Today's "Golden Era"
Mar/Apr 2019 edition
Issue #4 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Sometimes we look back in time at what we perceive to be the “Golden Era” without giving credit to the present. Today is truly a “Golden Era” in book publishing. On both sides of the Atlantic, fine books of the highest quality in content and presentation are being published on unexpected, but worthy subjects. Dalton Watson, Coachbuilt Press, David Bull, ETAI, and others to name a few have brought us many fine offerings, though the biggest surprises have been from individuals self-publishing exceptional books on their specialty. The best of these books are tightly focused and go into extreme depth. One of which is “Warbaby, the True Story of the Original Jeep” by William Spear. He chronicles the conception and execution of the Jeep in 372 pages. This book will appeal to historians of both the Jeep and WW II. If you want one, act now as the author/publisher advises supply is short. $75 from wmspear.com.
Print-on-demand encourages authors to self-publish manuscripts in small quantities that would otherwise never be seen. Titles on obscure makes and racing circuits, and consumer-oriented books on muscle-era specialty tuners, noteworthy drag racing teams and almost any mechanical specialty that you can imagine.
I won’t blame it all on the internet, but it played a part. As costs escalated, the discounts, and ease of internet ordering virtually eliminated the traditional path, and no centralized distributor could afford to stock all titles at price-competitive levels. Today we no longer have one central source where all titles can be compared in a concise, readable format. To keep up with new titles we now must search all sorts of sources. Good book reviews can be found in British monthly car magazines, the Society of Automotive Historians magazine, a few domestic car magazines, and in various marque club publications. Some can also be found online, but you have to search.
Further discouraging the casual customer is that few of these good new books are found in a retail environment where you can see, touch, and read a few pages before you commit to buy. There are a few specialty stores sprinkled around the globe, but most of the serious specialty automotive book dealers such as Hortons Books, GoMotorbooks, and Vintage Motorbooks (that’s me) are to be found at various car shows, vintage races, swap meets, and specialty shows.
I love books! They are invaluable, and the many good ones offer great information and photos, which cannot be found anywhere on the internet. I buy/collect, and search for the best. Logan won’t say this, but I will…. Forget about chains like Barnes & Noble, unless you’re looking for a repair manual on a tractor. If you want real books, excellent selection, and the best, then I suggest you focus on looking to specialists such as the ones Logan has mentioned. That’s what I’ve done!
To read more great columns like this one from automotive book expert Logan Gray...
Vintage Auto Books
Logan Gray has been the owner of Vintage Motorbooks since 1980 and he shares his candid observations about Vintage Automotive books in this column.