Saturday, July 31, 2010

Groups who may lose tax-exempt status

Thanks again to Dick Eastman for pointing out something of wide interest. If you are part of a tax-exempt group it may be worth checking this federal website to make sure your group isn't at risk of losing it's status for failure to comply with IRS regulations. You have until October 15th to correct any errors. The list is broken up by state and is available in PDF or excel format. Worth checking out in order to avoid headaches later on.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review--Campaigning for President

Wright, Jordan M. Campaigning for President: Memorabilia From the Nation's Finest Private Collection. Smithsonian Books, New York, New York, 2008. 291 pages, color photos. ISBN 9780061233951. $35.

Every four years we go through the sometimes laborious process of electing a President. In addition to all the name calling, fund raising, campaigning, baby kissing, hand shaking, lying, truth stretching, and other nonsense comes an interesting aspect of the process: the memorabilia created along the way. We've all seen, and many of us worn, a "Vote for ...." button. Buttons are the most common item but author and collector Jordan M. Wright has taken it to a whole new level.

Wright began collecting political memorabilia as a boy by stopping at a Robert Kennedy for President headquarters. He would pick up the new buttons that were available each week. He even had the honor of meeting Kennedy at one point. Wright figured if the Kennedy campaign was giving away buttons, posters, stickers and more the other candidates such as McCarthy, Humphrey, and Nixon must be doing the same. So began the journey of a collector, future author, and dreamer who hopes to open the Museum of Democracy one day.

Wright has written a hugely interesting book. While mostly visual there is plenty to learn here and each election includes a brief overview. What you will mostly find here are interesting photos showcasing some of the most important and unusual items from Wright's collection. If you are looking for a price guide you should look elsewhere. Valuations are not addressed in this book.

From the exceedingly rare like the Abraham Lincoln for President flag that has his name spelled Abram, to the downright unusual like George Bush cigarettes to the plain weird like the Amy Carter at the White House play set you will find it here. If you are interested in politics at all you owe it to yourself to check out this fascinating book. It doesn't matter what your leanings are you'll find something interesting and possibly something against your nemesis. Being issued in 2007 there the last election covered is Bush/Kerry.

As an FYI I found my copy at a local Big Lots for the bargin price of $5.

Campaigning for President

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Photographic History of CW available online

I'm still catching up on email from my internet outage and found that I received an announcement from the Center for Civil War Photography that the classic 10 volume work by Francis Trevelyan Miller, The Photographic History of the Civil War, is now available online. Click here to access the site. Quinnipiac University should be thanked for providing this valuable research tool.

While I much prefer the physical set it's not like you can carry it around with you so this should prove to be a popular site. I didn't stay too long at the site but I did seem to have trouble saving individual pages and photos. I was just doing it as a quick test and didn't put a lot of extra thought into it so perhaps I did something wrong.

Well worth checking out!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Google Editions

I received this today through a blog I subscribe to. Google Editions is the newest foray into the world of e-books. If this is as successful as this optimistic writer makes it out to be this will revolutionize the marketplace for e-books and readers. Based upon this it would appear that Amazon will need to move quickly or perhaps be left behind.

Dear readers, I am interested in your thoughts. My immediate thoughts are in red.

1) Do you own a Kindle or similar device and what do you think of it? Do you prefer reading a physical book or are you just as happy reading a computer screen? I own a Kindle...Christmas present from my parents. It's nice but my wife uses it considerably more than I do. I personally prefer reading the real thing and don't like reading from a screen for long periods of time.

2) Do you feel the market for "books" will erode as e-readers become more prevalent? Feel free to take a stab at market share in the future. Sure the market will continue to head toward e-books just as music has continued a move toward digital files. Unfortunately these type things make more and more people think they should be able to get them for free or for very little cost. Authors and publishers don't work for free so it will be interesting to see where the market goes from that stance. Let's face it there are very few Stephanie Meyers in the world but even she deserves to still be paid for her work. Doesn't matter if you've sold 10 or 10 million copies royalties are earned. We don't expect police and firefighters to give away their work so artists should not be expected to either. I would guess we will continue seeing a higher % of e-books and the estimate given of 20-25% by 2020 is conceivable and maybe a bit on the low side.

3) Do you feel that Google will have your best interests here or is this just another way for them to target marketing and advertising towards you while also earning revenue from your purchase? Google is out to make every dollar it can. I think you'll be bombarded with "suggestions" just like through Amazon or any other retailer. Here though you have no idea what Google's motives will be. Since they are working out individual agreements with publishers it would be in their best interest to push the products they will make the highest profit margin from. Also, will Google lean on publishers to pay for these pushes? We already know that businesses pay for product placement in stores so why would this be any different. Let's just say I don't 100% trust their motives.

4) Do you think bookstores and libraries will become "things of the past"? I sure hope not. I think libraries will certainly have to adapt and do so quickly. Technology is moving so rapidly that the if libraries and librarians don't keep up they will seem like dinosaurs. I think there will always be a place for libraries. Just go to one today and see how crowded they can be. Many folks are finding the value in them based upon the overall economic climate (or perception depending on your view). I think there will always be a large percent of the population who will prefer checking a book out of a library (read that I mean FREE) even if downloading a copy is cheaper than buying a physical book. Nothing wrong with that. As I said though, if librarians adapt they will be relied upon by the public and researchers even more as resources and guides to the rapidly changing marketplace.   

As far as bookstores go I think you can see a shift in the market already. B&N blasts you as you walk in the door with stands for the Nook (I hate this by the way...Let me in the door and don't block up the whole entrance). Also, in my local market many sections (Civil War being one of them) have been dramatically reduced no doubt based upon advanced sales trend information and replaced with toys, writing journals, nick knacks and other assorted non book items. If you want a "bestseller" you are in luck as that seems to be the main focus any more. If I want a specialized Civil War title (heck even most CW new releases) I have to order them. If that's the case I should just go to Amazon (or maybe call Bern at Battlefields and Beyond) and save the effort. Of course then I miss out on the bargain books and magazines but I don't have to have a Starbucks crammed down my throat either.

5) For anybody in the publishing industry (Theodore Savas immediately comes to mind if you are reading) please feel free to comment on how you feel this will affect you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Civil War Graves Online Database

I received this interesting link today through a genealogy blog I read. The SUVCW has created a great database containing information on the final resting places of both Union and Confederate soldiers. As noted the Union listings are more complete but Confederate information is being actively solicited. This should be a of great value for anybody researching family. The additional information provided is also a help for any researcher of Civil War soldiers. Visit the database directly by clicking here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Book Review--So You Think You Know Gettysburg

Gindlesperger, James and Suzanne. So You Think You Know Gettysburg: The Stories Behind the Monuments and the Men Who Fought One of America's Most Epic Battles. John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, N.C. 2010. 188 pages, index, maps, color photos. 

By no means do I think I know Gettysburg and this book proved it. That I have an interest in Gettysburg? Yes. Do I know more about the battle than most? Probably. Can I recommend this book? Yes with small reservations. 

James and Suzanne Gindlesperger are veteran Gettysburg battlefield stompers having been going there for years. Their experience at and knowledge of the park help lead us on a journey both fun and interesting. 

The book is a combination travel guide, history book, and pictorial reference. What you aren't going to find here is a history of the battle. Leave that to others. What you will find here is an interesting guide through the battlefield as told by many of the monuments. The book is broken up into 11 chapters 10 of which contain maps and GPS coordinates. Chapters include McPherson's Ridge and Oak Ridge, In Town, Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill, West Confederate Ave. North End, West Confederate Ave. South End, High Water Mark, The Wheatfield, Little Round Top and Devil's Den, East Cavalry Battlefield, and a General chapter.  Each chapter hits the high points of the area as shown by monuments. Each monument receives at least one color photo, GPS coordinates, and a brief description. The "General" chapter discusses things such as reenactors, field hospitals, cannons, flank markers, and more. Actually a very valuable chapter and the Gindlespergers make note that if more people would read these type markers they would get more out of their trip.  

The text is well written and edited. The photos, while rather small, help the text considerably. Without them the book would not be the same. Overall a very nice presentation. This is certainly not a book to pick up without some level of  knowledge about the town and battle. I have only been to Gettysburg once for a short visit so my bearings aren't really what they should be for a book like this. If you know nothing of the battle the pictures are nice to look at but the text will be beyond you. Certainly not the book I would use for a first visit. For that pick up J.D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley's  The Complete Gettysburg Guide. The two books have different audiences however so a comparison is not fair. For the price this is certainly a book that anybody with an interest in the Battle of Gettysburg should consider owning.

So You Think You Know Gettysburg? The Stories behind the Monuments and the Men Who Fought One of America's Most Epic BattlesTHE COMPLETE GETTYSBURG GUIDE: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest