In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. What Salinger Read
  2. A Disappearing Book Genre
  3. Recession Snows Tahoe Under
  4. Forever Young
  5. Opening Soon: Psychic
  6. Bye-Bye LA
  7. Mighty Kingdom Far, Far Away
  8. The Harder They Fall
  9. Maazel Tov
  10. Destination Pasadena

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Recession Snows Tahoe Under | Main | What Salinger Read »

January 28, 2010

A Disappearing Book Genre

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

We'll probably drive to Reno tomorrow so that Nancy can take a break from skiing. While there, I'll probably stop by the National Automobile Museum, site of what's left of the once-massive Bill Harrah collection. If I do, I'll probably do a walk-through of the books/gift shop.

Am I using the word "probably" a lot? Well, here's one more: In the shop I probably won't spy a lot of books dealing with cars of a given brand (or "marque" as it's often put).

Actually, automobile books of all descriptions save shop-manuals seem to have been in comparatively short supply for the last ten or 15 years or so. Okay, another exception is the sort of car book you can see piled high in the discount section of your local Barnes & Noble store. What I've been missing are serious histories of marques intended for car buffs like me.

Back in the 1970s and 80s there were many such books that I'd drool over in stores, fingers itching, especially in times when my book-buying budget was tight. Nowadays, I just don't see many compelling car books. Why?

One possibility is that it's just me; I bought the good stuff and new titles get ignored because I really don't need a lot of redundancy.

Most likely, publishers find that books about defunct marques simply don't sell all that well. Marque books I notice on store shelves tend to be about existing makes (Porsche, Ferrari, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and such) or dead brands familiar to the under-50 crowd. (Be braced for more titles dealing with Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Plymouth.) New offerings treating Packard, Studebaker, Nash, Hudson and De Soto are rare, and often take the form of photo albums.

This seems to be true in Europe as well. When I visit, I keep my eyes open for books dealing with 1927-1947 vintage Alfa-Romeos, Lagondas, Lancias and such. I'd like to find a decent book about pre-1958 "street" Ferrari coachwork by various builders such as Touring and Vignale. Of interest to me are those now little-known English makes such as Jowett, Riley, Wolseley (I do have a book or two about these). French publishers seem to do a little better, so I have a fair collection dealing with French brands.

Besides the personal experience factor, it's likely that people (usually guys) are less emotionally involved with cars these days than my generation was. Therefore, I await the launch of books dealing with histories of cell-phone brands.



posted by Donald at January 28, 2010


Come to Detroit. You'll find a little better selection.

Posted by: Ted Craig on January 28, 2010 2:01 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?