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PPN Legacy – The Very Early Years

by Bill Ralph

This Publishing Professionals Network newsletter that instantly reaches hundreds of members and friends with information on upcoming activities, industry news, and photos is a far cry from the organization’s original one-color, four-page printed bimonthly publication. But the intent was always the same, as noted in the following article written by the first editor, Charles Goehring. It appeared in the spring 2005 issue of the Bookbuilders West newsletter.

The Bookbuilders West newsletter is as old as the organization itself. The organization was still in its first year when—at perhaps the third or fourth Wednesday dinner meeting in downtown San Francisco (attended by the usual couple of dozen people)—the idea for the newsletter was suggested to me by Tom Wuster, then representing BookCrafters (now part of Sheridan Press). He merely said, “We should have a newsletter or something to tell people about us.”

The very next day I asked Ron Lewton, my colleague at McGraw Hill’s West Coast production office, if he would design such a thing. He did! He also created the “circle of books” logo that is still in use.

We decided that a monthly newsletter would be too difficult for a volunteer staff, and the bimonthly schedule (Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr, May-June, Sept-Oct, and Nov-Dec) was established. We considered various names for the publication (e.g., Bookbuilders West Times) but then decided to let “Bookbuilders West” stand on its own masthead.

I believe that the first issue appeared as Vol. 1, No. 1, in January 1970. That issue used the abbreviation BBW (rather than the more logical BW) for the first time. The reason for that was the fear that we would be accused of imitating the common abbreviation PW (Publishers Weekly).

I wrote and edited every issue for many years. I’m pleased to boast that we never missed an issue! My wife, Alice (a technical editor), was of great help in the first years.

The first typesetter for the newsletter was Holmes Typography in San Jose. Type was set and pages made up in film. The first printer was Peninsula Lithograph Company of Palo Alto. (They were followed later by Fremont Litho.) Paper was supplied by Seaboard Paper Company of San Francisco, whose president, Al Lindenbaum, is the Founding Father of BBW. I don’t remember the name of the stock, but I do know it was a sheet manufactured by Simpson-Lee Paper Company. These companies were enormously helpful in those early years.

Charles Goehring worked at McGraw-Hill, W.H. Freeman, and Academic Press. He served as President of Bookbuilders West in 1972 and again in 1976, in addition to serving as the newsletter editor. Charles and Alice Goehring passed in 2010.

Charles would appreciate that now, more than 42 years later, we’re still reaching out and having a conversation about our industry, our jobs, and this organization.