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PPN Legacy – The Very Early Years Part 2

by Bill Ralph

The following is a continuation of an article tracing the history of the Bookbuilders West newsletter, written by its first editor, Charles Goehring, that appeared in the spring 2005 issue:

News for the newsletter was hard to come by in those early days. The easiest news to supply was that for the People Going Places feature. That’s because the industry was growing rapidly on the West Coast: Publishers were establishing or expanding offices, suppliers were hiring representatives, and so on. News of the organization and actions of the Board of Directors were obviously newsworthy. After that was NOTHING. I remember combing Publishers Weekly, Inland Printer, Book Production Industry, and other publications looking for articles that might be adapted for a West Coast newsletter. Needless to say, any supplier rep that called on me in those days was grilled about what was going on in other companies. Notes were taken and articles written.

Perhaps the years of most important growth were during my days at W.H. Freeman and Company, from 1974 to about 1978. My colleague at Freeman, Fran Mitchell, did a lot of the “reporting” in that era. She would follow up on any “rumors” we heard and supply accurate information for publication.

Most of the early issues included few illustrations, but I would bet that most of the photos printed were taken by Gary Head.

From the beginning, we mailed the newsletter to anyone who wanted one. Our theory was that we wanted BBW to be a real presence in the industry. We also put industry publications like Publishers Weekly on our mailing list. I remember a memorable time that PW picked up one of our articles and printed it word for word in its pages. When I “swiped” from them, at least I rewrote the piece. At the same time, I felt that at least we had “arrived.”

I did not long retain any copies of the early issues, an oversight that I now regret. I guess I thought that neither the organization nor the newsletter would survive for long. How wrong I was!

Charles Goehring