Preorder The New ‘Walden’ by Friday and Get a Beautiful Print
New perk alert! Every book purchased before midnight this Friday (EST) will ship with an archival print of my illustration, “Living.”
I mentioned in my last email that thanks to a generous private investment, our production costs for 1,000 books are fully covered. We’re no longer dependent on an all-or-nothing crowdfunding campaign. The book will go to press next month; we’ll still have to sell the remaining inventory, but the pressure will be off. So far, so very good!
My plan all along was to sign and number the books if we reached our stretch goal of 2,000. Unfortunately, since the preorder is ending this Friday and we’ve only sold a grand total of 188 copies thus far, 2,000 pre-sales ain’t happening. But then again, thanks to our investor – who cares, right?
But it’s the signing part that made me increasingly uncomfortable. No one called me out about it, but my conscience started to feel sour. I may be the co-editor and designer, but Thoreau’s the author. I realized signing Walden – even to sign my name above a line that spells out my role – would be presumptuous and distasteful.
It’s appropriate for editors, illustrators and other contributors to have bylines on book covers and title pages. But a signature means much more than an endorsement or mark of authenticity: by signing a creative work, I claim authorship. And while I’ve worn several hats throughout this project, I’m essentially a curator and a steward. Sure, I designed the book, edited every annotation and wrote part of the foreword. But otherwise, every word from “When I wrote the following pages” to “morning star” belongs to Thoreau. The fact that the text entered the public domain many years ago makes no difference. Bottom line: it’s best to keep my pen capped.
I’ve learned two lessons from this flub. First, that old narcissistic bent still gets me into trouble. I’m not proud of it, and there’s work to do.
Second, I need to draw out my wife’s wisdom more often. Leslie’s hunches are excellent, but she sometimes struggles to articulate them. Or, a perspective is crystal-clear in her mind, but she keeps quiet due to the false belief that her ideas don’t matter. You might say that unlike me, she could do with a little more narcissism – or at least a greater respect for her own voice.
A few days ago, I shared my concerns with Leslie. She said, “You know... something about you signing these books felt wrong to me all along. I never said anything because I wasn’t sure how to put the feeling into words.”
Next time I’m preparing to launch something, you’d better believe I’ll ask what her gut’s telling her – the good, the bad and the unclear. And then I’ll shut my pie-hole and listen.
With only a few days left in the preorder campaign, I decided to offer a more compelling perk for those of you who’ve already bought a book or plan to buy one before this Friday at midnight, Eastern time. Every pre-ordered copy will ship with a complimentary, gallery-quality print of my collage pictured up top.
Yes, I’ll sign those prints.
Want to buy The New Walden after Friday? Go for it, and thank you. Want the book and a beautiful new print for your living room or office?
Too bad, so sad, sincerely,
my kids’ dad.
Reviving a Classic: In Conversation with Visualist
Visualist is an all-in-one workspace that empowers creatives to collect, organize, remix and share ideas. With Visualist, designers and stylists can build moodboards, automate workflows, manage projects and scale high-touch creative businesses.
Cherie and Megan from Visualist learned about The New Walden in May and asked if I’d be up for an interview. After a few very full months, I finally made time to answer their thoughtful questions. In a conversation ranging from typography to burnout, we delved into Walden’s inspiration, research and creative process.
Walden × Ken Burns
“You can walk through a place and not really look at it. But if we look closely at places, they take on meaning – like battlegrounds or the North Bridge in Concord. But there are also idyllic ponds, woodlands, meadows and fields, and they all have meaning. And this is the place that inspired the literature that inspired thousands and thousands of people around the world.”
So says Don Henley (the Don Henley of the Eagles fame) at the beginning of Walden, an inspiring short film about Thoreau’s masterpiece and ongoing influence. Henley is also the founder of The Walden Woods Project, a non-profit dedicated to preserving “the land, literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau” with the purpose of fostering “an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”
Do yourself a favor this week and carve out 22 minutes to watch this work of art, filmed by Ewers Brothers Productions, presented by Ken Burns and narrated by the inimitable Robert Redford.