Friday, January 06, 2006

Fishing expedition

Yikes--it's been a few weeks since my last post. (Now doesn't that sound confessional?) Sorry for not keeping things fresher. The holidays got the better of me, and I'm only now getting caught up. Ironic, isn't it, how much work goes into--and comes out of--trying to take a little break? Sigh.

Anyway, I have a teaching leave this semester. With it I'm gearing up to complete my book manuscript about how the book industry changed (and remained the same) in the 20th and 21st centuries, Equipment for Living: Everyday Book Culture in the Late Age of Print. You can read more about the book by clicking on this link to my website:

I'm writing today because I'm bogged down in historical minutiae--important historical minutiae. More specifically, I'm in the process of researching two figures who, I imagine, most of you have never heard of but who nonetheless were key shapers of the book industry we now know: Charles Montgomery (C.M.) Barnes, one of the progenitors of the Barnes & Noble bookselling chain; and Orion Howard (O.H.) Cheney, who conducted the first systematic economic survey of the book industry's structure and functioning.

I know it's a long, long, longshot, but if any of you reading this have any information on these fellows, or know of good sources that might turn up some leads, I'd appreciate hearing from you. You will, of course, get an acknowledgment in my book!

Happy New Year to all of you reading D & R. More to come. . . .

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