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Thread: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

  1. #1

    Question Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Hi everyone!

    I am Alison, daughter of Stanley Jay, founder of Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island, NY. As most of you know my brother Eric and I made the (hard) decision to close the store, and eventually sell the brand to a new owner, in mid-2017. As a result of that transition, Eric and I are left with many items: “new” parts and accessories (“NOS” is actually more appropriate at this point) and some are used/ vintage. We have been selling many of these items on eBay for the last couple of years - which is a MUCH better alternative to just throwing it away or keeping it in storage. We did try and sell everything in bulk but nothing ever really panned out.

    Eric and I agree that the audience/ readers of the Mandolin Cafe would be the best option to receive some good advice on our latest project - What to do with our collection of “The Vintage News” as well as several thousand 4x6 photographs (actual printed photographs - not digital) of just about all of the instruments we took into inventory. Even when he was alive, the thought/ suggestion of Stan writing a book was something that often came up. But, as we all to often see, there just wasn’t enough time and the idea never took off. Now that Eric and I are trying to empty the building of all this stuff, the need to do something with the Vintage News, catalogs and photos is greater and more important than ever. The thought of just storing it somewhere until the paper rots and disintegrates does not sit well with me (Im sure you all can understand!).

    So, I ask if you loyal Mandolin Cafe readers, would you buy a book that contained the writing (the very informative and often humorous descriptions of fine fretted instruments) of Stan Jay? If so, does anyone out there know the best way to go about getting a book like this put together? Does anyone have any experience doing anything like that? Or, can anyone else think of something creative to do with it?

    Thanks in advance - any advice would be very helpful!

    -Alison

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlisonJay View Post
    Hi everyone!

    I am Alison, daughter of Stanley Jay, founder of Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island, NY. As most of you know my brother Eric and I made the (hard) decision to close the store, and eventually sell the brand to a new owner, in mid-2017. As a result of that transition, Eric and I are left with many items: “new” parts and accessories (“NOS” is actually more appropriate at this point) and some are used/ vintage. We have been selling many of these items on eBay for the last couple of years - which is a MUCH better alternative to just throwing it away or keeping it in storage. We did try and sell everything in bulk but nothing ever really panned out.

    Eric and I agree that the audience/ readers of the Mandolin Cafe would be the best option to receive some good advice on our latest project - What to do with our collection of “The Vintage News” as well as several thousand 4x6 photographs (actual printed photographs - not digital) of just about all of the instruments we took into inventory. Even when he was alive, the thought/ suggestion of Stan writing a book was something that often came up. But, as we all to often see, there just wasn’t enough time and the idea never took off. Now that Eric and I are trying to empty the building of all this stuff, the need to do something with the Vintage News, catalogs and photos is greater and more important than ever. The thought of just storing it somewhere until the paper rots and disintegrates does not sit well with me (Im sure you all can understand!).

    So, I ask if you loyal Mandolin Cafe readers, would you buy a book that contained the writing (the very informative and often humorous descriptions of fine fretted instruments) of Stan Jay? If so, does anyone out there know the best way to go about getting a book like this put together? Does anyone have any experience doing anything like that? Or, can anyone else think of something creative to do with it?

    Thanks in advance - any advice would be very helpful!

    -Alison
    Yes, provided that the photos are large, and details of instruments are easily seen.
    For example, the tsumura red cover banjo book, with small photos of amazing instruments was a book i actually returned because the photos were too small to really appreciate the woods, inlay, and other details.

    I offer this not to be a pill, but as the things that matter to me, and to give you feedback.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    yes I agree with Steve, good clear large detailed pictures will make all the different in the world. plus well written description under each photo will be a big plus. PS I was at your dad's store once many years ago, he was a real nice man, nice store & he left you alone to look around & try the instruments. no hard sell at your dads store. it was refreshing. may God bless you for doing this I think this will make your dad very happy up there in haven, take care & good luck Tony.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I would be the first in line to buy such s book! I respectfully disagree with Steve above, in that yes, there should be pictures, but the main attraction would be Stan’s inimitable prose! Your father was a walking, talking encyclopedia of instrument knowledge, with a unique sense of humor that made his instrument descriptions come alive. But mixed in with that humor was much factual knowledge, details about the features and construction that were perhaps obscure and not generally known. That is the sort of thing that should be preserved, and it would become a valuable reference and most certainly a must read for any fretted instrument aficionado.

    My only advice would be, obviously including every single instrument that came through the doors would be too big a project. Nor would it be necessary to include every single Martin D18, Gibson F5L, etc. you should be selective and pick the very best examples for each. Not the best instrument example, but the best example of Stan’s prose. That’s the main attraction, at last as far as I’m concerned.
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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    Fender Octave Mandolin

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Could the collection go to auction? Skinners or Bonhams might be interested.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Hi Alison. I bought several instruments from your dad over the years. I was a fan of his writing before I ever stepped into the store. I would be the first inline to buy a book of the compiled writing of Stan Jay. The pictures don't mean a whole lot to me I would include some of them but there really are many books that show large full color photos of vintage instruments. To be totally honest a 1942 D-28 generally looks like any other 1942 D-28. If there was something special about a particular instrument then fine. For example Dave Gard's banjo resplendent with the colored tape he had all over the fretboard as a teaching tool or the ukulele that George Harrison's wife bought him as a birthday present would have historical significance. Items like that would deserve a picture. The mandolins, guitars, and banjos that I purchased would not be significant to anyone but me. Feel free to include any of them by the way

    Your father's writing was a breath of fresh air in a world that could have been very blase. A 1917 Gibson A style mandolin in very good condition with very little play wear would describe an instrument that was for sale anyplace. Your Dad's description would elevate the instrument to heights unimaginable by mere mortals. His words were inspiring to say the least.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I was a customer of Mandolin Brothers and a subscriber to the newsletter way back in pre-Internet days (1970s). I bought my first Gibson mandolin, a 1919 whiteface A-3 from your dad. A book of SJ's writings would be wonderful and I agree with Mike, more or less, that a large glossy coffee-table book if vintage fretted instruments would be fine but maybe not the point.

    What I would love to hear would be the stories attached to these instruments and Stan's way into becoming a dealer and finding amazing treasures out there. I do recall his placing ads in small town newspapers all around the country looking for vintage fretted instruments. I also recall in the newsletter a few times of his re-enacting famous country and bluegrass photos posing exactly as the originals and with the same brand, model and era guitar, mandolin, etc. Those were amazing.

    But, primarily, it is the stories of Stan and these instruments that would really interest me. A book would be wonderful. I would imagine that a publisher like Centerstream might be interested in publishing such a book.

    Barring that, I would say that you could rework the current existing site to include a lot of this material. Every once in awhile I do a search about vintage instruments and I still land on Mandolin Brothers site. A web site including much of this material can be a very nice memorial to your dad.

    As far as the actual physical material, I would contact some archives and museums that may be interested: Library of Congress, Smithsonian, National Music Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, etc.

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents FWIW.
    Jim

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Yes, I would definitely buy a book. My preference would be to have it look like The Vintage News. Same format, photos, etc. But anything would work.

  13. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Alison,

    This sounds like a worthy project. Your Father and Mandolin Bros, earned a place in history and this needs to be documented. I myself, would be more interested in a biography, but that is a whole other project.

    As a coffee table/reference book, I might do it as series to make it more manageable and also gauge interest with the first release.

    Because of the history of the Mandolin Brothers shop, and the fact that this isn't really a for profit thing, you may find some help at local universities. Students need real world projects to work on. This sounds like a good fit and if a school was interested, they could easily handle the whole project.

    This is also a great candidate for crowdfunding (kickstarter). Mentioning it on all of the popular forums could easily get it funded. This will prove that there is genuine interest if the funding goal is reached.
    Robert Fear
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    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I would hope it would be a for profit thing. There's no reason to give this away. We have a few published authors on this site that should be able to offer you some advice. My advice would be to contact Centerstream Publishing. This is right up their alley.

    In thinking about this you could probably reprint all of the Vintage News catalogs as is with a forward and it would sell. The more you add to that the better it can be. Not only is this the history of Stan's prose it's a history of the valuations of the instruments listed. As far as a permanent home for the collection have you approached the school where Stan taught?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  16. #11

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    You brought a smile to my day, thinking a book of Stan's writing may be in the future. Good luck, Alison!

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	164979 I've bought my share of instruments from Stan,,he always sent me lots of photos,,,I have earlier flyers of his,,I just have to find them..

  18. #13

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I would hope it would be a for profit thing. There's no reason to give this away.
    Agreed, it shouldn't be free. I was gathering that the point was to get it out there and preserved as a labor of love. This is niche enough, that it could be tough to get a good ROI all said and done.
    Robert Fear
    http://www.folkmusician.com
    1-800-493-4922

    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

  19. #14

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I would buy the book just for the historical value. George Gruhn, Walter Carter, Mike Longworth and Tom Wheeler have all had a turn at this task...ask them.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I would also add that, if you do go to book form, your own perspectives and memories of Stan should be included, and pictures of the store -- including some of the hilarious posed pics of the staff that appeared in the Vintage News, as I recall.

    Making a History of Mandolin Brothers, largely consisting of Stan's own writings, pictures of unusual and significant instruments with Stan's descriptions, and a running narrative of the store's founding and evolution, would -- I think -- have an audience among mandolin, guitar and banjo "vintage gear heads."

    Lotsa work, however...
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Yes, I would definitely buy a book. My preference would be to have it look like The Vintage News. Same format, photos, etc. .
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    you could probably reprint all of the Vintage News catalogs as is with a forward and it would sell. The more you add to that the better it can be. Not only is this the history of Stan's prose it's a history of the valuations of the instruments listed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    You brought a smile to my day, thinking a book of Stan's writing may be in the future. Good luck, Alison!
    I loved finding the latest Mandolin Brothers catalog in my mailbox. Great reading and some fantastic photos too. I wish I'd kept them. I would definitely buy a collection!

  22. #17

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Alison, would a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book be an option for you? Some of the items you have and are looking to find new homes could be given to contributors of different amounts to help encourage participation.

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Yes! Thumbs up on this project. I enjoyed the style of descriptions, florid language, sometimes over the top but, always entertaining phraseologyin the old catalogs.
    Never bought anything but, I have been plagued with a significant affliction of overzealous verbiage when writing!
    If there is anyway I can be of assistance, please feel free to contact me and I will splutter on and on.
    But, seriously, I’d very much enjoy hearing the “family side” of the stacks of photographs and loquacious descriptions!
    Do it. Please!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  24. #19

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bradford View Post
    Alison, would a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book be an option for you? Some of the items you have and are looking to find new homes could be given to contributors of different amounts to help encourage participation.
    So happy to read so much positive feedback and good ideas! Okay so, I think we all agree a book is a good idea. To be perfectly honest about my intentions: My goal is to do something with the information that my father (and the rest of my family) would be happy with. As I mentioned in the original post, it was his plan to eventually retire and write a book (even though I have a feeling that he would have never have really retired, despite his illness). So, creating a book just feels right. Plus, I mean, how cool is having a book made about your Dad??

    However, we (Eric and I) can't devote too much time to the project as we already have our hands full with selling/ sorting/ organizing the leftover parts on eBay, which is almost a full time job. I should add that this task is a non-paying job -- any money that comes in goes directly back out to cover the overhead of the building (the former brick and mortar of MB) which Eric and I would love to keep in our family and eventually (once the stuff is gone) rent it out to a commercial Tennant(s). So, making a profit on a book would definitely be a GOOD thing (is it ever a bad thing??) and perhaps something we could really benefit from in terms of moving along with the next steps with the building.

    I have NO IDEA where to start! Do I approach the publisher with the idea? Or an editor (someone has got to organize this information and put it together -- and it won't be me!). We (Eric and I) could of course help making the book but it would definitely have to be another person writing (organizing, telling a story, etc). I also think the story is best told by someone who knew the store and my father - but maybe not.

    If ya'll had to take a gander at what kind of money it takes to do this sort of thing, what are we talking? Like... several thousand? Double that? Triple that? The idea of asking the folks in the industry who have already done it is a good one!

    Thank you again, everyone!!

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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Okay, for starters:

    I would suggest you go to amazon.com and use the "advanced search" function in the "books" category to browse around for books similar to what this one might be. Keywords like "vintage guitars" should help. You'll want to find books like these:

    https://www.amazon.com/Play-Loud-His...0KNFA0MWM29P13

    https://www.amazon.com/Strat-Attic-T...2RSS8YVR5ZR9RT

    https://www.amazon.com/History-Ameri...9YT1E1RR0XY6MV

    A lot of these will have the "look inside" feature so you can check on the illustrations and general quality of the work.

    See who published the books you like the look of and then go to the publishers' websites for info on submissions and/or book proposals, and get in touch.

    Also, there is a business called "book packaging" that you might look into. Wikipedia has an article on the business, and you can also look at the industry website, http://abpaonline.org/
    Note that book packaging is not the same as "vanity publishing", which is a scam you should stay away from.

    Hope this helps!

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Mandolin Brothers being new to me, I probably wouldn't buy the book myself. However, the Folklife Centre at the Smithsonian might take your papers, or else the Smithsonian generally might. As well, a local or state archives may be interested. Archives definitely preserve paper, photos, etc. in climate controlled conditions, and still make them available to those doing research long after we're gone. Good luck.

  28. #22

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I would think Walter Carter would be a valuable resource for information regarding publishing. Walter has written/co-written a number of books (including the recent book on the history of the mandolin). As for funding, I know Graham McDonald used Kickstarter/GoFundMe, or such to produce his mandolin book. He should be easy enough to find via Facebook or Mandolin Cafe. I think this would be an outstanding project and great way to honor your dad.

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  30. #23

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Alison,
    Multidon and Mike said it perfectly- Your father's ability to put pen, or in his case, typewriter, to word was truly special. Over the years he performed several appraisals for me. Those instruments have come and gone; but the appraisals themselves remain in my safe deposit box with other items I truly value. I am strangely amused by the fact that I could eventually bring myself to part with an instrument I had previously coveted, yet remain unable to part with a simple piece of paper on which he typed. Several times I caught myself watching him hunch over that typewriter with a little smile on his face, no doubt amused with his own verbal creations. If your idea for a book should come to fruition I would be honored to own it. All the Best.

  31. #24
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    I visited Mandolin Bros. once back in 2012 or 13 when researching The Mandolin and you father generously let me loose in the shop to take photos and document the mandolins. That kindness was a great help.

    Self publishing is quite practical, but you need a few specific skills and a fair bit of time. You have to be reasonably proficient with Photoshop and InDesign (or the equivalent) and they are not cheap and the learning curves are steep. You also need some level of graphic design sense to put together an attractive publication. You can publish a book with Word and a basic image editor, but they almost always look like that is what has been used. And it takes time, a lot of hours! You need people who can proofread (a whole skill in itself) as well as others who understand the subject to read through and offer editorial suggestions and advice.

    Printing once yoo have a finished book is relatively simple. There are lots of good printers around and modern full colour digital printing is quite cheap. They just need a high quality pdf. 2000 copies will cost $10-20K for full colour (depends on the page count of course). Kickstarter could be used to effectively pre-sell enough copies to pay for all the printing and postage for the pre-sales.

    The hard thing is distribution. Some of the bigger printing companies will warehouse the books and ship them to retailers when orders come in, but they will charge you a percentage for that service. It means you have to take orders and process them for the 'fulfilment' service. You might end with 25-30% of the retail price, which is still better than a royalty from a publisher which is likely to be around 10% of the wholesale price (that is 5% of retail and you can bet they will find extra deductions to charge which will eat away at that)

    Finding a publisher is hard. For music books Hal Leonard and Mel Bay own that market and I suspect they have many more offers of books than they know what to do with. Hal Leonard has an imprint, Backbeat Books, that Walter Carter used for his book on the Mandolin in America and it would be worthwhile making a phone call or two and asking.

    Happy to advise and help where I can, but I am a long way away. Feel free to email or PM.

    Cheers,

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  33. #25

    Default Re: Mandolin Brothers Book of Vintage News/ Photos?

    Well I agree with all the thoughts expressed above, and would be a purchaser myself for sure. Regardless of all the great suggestions ref publishers, kick starting and the like, I would think the greatest hurdle/challenge you face is the simple fact that you are not going to do this....

    You are searching for someone to take this on for love.... To spend their time and labor to create a wonderful book. No easy task for even the experienced.... An significant undertaking for a mere enthusiast.... And an undertaking to be considered with the understanding that any and all future return from the project will be funneled into a building. This, I fear, will be the big challenge here.

    As you said Alison, everyone agrees this would be a fine thing to do, on many levels, let alone the nature of a tribute to you Dad,who meant so much to so many... I wish you all the luck in the world finding the soul that will take this project on and do it themselves for you... For the simple love of it.
    John D

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