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JOEL Joel's Blog

How to Pre-Sell a New Book in 1879


How to Pre-Sell a New Book in 1879 4
We have two new important books on woodworking coming out in the next weeks. One is Chris Schwarz's book "The Anachist's Tool Box". You can read the details about it and order here. The other, "Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint - Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes") is a groundbreaking book on traditional finishes by Stephen Shepherd. (update: the Shepherd book is currently out of print).

However this blog isn't really about the books. It's about pre-sales. We figure that lots of people will want the books as soon as they comes out so the way we sell something new is by putting out a blog entry and taking orders before we actually have the item in hand. This isn't a new idea. As a matter of fact, our method, a couple of web pages and an order entry system is a pretty crude way of doing it.

The right way? Let me say two words: "Engraved Invitation". That's what my mom would say when I was late for dinner. "Where were you? Do you need an engraved invitation?" (I'm writing this on Mother's day).

I had never seen a 19th century engraved invitation for a pre-sale of a book until now. Folded into a recently acquired catalog from Holtzapffel & Co., the premier London hardware store of the 19th century were two copies of an engraved invitation in wonderful copperplate for their latest book. It's 1879 and the book is the forth volume in Holtzapffel 's masterwork series "Turning and Manipulation" , this being "Plain or Simple Turning." In the photograph above is a copy of the invite, the catalog which I found it in, and a copy of the original edition (2nd printing from 1881 - the first printing was 1000 copies) and my Dover reprint. If you want to read a clean copy of the offer you can download a pdf of the it here.

Okay, the invite doesn't have the details about the new book. Do we care? No - we were going to get it anyway. It's printed on a really high grade paper that hasn't begun to yellow even a bit in over one hundred and twenty five years. The book itself is a classic and we still stock it in softcover here.

By the way the new Festool CXS drill is coming out June 1. More on that later.

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05/19/2011 staggerlee
I've read the preview chapters of Mr. Schwartz' new book, and I think your characterization of "important new book" is incorrect. The important fact about the book is that it's new, which will likely spark interest. However the actual content of the book is not so important in my estimation. The pertinent question is whether or not an enthusiastic hobbyist, or historian be excited in 100 years to 'rediscover' this book and have it republished? Only time will tell.
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