It's been a busy week at Nimble HQ, with quite a lot of work done and some interesting new ideas and opportunities emerging.
Artifacts and Beyond
I made a handshake deal with veteran Nimble author Frank Andruss Sr. for a third book in his highly successful series of pictorial books about the US PT boats of World War II. His first two, BUILDING THE PT BOATS and PT BOATS BEHIND THE SCENES, sold well and have been well reviewed. The next one will be ARTIFACTS OF THE PT NAVY, and it will draw on Frank's unique collection, the Mosquito Fleet Exhibit, as well as his relationships with fellow collectors.
As a publisher, it's always important to be able to answer--what's new about this? Why should the Eugene Krabs-like reader wrench open his wallet and part with his hard-earned money? There are already lots of books about PT boats and there are no new photographs of PT boats. What can possibly be new?
Here, the artifacts angle is important. As Frank observed,
"Artifacts are a fantastic way to connect with those that love the history of the boats. Each one tells a story and a history about the person it came from. It is a part of someone's life during WWII. Families can be close to that someone that may have never known with a photo, uniform, patch, flag. For instance I have several Battle flags that came of the boats. They tell a story in that it came from a wooden craft that a loved one was attached to."
This is a wonderful opportunity to connect new generations to this colorful and charismatic chapter in naval history, with its cigarette-smoking, shirt-sleeved ordinary Joes hurtling towards a vastly superior enemy on flimsy wooden boats powered by Packard V-16s.
And the power of the artifacts only becomes deeper over time, which means, "Backlist sales, baby!" For people five or ten years from now, artifacts from the Forties will have a subtly different meaning than they do today. Relatives pass away, circumstances change. "1918" means something very different in 2020 than it did in 2019. There will be no more PT boats, but the US Navy and Marines are once again preparing to fight a war in the Pacific islands, with small, lightly manned surface combatants playing a key role in the Navy's plans for its 500-ship navy. PT(H)--patrol boat torpedo with hypersonic missile launcher ...
As a publisher, I also like the fact that the ARTIFACTS angle is generalizable to any era and any branch of the armed services. If one ARTIFACTS book works, maybe another will. It's a good formula to master. ARTIFACTS OF THE MARINE CORPS? ARTIFACTS OF THE IMPERIAL GUARD? ARTIFACTS OF THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC?
New from Nimble Public Domain
Everyone loves a series! There are 36 volumes in the MANHATTAN DISTRICT HISTORY, the contemporaneous official history of the Manhattan project. While it's been available in PDF for several years, it's never before been available in print, a situation which Nimble has now begun to remedy with the publication of the first volume. H/t to Alex Wellerstein for cleaning up and organizing the digital copies. Assuming the first volume sells, I will bring out the remaining volumes over the course of the next year, probably as a series of six to eight omnibus editions that each contain multiple volumes. Keeping 36 books in print would cost close to $400/year, and my experience with sales of series nonfiction is that a lot of people just buy one or two volumes.
There are series of books devoted to pretty much every weapons system that has ever existed--tanks, ships, aircraft, artillery--and almost every weapon of any significance "has" its own book. But, until now, there was no system-by-system breakdown available in print for the most powerful weapons of all time. It turns out, though, that in the late 1960s, Sandia National Laboratories produced a series of classified histories of nuclear weapons, and Martin Pfeiffer at the University of New Mexico obtained them by FOIA request. New from Nimble this week is the first in a series, the History of Gun-Type Artillery-Fired Atomic Projectiles. Fortunate indeed that the history of these particular weapons is not written in fire on the pages of history. In another world, this might be the story of the Mk 9 that was fired from "Atomic Annie" against the 5th Guards Banner Army at the Rhine, or the Katie that was fired from the battleship New Jersey to support the amphibious assault on Shanghai.
I'm all about filling gaps and taking advantage of series opportunities, so when I recently observed that a lot of the Congressional Research Service's high-quality and useful public domain reports are not available on Amazon, I wrote a little program to help me prioritize which ones to fill in. The Python script uses Amazon's Product Advertising API (PAAPI) version 5.0 (the latest) to loop over a list of report titles and returns a report on which ones are not yet in Amazon. It is available in the Paid Members section of this website, which is currently on sale for $49/year. New from Nimble public domain for Kindle this week, ten titles, mostly about naval affairs and Space Force.
To witness the first creation of a service branch in more than 70 years is a rare and significant event for a military history publisher, and I have been energetically looking for opportunities to participate in what I believe will be the inevitable growth of a thriving ecosystem around the military history of man in space. Probably not five years from now, probably not ten years from now, but maybe fifty years from now and certainly one hundred years from now, there may be as many books about Space Force as there are about the Marine Corps. I want volumes from Nimble to appear prominently in the early pages of that bibliography. More on this soon.
I haven't forgotten about ZerothDraft! Over the weekend I got LinkedIn scraping working, which is pretty cool (albeit fragile). Give it a profile URL and it goes through and pulls your 100 latest posts, images, and links and assembles them into a ready-for-print book-formatted Word file. If you'd like to try it, shoot me an email.