Thursday, February 26, 2009

Notes from a Godine Intern: Rachael Ringenberg

{Editor's note: the internship program at Godine has a more than three-decade–old tradition of fine young people — students or recent graduates, mostly — working with us for three to four months and learning the trade of publishing through real experience; they proofread, edit, opine, write copy, work sales projects, and even occasionally design, along with the myriad daily office duties we require to run efficiently; they're as important to us as a full staff member.}

I am one of the two current interns proudly continuing the institution of interns at Godine. These seasonal internships are unpaid and thus, as I have no livelihood interests at stake, I will let you in on a few of the secret happenings of a small press — just the ones that industry hounds are always after. Like the reticent Wonka and his chocolate factory, it is sometimes difficult to guess at what covert operations are hatched behind the imposing gates of David R. Godine, Publisher. (And it’s true, if you come to Boston and stand outside the door of the Godine office, you will first encounter a fierce ironwork gate.)

Aside from the completely overwhelming intensity to do things right and well, which takes one several days to understand, several weeks to adjust to as a pace, and probably months to indoctrinate; the secret I will to tell you today is that within the offices of Godine there are three typewriters. They are not kept as archaic relics of a bygone era for the occasional fond nod and soft pat of recollection. These friendly creatures are actual humming, clamorous, and fully functioning machines. Though David’s office is at the other end of our office flat, the steady rat-tat-tat that reliably follows his daily entrances to the office does waft its way down to our space, and is relied upon throughout the day as a sure sign that he has not left the building. Correspondence of all kinds launch furiously from David’s desk (one of the few consistent tasks that interns do is taking out the mail), which leaves me curious as to how the Post Office manages to be running a deficit with men like David loyally working for the cause.

If I were to encounter you in a jungle, and you were to confess that you’ve never held in your hands something typewritten on a modern typewriter, I would attempt to describe it to you as this: neatly inky. Having been at Godine for two months, I have already logged several hours at the typewriter. My personal opinion of them began with suspicion as I warily ticked through my initial assignments, followed by slight disdain when I realized how my mistakes were unforgivingly recorded, and currently you find me at cautious alliance. Alliance because there are a variety of tasks which fall to this workhorse, and so I too now rely on its steady orbiting ball. A post-it* scrawl elevated to a neatly preserved notation, a stack of envelopes set slightly apart from your average company mailing, a postcard able to be filled margin to margin with news.

* Another secret. Post-it notes, salvation to some offices, are rarely seen around Godine. Their ephemeral nature is viewed as unreliable and therefore, is dismissed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Feature: Preview

I'm very excited to announce a brand new feature of the Godine website: Google Preview! Using our partnership with Google BookSearch, you'll now be able to take a peek inside of most of our titles right on the book's webpage. It took me quite a while to master this technology. Or, at least, tame it to our needs.

For example, if you wanted to browse the first few pages of The Prospector, all you have to do is click on the prominent Google Preview button immediately below the cover image; a window should open up with the preview pages where you can see the table of contents and read from any chapter you like. (The cover on Google is our older, now defunct edition.) We've often said, especially about our illustrated and children's books, that once people have our books in hand they fall in love with them. This is as close as we've ever come to being able to have our customers page through the books at our website. So, I hope you'll use it often and enjoy.

Nota bene: all of this excitement is coming soon to Black Sparrow Books. I swear.

Monday, February 23, 2009

David R. Godine at Conversational Reading

David was recently interviewed by Scott Esposito at his excellent blog Conversational Reading, regarding the art of publishing in a recession. Here's a brief excerpt, but do go over and read the whole interview:

"SE: What in particular are you planning to do in 2009 to react to economic changes? What's your outlook for this year?

DRG: We are being very careful in what we decide to actually publish and what we decide to reprint. Not just the titles but also the quantities. It is not going to be a very ambitious list, but there are enough titles on both the Spring and fall list with a fairly sure potential to sell well that I would say I am cautiously optimistic. Which is, of course, the only philosophically tenable position for a publisher to maintain in any market."

You can also find an older interview there with me, regarding the effect of the Nobel Prize on a small press.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shades of Would: Writing and the Question of Black Identity

Over the years, I have been approached by fair-skinned, straight-haired individuals who I suspected were Black by “the vibes” they gave off. This usually occurred after a poetry reading. As the crowd thinned, one person would hang back until no one else was within earshot. Then, following the painful confession that “I don’t look like it, but I’m Black too,” I would be asked for advice on how to handle the emotional difficulties and the psychological damages that came with entrenched acculturation and / or their refusals to pass for Asian, Jewish, Latin or White. I felt somewhat an authority, given that authorities on the topic were scarce (still are), and given that my children were the products of a mixed marriage — and that the ever-troublesome topic had made its way into my writings. I preferred to allow the poet in me to speak, to offer succinct and constructive answers and time-tested solutions to specific problems.

My particular identity crises, however, were of a much more subtle nature, related to regional differences which compounded the issue of race. I was not a Southerner, nor was I close to any family roots in what was coming to be known as “the Old South,” nor was I from Texas (A nation unto itself: a maternal uncle once declared he had never experienced racism until he joined the military during the Korean War and was stationed in Texas for boot camp.). My immediate family origins were largely from the Plains States, farming and rural, but my upbringing had been strictly urban and rather generic. Being born in what I have termed “the Deep West,” my parents — “an Oakie and an Arkie,” as I often either lovingly or facetiously called them — reared me to speak only “the King’s English.”

Reading the complete works of Shakespeare by the age of ten, along with the King James Bible, and virtually every other text in my parents’ teensy library, including the sequestered Henry Miller, I had long entered the hostile world of public school and libraries, had undergone the ritual of being called “Nigger” and “Black” (then, an expletive), and was well on the path toward learning the caustically cruel lessons that came with being intellectually and psychologically different from one’s peers. At home, I was forbidden the use of foul language, blasphemy, “bone-head English,” or the slang I brought in from school. To say “ain’t” or “goddamn” instantly generated corporal punishment. I once, actually, had my mouth washed out with Ivory soap (the same soap mother used to give enemas). The usual punishments were sharp cracks of backhands across my face, or a whipping followed by the additional denial of TV privileges and having to go to bed at seven o’clock instead of nine — assuming I could lay down comfortably on my throbbing behind.

“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” my father would intone, with a Moses-like basso that shook my bones.

My parents were not only beautiful, but possessed an overwhelming physical power so traumatizing that I could not utter a profanity without stuttering, stammering and having spasms of the torso accompanied by a stomach ache. Thus, I never said them. It would take an empty auditorium, stubborn determination, and the encouragement of a friend to break the spell my parents had cast. Once broken, at age 14, it was gone forever. But it wasn’t long thereafter that I would discover the more sophisticated and subtle difficulties connected to place and self-image. Along with obedience, my parents had also drummed into me the notion that I was equal to anyone who was White, that I could be proud of my race, and that as long as I did my best I would be rewarded. The latter delusion would be dispelled by the time I left home, the day after my 18th birthday. But the former teaching has remained intact. Ironically, it became a character trait that, coupled with my creative bent, unfortunately separated me from many of my “scaredy” colored peers — those who feared the White world and its inhabitants, and / or deeply believed in the inferiority of African peoples who were once enslaved.

This was an especially painful happenstance during the onset of puberty. This self-hatred festered in the psyches of many of my Negro classmates to the extent that it often became an insurmountable barrier to friendships. It often caused destructive behavior, toward the school building, the buses, students, and teachers alike. Bizarre incidents occurred daily, and I believed I was trapped in insanity. But pleas to my mother to transfer me out of the schools I attended were met with her stony insistence that I learn how to cope with the circumstances. It would take years to do so, and exposure to the world outside, before I would come to understand what was soon to be called “ghetto mentality.” This acquired understanding has informed my work as a poet and writer, and I am as fascinated with it now as I was in childhood.

As for coping, I was lucky to survive my internment in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I was helped by several sensitive individuals who went out of their ways to protect me. They were perceptive adults, some creative, all ambitious, who also saw themselves as trapped in the system, if in entirely different ways. They spanned the racial, religious, and gender spectrums, and saw through my mediocre test scores and grades to the creative entity beneath. These teachers and mentors not only complemented the rich cultural environment my parents provided (when at their best), but they sheltered me from the relentless racism that prevailed between 1950, when I entered the school system, and 1964, when I graduated from high school at seventeen.

With their help, I was able to combat the ignorance and violence that defined my life in the public schools of the southwest. These mentors gave me the chance to distance myself from what I termed “the madness.” They fostered my growth and the development of the emotional and psychological tools I needed to survive in post-war, pre-civil rights America. They enabled me to understand my other Black peers and to appreciate the history that had shaped them, and to navigate the distances between us. They enabled me to adapt. Instead of resenting those differences, I came to respect and embrace them, which lessened the impact that might have otherwise crippled me, or caused me to become a teen suicide. I had learned that all-important ability inherent in my African-American heritage — the skill of reversing the negative — to transform the madness into works of art, if not beauty; to allow the damages of racism to move through me and be transformed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kim Smith: Looking to the Future

Looking to the Future

Walking along a wooded lane last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of songbirds. One singular, startled robin, that was all, poking around a hedge of scraggly privet. The time of day was late afternoon, which is the same time of day our yard is typically host to a chorus of songsters. Eerily disquieted, I closed my eyes and imagined what this same lane would look like if found growing there were winterberry and summersweet, blueberry and chokecherry, juniper and holly, and the chattering collection of songbirds these fruit-bearing plantings would surely attract. Perhaps there was a disappointing lack of songbirds because invasive species such as privet has engulfed both sides of the road, or perhaps because the road abutted a golf course, which is regularly doused with insecticides intended to kill every living insect, the songbird’s primary source of food.

A friend forwarded an article, posted from the Guardian U.K., about the charismatic head gardener Alain Baraton, of the Palace of Versailles. Appointed in 1976, Mr. Baraton has made it his mission to transform the 2,000-acre traditional landscape into a model of sustainable gardening. Climate change has affected Versailles in ways Baraton never imagined. Because the chestnut trees are flowering twice a year, they are losing their glorious autumnal hues. Pine trees that have lined the park's avenues since the reign of Louis XIV are dying in gross numbers. The previous year saw so little rainfall that the lawns did not have to be mowed. It is imperative, Baraton says, to move with the times. "The gardener always has to look to the future," he explains. "We are witnessing an enormous change in climate.”

Baraton saw in the changing environment an opportunity to reform the long-standing use of pesticides. Realizing the futility of applying chemicals to rid the garden of bugs, which would only return and in greater numbers with warmer temperatures, insecticides were the first to go and he declared a blanket ban. No matter how tiny, Baraton believes every living creature deserves a place in his garden. Enticed by the prospect of plump, juicy insects to feast on, the birds returned to Versailles in prodigious numbers.

Trees and shrubs have benefited tremendously under Baraton’s guiding hand. Long gone is the tradition of planting the same species in neat ordered avenues. The gardeners vary the plantings to prevent major loss in case any one species becomes diseased.

If the most formal of public gardens, scrutinized under the demanding microscope of an international audience, can afford to forgo the use of insecticides, can there possibly be any justification for the use of insecticides and herbicides in the individual, business, and public suburban and urban landscape?

Our Dragon Lady hollies have grown tall and the winterberry is flourishing, and because of that, for the past several years we have been graced with a flock of robins in early February (Round Robin Red-Breast). The first winter the robins arrived I noticed that, after they had devoured every morsel of red berry — the winterberry, holly, and crabapple — they moved to a neighboring privet hedge. My first thought was, well at least that’s one good thing about privet. No, the robins did not care too much for it and the flock soon departed our neighborhood. Privet is tedious, and if one has the misfortune to inherit an established hedge, very challenging to remove. On the other hand, a natural arrangement generally requires a modicum of once-yearly maintenance, a light hand with the pruning sheers, to shape or remove dead wood. Imagine if all the suburban privet hedges were replaced with welcoming avenues of flowering and fruiting shrubs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Excerpt from a Lecture by Carl Chiarenza

This passage is an excerpt from a 2008 lecture by Carl Chiarenza, "Fifty Years of Thinking about and Making Pictures"

Representation, as I use the word, does not mean a documentary trace of the natural, social world; does not refer to specific times and places. Representation in my usage refers to how photographic syntax allows and restricts — how it delimits and frames the visual transformation of whatever is silenced and stilled, and seen, from the frozen single vantage point of the camera's lens. I'm interested in how, when what is in front of my lens comes together into a new object (the photographic print containing tones, shapes and edges) — how the photograph, as a new object, causes a genuinely real but fresh experience, one which did not exist before the photograph's appearance. The word "representation", for me, is, then, about the reality of photography's way of transforming things — as opposed to the idea of photography's way of reproducing, or tracing, the supposed reality of things.

A photograph presents the artist and the viewer with a challenge, because we always want to know what it is — as if the photograph was not there. For over 165 years, an extraordinary number of forces have made us instinctively believe that photographs are windows on reality — even when reason tells us otherwise. We share photos of our children and we say, "this is my daughter," as if the photograph was not there. Consequently, we tend to fail to consciously recognize that while a photograph is substantially different from other kinds of pictures, it is still a picture, and, therefore is characteristically, and importantly, different from whatever was in front of the lens. Instead of trying to hide photography's own special characteristics of transformation in an illusion of some material reality, I try to expose them, to exploit them, to underline the fact that the viewer is seeing an abstraction, a picture, not actual events, as in this picture from 1975. (Of course, individual picture makers and picture users have their own special ways of transformation as well; and today's digital tools just compound the possibilities.)

Even without considering the digital revolution, however, the difference between photography and reality is, and always was, central to my thinking and working. In the case of the media photograph, as in this widely published image issued by the Bolivian government as evidence of the capture and death of Che Guevera, the 1960s revolutionary, this difference can have serious consequences for our understanding of political and social events. How can we know the true relationship between this photograph and the actual facts about Che? Directly connected to this question, of course, is the ongoing debate over the facts and images of events in the Middle East. The issue of difference in the case of my work, while similar, has an additional wrinkle: how to hold the viewer's attention beyond the initial frustration of being unable to decipher "what it is"; — the problem is how to get the viewer to abandon the commonly held belief in the photograph as window; how to get the viewer to go through the window to a new and unique visual event, not to an illusion of one that already occurred.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day

Though it may be all candies and diamonds these days, we at Godine & Black Sparrow plan on celebrating this Valentine's Day the old-fashioned way, with a good book and some Girl Scout cookies. In that spirit, here are my top five Godine and Black Sparrow V-Day titles:

The Prettiest Love Letters in the World — our modern-day greeting cards are a sad substitute for the candle-lit calligraphic love letters of the past, and this sixteen-year correspondence between the infamous Lucrezia Borgia and typographer Cardinal Bembo prove exactly how thrilling a forbidden Renaissance love affair could be.

Lancelot and the Lord of the Distant Isles — in every romantic there is the seed of a dream of the middle ages; of knights, kings, and magical intrusion, of romance in the purest sense. But those who think they know that old story of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot are sure to be pleasantly surprised by this little-known version of the myth, translated, edited, and adapted by Patricia Terry & Samuel N. Rosenberg.

Jamie is My Heart's Desire — odd would be putting it mildly; this is a love-affair for the blindly impassioned and strong of stomach. We would be amiss to believe that love is just in the virtuous, blushing maiden saved by her horse-ensconced hero: Alfred Chester provides this surrealist novel of cold-blooded love between the undertaker Harry and his perhaps-delusion, the deceased Jamie.

Bear — in this final novel by Mirian Engel, the renowned author stretches both social norms and the imagination with her intimate fable of love between a timid librarian and a kept bear. Margaret Atwood wrote, "Bear is a strange and wonderful book, plausible as kitchens, but shapely as a folktale, and with the same disturbing resonance."

Adultery and Other Choices — we know. It's so often a broken heart with whiskey in place of love and marriage, and we dialecticians can not help but feel sympathy to those suffering on the dark side of love. Andre Dubus, with all his trademark compassion, portrays in this novella "a stunning vision of loss, domination, and redemption."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kim Smith on "New England Grows"

I recently spent several days exploring New England Grows, the trade show event supported by area educational institutions and landscape industry professionals. The Garden Writers Association's annual meeting and luncheon for the region was held there; it was a great way to make new acquaintances and reconnect with old friends. The booths sponsored by the Arnold Arboretum's Landscape Institute and NELDHA provided a wealth of information and, whenever I happened by, were packed and generating much interest in their programs. My butterfly garden photos from Willowdale Estate were part of the "before and after" slide show, one of the many landscape designs presented by NELDHA members. Several people inquired as to how to grow such great batches of morning glories: moon vine and morning glories benefit from twice-weekly doses of Neptune’s Harvest fish emulsion. (Willowdale Estate is a special events venue; watering with fish emulsion was done at least twenty-four hours prior to any event.)

I stopped at the New England Grows bookshop to sign copies of my new book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Unfortunately, Oh Garden! was situated at the table labeled "Business Books," sandwiched between Small Business Grants and Discipline of Market Leaders. Highly doubtful that any sold. One of the other writers from Garden Writers Association said she had seen my book there, but passed it by because she thought it “was just another marketing book.” When a display problem such as this is completely out of my control, I really don’t know how to fix it, but I would be interested to hear from readers who may have encountered similar problems of this nature.

The GWA event was well attended and the guest speaker, JP Faiella of Image Unlimited Communications, led an informal talk on improving business communication skills. I especially enjoyed meeting Thomas Mickey, professor of communications at Bridgewater State and garden writer for the Patriot Ledger. His book-in-progress sounds fascinating — The Seduction of the English Garden: The Nineteenth Century Seed Merchants Sold More than Plants — and is based on his year-long work at the Smithsonian, where he researched the public relations materials of the nineteenth century seed industry.

I only had a brief moment to meet and speak with Hilda Morrill; her website is brimming with articles and informative listings of upcoming New England gardening events. Debra Strick, the former communications director from New England Wild Flower Society was seated at our table. She has recently launched Damera Communications, a green marketing and public relations firm. Best wishes to Debra! I hope you have as much success for yourself as you helped to create for NEWFS.

Jennifer Masiello, a representative from Droll Yankees bird feeders was also present at our table. I love Droll Yankees bird feeders for their streamlined designs and because they last for years and years. Jennifer is a treasure trove of backyard bird feeding tips. I had been looking for an alternative way to clean bird feeders, typically scrubbing with a ten percent solution of bleach. We are trying to avoid chlorine bleach as much as possible. Droll Yankees is now recommending a fifty / fifty white vinegar to water solution to sanitize bird feeders. Their recently launched line of tubular feeders, designed with a simple-to-remove base, allows a clean, fresh fill every time, which will also help to prevent the growth of mold and toxins.

Photo credits: 1. Morning glory embowered doorway at Willowdale; 2. Pine Siskins

Friday, February 6, 2009

On Independent Bookstores and blogs

If you are an independent bookseller reading this post, let me say that I don't think there is any greater proponent of the independent store than David R. Godine. He treats them all — every store, every buyer, every quirk and oddity — like a big extended family. If you've received one of his many thank you cards or other hand-written notes, or if you have been nicknamed in some way, then you probably understand. If you're in New England and he's never visited you personally — he handles our sales for this area — do call the office, and we'll set up an appointment: he's usually more than happy to stop by, show you our books, and chat about the book world. Independents have always been the cornerstone of this company, and I think many small publishers feel, as we certainly do, that as you go, we go too.

At this year's ABA Winter Institute, Patrick from Vroman's Bookstore reports, 'Bob Miller [of HarperStudio] was adamant that booksellers needed to be leveraging their roles as tastemakers through blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and using social media. Entrekin [of Grove / Atlantic] seconded that notion, with the statement that "Every bookseller needs to have a blog."' Patrick later writes, 'the digital world is built on relationships, just like the non-digital world. If you want people to take an interest in you, it helps to take in interest in them. This can be hard for people used to thinking of media as a one-way broadcast. Twitter, blogs, and the like must be about dialog if they are to be successful. And that takes time.'

I completely agree, and believe David would say the same thing. The internet is not an oddity or something that businesses can choose to ignore anymore, it's as important as customer service and stocking the shelves. I think many booksellers might be uncomfortable with the idea of being a 'tastemaker,' as Miller and others have phrased it, and that's a reasonable concern. But there's a humbler, more down to earth way of thinking about what blogs do, and Patrick hits on that: buying a book is an act of trust — in the author, the publisher, and the bookseller — and anything you can do to build a relationship with customers will help build that trust.

In hard times especially, people want to feel reasonably sure they're putting their money to good use. The better a person feels that they know a bookseller's tastes, breadth of knowledge, and character, the more inclined they'll be to trust that store's choices and recommendations. Blogs and other online spaces are perhaps the best way to do that; they're the twenty-first century version of the block party, the pub, the dinner party, the diner. The internet isn't like beaming a signal out of a radio tower, or even publishing a newsletter; it's a big group conversation, where acquaintances spread gossip and news, recommend books, and tell jokes — but you have to speak up to join in.

Monday, February 2, 2009

From the desk of David R. Godine

A Note on Bruce Rogers

People used to say of T. E. Lawrence that he had a genius for backing into the limelight. I think the same could be said of Bruce Rogers, the peripatetic American typographer, who probably has had more ink spilled over his work than any practitioner of the graphic arts of the book since Gutenberg. Rogers had certain natural talents, and among these were his abilities as a pasticheur; he could put himself into the skin of almost any century and make it his own. Nowhere are these talents displayed with more vigor and inventiveness than the books he produced in the sixteen productive years (1896-1912) he worked at The Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had big shoes to fill; D.B. Updike had left to start his own shop in 1893 and both Houghton and Mifflin saw the need for a captive private press that could produce first-rate editions and printing at moderate costs. They had the editorial taste; they had the plant at Riverside on the other side of the Charles; they had willing and skilled workman. What was needed was a leader who could both direct a program and oversee the details of design and production. In Rogers, they found the perfect candidate, a typographer who was able to take over a small corner of the enormous factory on the bank of the Charles, select the titles, and produce the volumes without regard to either estimates or costs.

This was the decade immediately following Morris's final efforts as a printer and designer and, above all, of the Kelmscott Chaucer, a book that appeared in 1896 and was, in so many ways, the culmination of Morris’s remarkable career as a craftsman and visionary. In its total integration of text and image, paper, printing, and ink, it would forever change what would be expected a privately printed edition and set the bar high (perhaps impossibly high) for any future "private press." Although Morris died shortly after DBU left Riverside, his influence was strong and pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps Rogers absorbed some of it; he could hardly not be aware of it. And how could he ignore it working in Boston alongside Goodhue, Copeland and Day, and the arts and crafts revival that took the region by storm? But BR was nothing if not eclectic and inventive, and his three decades at Riverside produced books that hearken back to Jean de Tournes and the French sixteenth century, to Bulmer and Bensley of the late seventeenth, and to Pickering and Whittingham of the mid- nineteenth. As I said, he could slip into almost any clothes and make them fit.

As Jerry Kelly makes clear in his fine appraisal of Rogers during this period, these were his happiest years. And it was no wonder, for he was given free reign, and was the highest paid employee at the plant, which must have grated the older workmen no end. BR could devote his attention (as did Morris) to every detail of the books’ production. Here is a small note from the Autumn 1905 announcement of Riverside Press Editions:

"For more than two years, the question of ink has occupied his (i.e. BR’s) attention, and now, after many trials, failures, and partial successes, it is believed that a thoroughly satisfactory printing ink has been obtained. Made only of the finest materials, and ground with special care, in a shop whose proprietor is the only workman, the result is a black ink of unusual density and richness, and without gloss. A red has also been produced, not brilliant, but full, clean, and of absolute permanency."

Rogers neglected to point out that it also cost $6.00/can, probably five times the going rate.

But to say that Rogers was “happy” is also not saying much, for BR was never, it seems to me, a very happy man. If you read his letters to Henry Watson Kent at the Metropolitan, he was always unsatisfied with something or someone — the climate, the food, the printing equipment, the heating system. Although they lived and worked in the same city, he and Updike were like oil and water, and while they were careful to respect each other's work and DBU went to bat for Rogers on any number of occasions, they were clearly uncomfortable in each other's company. This is not surprising; each was thorny and prickly characters in their own way; Updike clearly unhappy and repressed, and Rogers, although later married and a father, never displaying much loyalty to or affection for anything but his work, which always seemed to take precedence over the comfort or happiness of his family (at least if his letters are to be trusted). But at Riverside, Rogers was really his own boss and the cock of the roost. For his sixteen years in Cambridge, until he finally lost the support of the management after Henry Houghton’s passing in 1906, he had every reason to be “happy”; he was being paid the equivalent of $110,000/year, he had a full compliment of trained workmen at his disposal, and until some bright eyed accountant began looking at the real costs of the operation, he had the support of the publishing firm and management. Many of his editions sold out before publication. But the writing was on the wall. In a letter to Henry Louis Bullen, Rogers understands how precarious his position really was at the plant:

"The plain fact is that it doesn’t pay — at least not well enough to please the newer and younger element in the firm, and in the general retrenchment going on, my head, as that of the highest salaried man in the concern, was naturally one of the first to fall. I am really greatly pleased, though I haven’t any idea what I shall do."

By 1912, BR had left Riverside, although for two years (at east) the firm continued to issue books from his plans and designs. They were, and remain, among the most beautiful books ever produced by a large commercial establishment whose objectives were to make both beautiful books and a profit. But in this case, at last under Houghton, the books came first and BR himself said that only the books he printed while at Riverside Press “give me a definite satisfaction.”