Monday, October 19, 2009

The First Published Book in America

“I'm always trolling for trivia.” – Lynn Abbey

I am happy to report that I survived my totally-unconnected-to-the-internet trip quite easily. I had such a fun time that I didn’t have the opportunity to even think about logging on, much less miss it. However, now that I’m home, I’m faced with the decision of either catching up with email messages or hitting the delete button and starting over again. Just kidding, I will read them all—I promise.

Horizon Books is a wonderful bookstore. If you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend adding a visit to your itinerary. I’m not saying this simply because my signing went well and Michael Kroes and the other staff were super friendly. It’s simply one of those book stores that has ambience along with a great selection of books. By the way, if you live in Traverse City but missed my big event, there are a few signed copies of The Ride still available at Horizon Books.

Since I haven’t had much time to work on a blog lately, I’ll pass along a little trivia about the first book published in America so you can dazzle your friends with your knowledge.

The book was The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, by John Eliot. Commonly known as the Bay Psalm Book, it was printed in Cambridge in 1640. According to A History of the book in America, 1700 copies were printed. That sounds like a lot to me for that time, but I suppose every Puritan family was required to own one. (That last sentence was my opinion and should not be included in the dazzle-your-friends trivia.)

According to Wikipedia eleven copies still exist. The discovery of a twelfth complete copy was one of the plot points in David Baldacci's 2006 thriller novel, The Collectors.The same entry states that the translations are not particularly polished or poetic, and none have remained in use.

An interesting article at the Library of Congress follows the life of the last copy in private hands. This book was donated to the Library of Congress by Annie Jean White in 1967.

According to Southern Review of Books, on September 29,the independent Harvard Book Store inaugurated its new Espresso instant book machine, which can print a library-quality paperback book in just four minutes, by ordering it to spit out a copy of the first book published in America.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Lynn Abbey, Library of Congress, Horizon Books, Traverse City, Baldacci, Bay Psalm Book, Espresso,


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Clever of Harvard to do that!

1700 copies sounds like a TON to me. And I wonder what the book distribution was like back then. No Ingram or B & T!

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

1700 is a lot, but it sounds as if it were guaranteed sales.
That must be nice!

Carol Kilgore said...

Glad you had a fun trip. I love trivia, so this one goes in my treasure chest. Thanks.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Wow- never knew that bit of trivia - thanks for sharing. Now I gotta go and show off my knowledge! (wink)

The Old Silly

Morgan Mandel said...

It's good to know you're still sane after going cold turkey without internet.

Morgan Mandel

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Book trivia is always fun. Glad you had a good time, but also glad to have you back!


Helen Ginger said...

I agree, 1700 is a lot. I would have thought just a few, perhaps for a small congregation.

Straight From Hel

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Of the 1700, how many were remaindered? Just kidding. That sounds like a book I scoop up at full price or the bargin table. I mean, “The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre!!!” I woulda settled for an unfaithfully translated half Booke of Psalmes…pronounced Puh-saul-meeees. Yes, I do have a degree in olde Englishe. I’m so old it qualifies as old Enlish. Just as, my buddy Chaucer.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Karen Walker said...

Jane, you always have such fun trivia to share. Glad you survived disconnected. Nice, isn't it?
Welcome home, though.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! on surviving without the Internet while accomplishing something constructive. Me, I couldn't do it. Can't wait to get mu iPhone or the equivelant thereof with unlimited Internet.

Stephen Tremp

Joanne said...

Love the book trivia. The Library of Congress article following the life of the last copy in private hands sounds as though that can be developed into a book unto itself.

Alexis Grant said...

Glad your trip went well!

Tamika: said...

I am constantly amazed at the things developing in society- go Harvard!

Glad to have you back and recuperated.

Enid Wilson said...

Glad that your book signing and trip went smoothly. Have you ever had problem thinking of what to write for readers during the signing?

Bargain with the Devil

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world