k followers on Twitter, which is where they first announced the eBook. In just 12 hours, their ebook moved up from a sales rank of #4,871 to #672 in the Kindle store. And that was overnight. This a function of building the community first and then tapping into it.
3. Pay attention to the news cycle and have tools in place to allow you to collect around a specific topic. It’s no coincidence that they are releasing this Facebook IPO eBook today. Traditional book publishing has been good at this… looking long term. But not so good at building books that repsond in the short term. That will have t change. Ten years ago, only marketers thought about the news cycle. Now publishers, acquisitions editors, authors and product folks need to pay attention.
4. Build your product and add value. Do not just collect all of your posts from one category and call it an ebook. You need to add something else. Make it worth your community’s time. For this product they gathered the folks who have been posting about Facebook and asked for some exclusive essays on the topic. And it can’t have been too much trouble for them as the eBook is only about 74 pages. They also had a solid cover design done. All of which add value. This is something the Pando Daily folks clearly understood bringing extra publishing help from the NSFW Corporation news magazine start-up.
5. Promote and sell where your community is. This is the one they missed. I can’t find the book on Kobo, Nook, Google, etc. By restricting to one platform they are allowing a third-party’s technology, accounts, payment processing and walls to restrict their content. I hope they take the time to build an ePub so they can push their book out on more channels.
I hope publishers everywhere are watching outfits like Pando Daily. They are fast. They have low overhead. They are sharp. And they are fighting for the same eyeballs, dollars and readers that traditional book publishers are.
It is 11pm and I just checked out a book from my local library.
This week the JCLC system turned on its Overdrive-powered eBook network. So far it’s very very cool. The only complaints I have are tied to the CRAZY complicated hoops Adobe Digital Editions (which you will have to download) has in place. But that’s no fault of the library system and is required by most publishers anyway. But once you get the Adobe Digital Editions set up right, it’s great.
Via my JCLC account, I have “checked out” an eBook and am reading it on both my laptop and on my desktop. I have not tried to put it on my Sony eReader yet, as it needs a new battery and won’t hold a charge (yeah yeah, I know. That’s not a problem people reading print books have, but hey… did I mention, I just checked out a book at 11pm!) Anyway….
Here is the one tip I can offer: Once you download your eBook file (it has a .acm extension), “right click” (or ctrl-click) and choose “Open With…” and navigate to Adobe Digital Editions. The permission drm-wrapped file that is downloaded is not a straight up ePub and this seems to work better than opening Adobe Digital Editions and trying to import the .acm file into the library.
Cool factoids of the new system:
- You get to choose your “check out period”. You elect 7 days, 14 days or 21 days at checkout.
- You can checkout up to 5 titles at a time
- Every digital file has icons showing which platforms/devices that book can be read on
- So far there are 477 fiction books and 435 non-fiction books listed
The eBooks are not Kindle-friendly nor iDevice-friendly, but here is a list of all compatible devices. I’m going to take a look at checking out books to the Sony Reader and various iDevices.
Kudos to the JCLC System in bringing another great service to us. You guys really are something Birmingham can brag about.
So I downloaded the free Barnes & Nobel eReader 1.0 this morning, to check it out. I’m on a Mac and was glad to see that B&N rolled out versions of the readers for iPhone, Blackberry, PC and Mac all at the same time. That’s a good move.
The first thing I tried to do was open some pdf’s, mobi, epub and prc files…
Blogs I Like
- Alabama Booksmith
- B’ham Public Library
- Book Chase
- Book Patrol
- Bookshelf Porn
- Exile Bibliophile
- Fine Books Blog
- Loud poet
- Nathalie Foy
- Oh My Godwin!
- Reed Next’s Next Read
- Turn the Page
- AL.com Books
- AL.com Books Forum
- Alabama Center for the Book
- Alabama Writers' Forum
- Bham Wiki
- Book TV
- Menasha Ridge Press
- The Literacy Council
- Book Art
- Book Collecting
- Book Column
- Book Covers
- Book Design
- Book Reviews
- Book Sale
- Book Talk
- Bookstore Ideas
- Digital Publishing
- Free Books
- Friday Finds
- Gifts for Book People
- New Releases
- On the TV
- On the Web
- Publishing Industry News
- Site News
- Tools for Readers
- Upcoming Titles