After six years working here in the publishing department at Oak Knoll, the time has come for me to say goodbye. My last day as the Oak Knoll publishing director will be November 21. I am about to start a new adventure: parenthood! My husband and I will be adopting a baby soon, so I am taking a few years off from full-time publishing work to take on something that is totally different, but probably equally challenging. I’m also planning to stay busy doing some freelance editing as well as working part-time as a bookkeeper for my church.
I have learned so much in my time at Oak Knoll, about books and also about work in general, since this was my first job out of college. Thank you, all of you, for making it such a pleasant and valuable experience.
Bob Fleck, president and founder of Oak Knoll, will be taking over the publishing director responsibilities himself, so please contact him at email@example.com if you have any questions about the transition or about any future projects.
All the best,
Bailey and I had a great time representing Oak Knoll at the Ladies of Letterpress Conference last weekend. We learned a lot, admired beautiful examples of printing (and even bought a few!), met some nice people, and ate some great food. It was our first time in Asheville, and we loved the city. We will have to go back when we have more time!
Here are some of the pictures we took at the conference:
Thank you to the Ladies of Letterpress for putting on such a great event. We look forward to seeing you again in October for Oak Knoll Fest!
~ Laura Williams
A few months ago, we put out a call for manuscripts in our monthly email newsletter, and we were overwhelmed by the response. It is good to be reminded of how many people are still hard at work writing books about books. Since then, we’ve received suggestions for several bibliographies, books on how to do book collecting, printing history of various parts of the world, and more! So keep an eye out for some great new titles to be published in the next few years.
I also wanted to let you know that we are still (always!) looking for more. I am especially interested in seeing more books on topics like bookbinding and papermaking (either history or how-to), as well as typography and book design. So please keep them coming!
Oak Knoll is excited to kick off 2012 with a set of New Year’s resolutions. We have each taken time to think of ways we can improve over the next year, and we wanted to share our ideas with you. Check out what we plan to do in the upcoming year.
Ah, there are so many that I should have made but didn’t. At least I haven’t broken any of them yet.
I need to learn to smile when a person is standing in my book store and asks “Do you buy books?” I guess they think that my books breed with each other in the late evening hours.
I need to learn to smile when the phone caller asks me the value of a book that has been in the family for decades but they can’t remember the full title or author. Bless Jim Hinck and vialibri.net as now I can just recommend that they visit that site.
I need to learn to smile when the person on the phone says that the book must go out that day, as it is a birthday present for his or her husband/wife/child in two days hence. Nothing like advance planning!
But wait – I’m actually smiling all the time because I have the greatest group here at Oak Knoll and have loved being a bookseller for 35 years. I smile when I come to work – how many people can say that?
Rob Fleck (Antiquarian & Library Sales)
Last year, we purchased two exciting collections from two long-time Oak Knoll customers. These collections helped make 2011 a great year for us and for you, our customers, by adding many important and rare books to our inventory. Our main goal for 2012 is to branch out to individuals or institutions that have collections that they would be willing to part with. We hope that 2012 will be the year of collection acquisition for Oak Knoll. It’s actually all very exciting to me! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a collection that you’d like us to see.
This year I would like to discover more manuscripts and encourage more potential authors to write new books on the history of the book. We are particularly interested in new manuscripts on bookbinding, book collecting, printing, and typography, but please feel free to propose any project that could be considered a “book about books.” If you have a manuscript or a book idea, please check out our website and send me an email at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to contact me! I also plan to continue on the tradition of being the Oak Knoll party planner (or as Bob calls it “the Oak Knoll social butterfly”), as it’s one of my favorite roles here at work.
Danielle Burcham (Publishing and Marketing Assistant)
It’s been almost two years since I started working at Oak Knoll, and I have learned quite a bit since my first day! While at first it seemed like it took all my time just to learn the ins and outs of the book business, this year I plan to really focus my attention on expanding our audiences. This means finding new businesses and individuals who would have an interest in our books but haven’t yet heard of us. I hope to find more organizations and journals who would like to review our books, and I plan on using our social media platforms to facilitate this. If you haven’t hopped on the social media train yet, what are you waiting for? Follow us through facebook, twitter, and our blog. There is a lot to learn about us just through these sites alone!
While I will continue to maintain my responsibilities cataloging books, taking photographs (in our new and updated style), and providing customer service, I also plan to use my research skills to help our publishing department. I will explore library holdings and assist libraries in finding titles to add to their collections, while also finding new groups who might have an interest in our titles. I may even get more involved with our shipping department, helping to pull and pack books. I guess you could say I have my hand in a little bit of everything that goes on here at Oak Knoll.
Considering that I was raised in the image of Mary Poppins, (you know, “Practically Perfect in Every Way”), I failed to see the need for any New Year’s Resolutions. Fortunately, my colleagues quickly disabused me of that notion, so here I sit pondering my role at Oak Knoll and trying to understand how I can make your interactions with us the best possible. First of all, I will put a smile on my face before answering the phone. I once read that this simple action carries through in your voice, making it more welcoming. I will also try to remember if it is morning or afternoon, although I don’t seem to have much luck with that as frequent callers can attest. Yes, I’m the one who says Good…with a long pause…before the next words are out of my mouth. Maybe, I should just say “Hello?”
All kidding aside, each one of us here understands that without the support and patronage of our bibliophile friends, Oak Knoll would be no more than a memory. We come to work every day enthused and convinced that we will either help one of you find that long desired treasure, get the newly required text book for your latest class, or finally see your name in print as the author of a scholarly text. So, bring on 2012! We welcome it and you with smiles on our faces.
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
The future of the book has been the subject of many stimulating conversations in the Williams household. As the publishing director for Oak Knoll Press, I am invested in the plight of the physical book. Not only do we publish high-quality printed books at Oak Knoll, but we publish on the history of the book, celebrating the book as an object valuable for its history and artistic qualities. In contrast, my husband Ian is a computer programmer who enjoys being a part of an industry working to make the world more digital and electronic. He argues that the printed book will be eventually replaced by a free and open pool of information available electronically.
Yet, both of us can see the other side to a certain extent. Neither of us owns a specialized e-reader, but we both have downloaded the Kindle app on our smartphones. While I still prefer reading a paperback to reading on my phone, I can’t argue with the convenience of always having a book with me (as I’m never far from my phone). The fact that so many of my favorite classics are available for free is a benefit that is hard to turn down. And Ian, while he argues that the information is the only important part and that the delivery mechanism is irrelevant, is surprisingly protective of his books and has been known to berate me for dog-earing the pages.
Ian likes to refer to printed media as “the manual transmission” of communication. Like an automatic transmission, the e-book has advantages in terms of convenience. And yet, automatic transmissions have been available for more than fifty years, and still a sizeable percentage of the population prefers to do the shifting themselves. I think that books are the same—readers will opt for the superior reading experience (the manual transmission) over the convenience (the automatic transmission). In fact, I think that true book lovers will be driven to an even greater appreciation for books as objects, as they start to notice things that they had taken for granted, such as high-quality materials and typography.
So I see a future where e-books and traditional books co-exist comfortably, side-by-side. The advantages of an e-book will make it the convenient choice in many circumstances, but it will not soon replace the tactile experience and the pride of ownership that a physical book elicits.
We recently announced that Line, Shade and Shadow: The Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings by Lois Price won the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize. It was chosen as the most significant contribution to the intellectual vitality of historic preservation in America. A book of this excellence takes years of research and work. Read about Lois Price and her journey in creating such a fascinating work.
This book began with a search for information that was not there. As a paper conservator working at a busy regional conservation center, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia, I never knew what kind of material would appear on my roster of treatments, and it was impossible to ignore the increasing number of architectural drawings and blueprints that entered the lab in the late 1980s. The wonderful images, unfamiliar materials, and mysterious reprographic processes piqued my curiosity. They reawakened a somewhat dormant interest in architecture that began in my undergraduate days during a course in American art, continuing through my senior honors thesis on American architecture and even into a few additional graduate courses. Interest renewed, I began a largely unsuccessful search of secondary sources looking for information about materials and techniques. Collection curators had some answers but not in the depth and detail I needed. Architects were distinctly uninterested in discussing the craft of creating their drawings, though I learned a lot about design theories, competitions, and the big one that got away. And so, the odyssey through original source material— drawings, trade catalogs, builders and drafters manuals, and technical treatises on the manufacture of specialty materials, began.
Fast forward a decade and a half through many libraries, a job change, several research grants to a manuscript, and a list of possible illustrations, and enter Oak Knoll Press in the person of John Von Hoelle. He had much encouragement and a commitment for publication. Little did I know that another odyssey was just beginning. With Oak Knoll’s encouragement, the list of possible illustrations grew to over 350, including images that illustrated every facet of the text. Securing them and writing the captions was a huge and time consuming challenge that took almost five years, but thanks to the wonders of digital photography and the generosity of several institutions, particularly the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, everything finally came together. If you can call a motley collection of black and white prints, color transparencies, 35mm slides, and a large stack of CDs, together.
When my manuscript was finally ready for editing, Laura Williams took on the task, and began making sense of the daunting stack of images. She patiently saw the manuscript through two rounds of copy editing and finally typesetting and design. That first look at the text in print and the stunning design will remain a memorable moment. Next, we traversed several rounds of galley proofs as I fretted about typos, color accuracy, and image resolution. The best part of the editing and publication process, of course, was the need to visit Oak Knoll in New Castle on a regular basis and peruse the bookshelves. I occasionally brought my students and we never left empty handed.
I still see the transformation of my initial vision of what we needed to know about architectural drawings to a beautifully printed book as rather miraculous. Oak Knoll is a small press and things do take time, but there is a real commitment to working with the author and getting it right. For that I am extremely grateful.
We want to congratulate Lois Price again on winning the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize. We are excited to see all of her hard work pay off!
Click here for more information on Line, Shade and Shadow.