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August 29, 2011

I have in my possession four self-published books. The book is not dead. More were published last year in the U.S. than ever before.

Not only is the book alive, so is the printed book. I don’t think we’re near the end of its life, as the more frantic futurists predict, but it will have to share the world with the digital book.

The sales of e-books grew 1,000% from 2008 to 2010 but accounted for only $878 million out of $28 billion in book sales. Still, you can see where the trend is going.

These self-published books in hand are by Arlene Shovald, familiar to many if not most of you; Phillip Benningfield, familiar to any of you who frequent Café Dawn; and Francesco Gallo of Italy, who might be familiar to those of you interested in local history.

Dr. Gallo has nursed a text about a particular part of the history of Italian immigrants in Salida into a substantial piece of local history full of photos, names, and data. The library has hosted several versions of the work online on our archive website.

It’s called “The Lago-Salida Connection: Pioneers from Lago to Salida.” We don’t have the current version to post online yet, but Dr. Gallo sent us some printed copies. Over the couple-few years of posting his continually updated history online, he’s received a few complaints that many of the Salidans interested in his history don’t use the Internet or computers.

Now that the work is substantially completed, he had a few copies printed in Italy and sent us fifteen to sell to interested parties for $13, more than $3 of which reflects shipping. Pretty good price, really, for all that work.

At some point, Dr. Gallo will send us the new full-color version to put on the archive website again.

Dr. Arlene Shovald turned her doctoral thesis into an accessible book about the healing power of dreams, “Let Your Dreams Be Your Doctor: Using dreams to diagnose and treat physical and emotional problems.”

The chapters titles include: “Doctors who don’t speak your language,” “Setting the scene for our dreaming,” “Dream enhancers,” “Nightmare experiences,” and so on.  Arlene includes a short list of references at the end.

I imagine this book will be popular, even though many people don’t remember their dreams. Enough do. Arlene has advice about how to pay attention to your dreams, and to enhance them. They are not completely outside our control.

Not-Dr. Phillip Benningfield is an owner of Café Dawn in downtown Salida, where it was evident from the beginning he knew his way around the equipment. The technology of a modern coffee shop rivals that of a chemistry lab.

His new book, “The Dark Roast: Coffeeshop Confidential,” collects stories from his years—I suppose now we should say decades—in the U.S. coffee culture. The subtitle echoes the expose tone of a popular kitchen writer, and the title echoes the writer’s mind.

Right now, reading the book is getting in the way of writing this, so I’ll say in blurb-ese that it is a Hunter S. Thompson-esque examination of the barista life.

We also added Phillip’s 2003 novel, “The cry of them,” described as a novel of teenage angst.

Modern publishing technology that has permitted the self-publishing revolution will play a role beside the revolution of digital books. We’ve already had requests for books that exist only as e-books for the Amazon Kindle. A future improvement will allow those same books to be available in print via print-on-demand technology.


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