Gimme Shelter to asend out as EMAIL

I started writing the GIMME SHELTER newsletters in the early ’90s as a means of communicating with sales reps about our books. I was inspired to do this by GeorgeYoung’s Ten Speed Press newsletter to sales reps entitled “Verbal Abuse.” It was witty, chatty, and got the word out.

   For a while, the newsletters were on — are you ready? — paper, and we mailed them out. It was fun, I liked doing it every month or two (or three). About 10 years ago I started doing them as emails, and as I went on, I started adding other-than-publishing stuff. Life here on the homestead, on-the-road, whatever was happening.

   In recent years I’ve segued into blogging daily, and this been taking so much time that I’ve fallen behind in the emails. I know most people don’t read my blog, so I’ll try to send one of these out once in a while. (Although this is written as an email, I’m going to blog it now, then email it in the next few days.)

Here’s what’s happening at Shelter Publications and environs at this moment, day of our lord April 3, 2011, with sunny Sunday morning blue skies and warm days after cold rainy months. The hills are verdant green, with Spring life pulsating, creeks rushing, ground soaked deeply. It’s the month of my birthday, and I feel energized.


Tiny Homes book It’s extraordinary. This book is evolving daily. Some of the best material is coming in right now. Just last week a small group of artists and homebuilders creating unique shelters on a piece of land in France; we just did 8 pages on them. “France is the California of Europe…” says our friend Paula.

   The best and most unexpected thing about working on this book is that so many of these builders say they were inspired by our books, going back to Shelter (1973). Boy! Plus our books are being discovered by a new generation.

  We’ve got a thread of continuity running between Shelter, HomeWork, and Builders of the Pacific Coast (we’ve been selling the set of 3 for a 40% discount).

   We’re in full gear production now, have maybe 155 pages (out of 228) done in rough form. We just changed the publication date to February 2012,  got to do it right. It’s gonna be a beauty, is all I can say. I have the feeling that I did with Shelter, back in the ’70s, that we were plugged into something that’s vital and current. This time it’s about figuring out a way use your own hands to get shelter over your head without getting tied up with a bank (or landlord) — we’re talkin freedom here! Maybe not right away, but you can move in this direction…

Daily routine. I’ve been getting up early (mostly), trying to get biz stuff over with and then, work on the book. Gotta snatch those precious moments to do inspired layout. Caffeine, ganja, B. B. King’s Bluesville, no phones or email, I can never tell when things will smooth out and I can put pages together.

Our layout process: I have a big drawer full of files of buildings and builders. When I finish two pages, I look through it and pull out a file to work on. Pretty random.

There’s buzz about this book, and people are sending in extraordinary stuff.  I figure out what size I want  photos, and print out (on paper) on a color copy machine. I write or edit text in Word, print it out (on paper) in 2- and 3-columns, and do pasteup with removable Scotch Tape. Yes, yes, I know, but tell you what: I do a different layout physically than I’d do on a computer. Using eyes rather than mouse seems one step closer to layout art. 

   Sometimes I’ll go over and over a page; I re-did the pages on the French builders at least 4 times. I save up a bunch of scotch-taped, written on, drawn-upon 2-page spreads, then artist David Wills comes out on a bus from San Francisco and adds a master touch of design (manually as well). They then go to Rick Gordon for InDesign and Photoshop work. Lew Lewandowski is in on all of this. The four of us have gotten to working really well together. We’re a book-making team.

   Here are a few rough layout spreads before going to Rick. Remember, these are scotch-taped together crude color photos with scotch-taped text. Colors are all wrong. But you get the idea. Hi-tech or what?

Staying in shape It’s been tough. With the fact I had injuries, along with the intensity of this book project, I got away from running/cycling/paddling/surfing/skating for quite a while. When I started back out there, I decided to quit competitive running (the Dipsea race). My knees. Big decision. Really! If you’re going to race, you’ve got to run 3-4 times a week, and running was my main activity for 20+ years. If I’m not going to race, it opens up a lot of time for other stuff.So I’ve been going for long beach hikes, bike rides, starting to paddle my paddleboard again.Time and again I get reminded that the body is part of the equation. Getting my blood moving makes my brain happier. So true.

It’s about noon Sunday and I’m heading out into the world somewhere. Here’s a pic I just shot of our weeping cherry tree just now. In spring it explodes like popcorn.

Music du jour: Been listening to a lot of ’50s vocals on Sirius lately. Stand By Me/Ben E. King;  Do the Locomotion/Little Eva; Be-bop-a-lu-la/Gene Vincent; Suzie Q/ Dale Hawkins (1957!); the Coasters, the Shirelles, Ronnie Spector. It was a great era, if you separate out the pap…

Happy Springtime!

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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