By Will Whitehorn will (at) berkshirerecord.net
GREAT BARRINGTON-For anyone planning to write that classic American novel, one local publisher is taking at least some of the difficulty out of the equation.
The Bookloft, in collaboration with the Book House of Stueyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., is beginning its first year as an independent, digital printing service, known locally as The Troy Book Makers.
The service provides authors the opportunity to see that mystery tale or book of poetry they’ve been kicking around for years finally see the light of day.
For a relatively nominal price – approximately $175 -the partnership will print and produce a short, 10-copy run of any work (except stories of misogyny or advocating violence) and even put the book up for sale in its stores.
Eric Wilska, owner of the Bookloft, explained that “Basically, it all came about because everything in the world is digitized,” Wilska said. “It was time to join the digitized world. It’s a perfect niche for us to be able to do short runs for authors.”
Wilska, who partners with Book House owner, Susan Novotny, said any file produced on a personal computer can be modified into book form without trying to peddle the work to a publisher.
While the books produced may lack the scope or the commercial possibilities, Wilska contends that the author’s have different objectives.
“We have authors who are happy if they sell 50 copies,”Wilska said. “We have one teacher who teaches Huckleberry Finn and we can customize Huck Finn to have her questions for the class at the end of each chapter. In that way, some of what we do has an impact on education.”
David Jaicks, a local poet, said he just recently produced and released a book of poetry through The Troy Book Makers.
He said the opportunity to see his work in print, and to support local industry, were behind his efforts to have his poetry published.
“I’m not trying to make a living at it,” Jaicks said. “I like to meet people who are part of the writing world, and that’s how I got started in this. It’s been a very positive experience for me.”
Bernie Drew, a Berkshire historian, has published two books with the Book Makers – local histories “Dam Beavers” and “Berkshire Forests” – and is considering having a third published in the near future.
Drew, who has also had works accepted by more mainstream publishers, said the differences between the two – at their core -were not that vast.
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“You’re not going to make money either way you do it,” Drew said. “There’s a great satisfaction in doing it, people wanting to see their material read. I like writing local history, it’s my passion.”
Maxine Carter-Lome, co-owner of the Weathervane Inn in Egremont, said she was looking for a present for her father’s 70th birthday when she learned of the Bookloft’s program.
The result was a book – “Ephemeral” – chronicling a collection of souvenirs well-known within the family.
“My grandfather had this collection of 1,000 autographs,” Lome said,”that I inherited several years ago. He had over 5,000 signatures – everything from presidential letters … literary minds, opera, ballet, theatre. It was a veritable who’s who of the 20th century.
“I had these published,” she continued, “and it was really something personal for me. It allows me to produce a memoir remembering him as an autograph collector, to take a look at a man who spent a lifetime collecting autographs.”
Lome said her dealings with the Bookloft made it all the more pleasurable.
“Publishing this book allowed me to see what it would look like in a short run,” she said. “They made it so easy, and it was relatively affordable, the price I would have paid for a birthday gift anyway. It’s better that any of toys and gifts I ever got for my birthdays!”