Archive for August, 2011

A quake and a hurricane in one week!

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m sure you have heard about the dramatic weather we’ve been having here on the East Coast. It all began last Tuesday when we experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. The quake happened a little before 2pm when I was coming back inside from my lunch break. As I was approaching the building, I noticed three of my co-workers standing outside next to a few others from neighboring businesses. I found it strange that so many folks were standing outside in the middle of the day, until I approached and quickly realized they were all outside because we had just experienced an earthquake. “What!” I exclaimed. “Are you kidding?” Much to my disbelief, they weren’t kidding. And even more to my disbelief, I hadn’t felt a thing! (The rate at which I was walking must have been faster than the rate of the quake) Now, while I didn’t personally experience the rumbling and rocking, my coworkers inside the building surely had, and they were all a little shocked when bookcases began swaying back and forth with books almost hopping off the shelves. Thankfully, no one was hurt and no damage was to be had on our store or the books.

It was only a few days after the earthquake that mother nature decided to shake us up again with Hurricane Irene. Making its large path across the East Coast, Irene began pouring down rain early Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the baseball book signing and exhibition that we were supposed to hold at The Bookshop in Old New Castle had to be cancelled, and it wasn’t until Sunday, after many inches of rain and very large wind gusts, that the hurricane subsided. While many businesses and homes did get flooded out, Oak Knoll and The Bookshop in Old New Castle both remained dry and damage-free. We were extremely thankful for that, and happy to see the sun again by the next day.

All this crazy weather has definitely created more chatter around the office, but we are still hoping that we get through this next week without any more weather drama. We also hope that all of our customers and fellow booksellers got as lucky as us experiencing very little negative effects. Best wishes to all for a beautiful-weather week,


Binding of The Thread that Binds

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out this great article by Jana Pullman explaining the steps she went through to bind the unbound sheets of The Thread that Binds by Pamela Train Leutz. Pullman explains how she chose the leathers, dyed the skins, and worked with Karen Hanmer following the binding techniques in Fine Bookbinding: A Technical Guide by Jen Lindsay. Her blog post is illustrated with great photos of her work, showing the wonderful details of how she created an awesome binding. Her finished product was displayed at the Lone Star Chapter of the Build of Book Workers 2011 shows in Dallas and Houston, Texas.

Click here for more on The Thread that Binds and click here to read the full article. Nice work, Jana!

John Piper book featured on Fine Books & Collections blog

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Beautifully produced in a striking and appealing format, John Piper in the Watkinson: An Illustrated Checklist contains a letterpress-printed cover, many illustrations, and a catalogue of the work of British architectural and topographical artist John Piper. An excellent article on the book was recently featured on the Fine Books & Collections blog. Click here to view the article, and click here for more information on the book.

The Hemingway Bibliography Debut at Lemuria Bookstore

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography by Edgar C. Grissom can succinctly be described as the culmination of all previous endeavors in Hemingway bibliography. Correcting the work of previous bibliographers, it adds numerous editions and printings to the periods they covered and addresses the years 1975-2009, which had previously been left untouched.

Check out this post on the Lemuria Bookstore Blog about the debut of Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography at the Lemuria shop. Grissom has been a lifelong customer of Lemuria, as well as an avid collector of Ernest Hemingway for fifty years. Celebrating his new publication and his years of hard work and research, the article talks about Grissom’s own collection and the steps he went through in publishing his book.

Click here to read the article and click here for more information on Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography.

Designing Dust Jackets

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the best things about working for a small company like Oak Knoll is the opportunity to do a little bit of everything (also see Rob’s post on photography!). In addition to the day-to-day tasks involved with my job as publishing director, like drafting contracts, checking proofs, and correspondence with authors, editors, and designers, I occasionally have the chance to try my hand at some design work. This summer in particular, I’ve been able to get my creative juices flowing by designing dust jackets for two of our upcoming titles, Arthur Miller: A Descriptive Bibliography and Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly.

At Oak Knoll, every project is different in terms of schedule, budget, and project logistics. Sometimes our authors design their own jackets, sometimes we hire freelance designers who do the book and jacket design, and sometimes we have the privilege of doing it ourselves, in house. While I have no formal training in graphic design, I’ve picked up a lot of tips during my time at Oak Knoll as I’ve reviewed and imitated the work of more experienced designers. The two jackets below were a lot of fun for me to work on. Let me know what you think!

– Laura Williams, Publishing Director

Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly

Arthur Miller: A Descriptive Bibliography

Arthur Miller: A Descriptive Bibliography

How Oak Knoll acquired the Indian Type collection from Arivind Patel

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Arivind Patel owned a type foundry in India and occasionally bought books from Oak Knoll. About six years ago, I received a beautifully hand-written letter from him with an enclosed catalogue of his books. His letter stated that he was getting along in years and now wanted to sell his collection. I looked over the catalogue and found some interesting items, in addition to the more common books on typography and printing. If the collection had been located in the United States, I would have offered to come view the books and make an offer. But what was I to do with a collection in India and the great potential for condition problems? After pondering over the collection for a week or so, I wrote back to him and said that in all fairness, I could not make him an offer without seeing the books, and they weren’t going to be worth enough for me to visit him in India. Off went the letter, and I placed the catalogue in my files, along with its brothers and sisters in the archives of collections never bought by Oak Knoll.

Fast forward five years – then the phone call came. “Mr. Fleck – the books are now in New Jersey, as my grandfather sent them to me for you to view.” My son and I drove to look at the books, made a fair offer, and now here they are in our collection. Although there was some damage, most had been preserved because they were wrapped in clear plastic to keep the insects away. In addition to the collection, there were a number of letters from all others who corresponded with him about type and specimens. The letters went to an institution, and I am sure he will be pleased to see his material go out to other collectors.



Click here to view the collection.

How to Photograph Rare Books

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

This week Rob wrote a blog post about Oak Knoll’s new method of photography and our efforts to preserve and capture each book’s condition as best as possible. Check out another similar article on Yale University’s Bibliofile site that provides a training manual on how to handle rare books and other works on paper when photographing them. The article explains how to meet libraries’ preservation aims, while still meeting the needs of researchers. It is illustrated with many great photographs from Yale’s Medical Historical and Law Libraries.

Click here to read the full article.

A review and a catalogue mention in Fine Books Notes

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The August issue of Fine Books Notes has an excellent review of David Pearson’s revised edition of Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts.

What do books offer us, beyond words, and how do their physical formats and design characteristics contribute to their overall impact? Where do we draw the line between the book as a text and the book as an object, something which cannot be entirely replicated by transferring the content to another medium?”

David Pearson, Director of Libraries, Archives, and Guildhall Art Gallery at the City of London, presents this set of questions and then explores the various ways that physical books speak to those who will listen—through the way they are printed, illustrated, bound, annotated, altered, or defaced. It is a topic of obvious importance to historians, curators, librarians, and book collectors, but also one that is becoming ever more crucial to a wider audience of people concerned with the idea of ‘libraries without books,’ and physical books versus e-books. Pearson persuades us that it is time to separate books from texts, and let them go their merry ways.

Click here to read more.

In addition, the newsletter also mentions our Catalogue 297 in the catalogues received section. Catalogue 297 is another that contains our new method of photography, displaying beautiful black-and-white images.

Click here to check out the new issue of Fine Books Notes.

“It’s important to show the books in as much detail as possible.”

August 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently, Oak Knoll has been going through some changes, some of them more noticeable than others. One of these changes is in the way we take our images. Just under a year ago, I purchased a used Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm kit lens at a great price, which I intended to use for personal photography. I thought that it would be a neat item to take on trips, book fairs, holidays, you name it. After becoming somewhat familiar with it, I decided to try it out on a few books here at the shop. To my surprise, they came out much better than any of our previous images did before.

So about two months ago, after showing these images to people around the office, I finally offered the camera to Oak Knoll to use for taking our everyday pictures, as well as fine photography for catalogues. Based on customer feedback about our most recent catalogue, it’s been one of the most noticeable changes to happen to Oak Knoll in a long time. Click here to view a PDF our most recent catalogue.

As most antiquarian booksellers will tell you, when condition means everything, it’s important to show the books in as much detail as possible. It turns out this new camera is exactly what we needed.


Click here to view Special Catalogue 17 and click here to view Catalogue 297. Both include our new photography.