how to order
of the Press goes back at least a dozen years to a time when I was writing
educational and technical books on learning theory and instructional design.
The market was too small to interest traditional publishers, so I was helping
Kinko's remain profitable by reproducing manuals and workbooks for seminars.
I was not a novice, as I had written several books and spent many
years in book publishing—with
Van Nostrand, Aretê and Ridge Press, and was familiar with the editorial,
was always staff to carry out the little stuff—arranging for ISBN
numbers, establishing arrangements with Bowker, Ingram, Barnes & Noble
and the copyright office. I benefitted enormously over the years by having
excellent people in copy editing, graphics and book production reporting
to me. But
I'm having to learn the business from the ground up.
the deciding factor
In 1997 I
began to photograph the old churches of Hunterdon County with little
thought about a book, just a minor project to mark time until
I could get out to the Four Corners again and my real passion in photography.
Well, one thing led to another and soon I was lecturing on the religious
architecture of the county, then traveling to other counties to create
materials for a book on the old churches, meetinghouses and synagogues
of the state for Rutgers University Press. That was my 11th or 12 book,
but the first one by a real established publisher. If I had any doubts
about the size of the market for a book on the religious architecture
Jersey, the modest sales of that book (The New Jersey Churchscape)
soon disabused me. But I couldn't stop photographing the old churches,
and then researching them and lecturing about what I had learned and
made it easy
Lecture notes turned into booklets and then, via the magic of Pagemaker
into a real honest-to-goodness book. Cheaply printed, yes, but the
Acrobat version distributed as a CD looked great, and I could send
copies to friends
and local historical societies who pretended they
were interested. My website (www.njchurchscape.com), after a couple
favorable mentions by Yahoo and others was soon attracting upwards
of 20,000 visitors a day. Yikes! Some readers suggested churches I
needed to include, others provided additional information on the ones
A couple ridiculed me for placing a church in the wrong township, but
many more thanked me for making the information available. Several
dozen asked permission to reprint articles or use my photographs in
their own publications or websites. Maybe there was more latent interest
in the topic than I assumed.
a wild hair
At some point
I decided that a complete inventory of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
religious architecture of the state needed doing.
Apparently no state has such a thing, although a few people have
created books on selected churches of a particular city, county
or state—but nothing anywhere near comprehensive, and generally
not even analytical or interpretive. So I had a project: twenty-one counties,
certainly more than a thousand old buildings, many of which had been
fine architects for affluent congregations. A most worthy project,
although I am a howling atheist and haven't been inside a church, except
for weddings and funerals, for more than 50 years. Oh, the abuse I've
taken from friends over that!
been at it 11 years now, shot some 12,000 negatives of more than
and am well-along on eleven books on as many counties. I spend more
time in libraries than in the darkroom or with my camera in the field,
and indeed, have amassed quite a library on architecture and even on religion
Given the fact that many counties (Warren, Sussex, Cumberland, for
example) have only two or three bookstores, the prospect of selling
more than 100 copies of some titles seemed dim. If the books were
ever to be published, it would be possible only by means of a grant
an el cheapo printing job by Kinko's or Staples. . . or
the emerging print-on-demand technology. Guess which I opted for.
word about our name
I have a vague recollection of my father telling me a bit of family history—two
items that I don't believe he ever connected: the
name "Greenagel" meant wooden nail in German, and
that a family tradition had it that our ancestors were shipbuilders from
Koblenz, on the
Rhine. That satisfied my curiosity . . . until I was in the
British Museum years later when there was an exhibit of Viking artifacts,
from Sutton Hoo, as I recall. A small, much eroded peg was part of that
exhibit and there was a label in three languages, one of which was
German. The peg, it seemed, had been used in constructing the Viking
longboats and was called, in old low German, a "grünnagel"—a
wooden nail. It's
an interesting connection, and may even be true. But no matter . . .
I had a name for my publishing house.
where do I
go from here?
My intention at this time is to use the imprint only for
my own books on
architecture of the state, but maybe for an occasional photographic book
on other subjects—most likely the 1750s Georgian manor I'm helping
to restore in Phillipsburg. In April 2012 I will publish Historic Architecture of Phillipsburg, New Jersey—a reflection on the 200+ years of architecture in this area. It has been enlightening to work on domestic and industrial buildings for a change. No poetry, no novels, no polemics. Don't
e-mail me with a proposal for
tome on the Pine Barrens or postcards of scenes at the shore from the
40s. At least not for a year or two until I see how long I can afford
to keep The Wooden Nail Press going. I do appreciate your interest, and
hope you will find something here to engage you.