A Thursday in the life

Things are poppin around here now. We’re approaching the finish line with the tiny homes book. pieces falling into place. It’s been a long haul, and still 6 months to go (Feb 2012) until books are in stores. This sure ain’t no instant book. Every day here is exciting right now. From our little recycled wood studio in the middle of a vegetable garden we’re in touch with the world via our many Macs and the web. Yesterday for example:

I did about a dozen emails preparatory to going to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. It’s a huge event, been going on since the 1500s, the super bowl of the publishing world. I stay in a small hotel in the elegant spa town of Bad Homburg, about 20 miles north of Frankfurt,and usually use my 3-wheel K4 scooter to go the mile or so to the train station from the hotel; thinking of taking my new Bhangra long skateboard this year. So far I have appointments with publishers or agents from Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Russia, mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, and South Africa.

We’ve been having repeated problems with our DSL connection, and may have, knock on the pine desk here, solved it yesterday when we talked AT&T into replacing the fiber optic card down the road. We’re really crippled when off-line. Thanks to Steve, our tech guy…

I feel like a juggler each day. Sometimes it feels as if things are skidding out of control. Permissions requests (mostly to reproduce drawings from Stretching), reprinting books when inventories get low, marketing, watching sales, trying to get the $$ to update our stretching software for Lion, and the big one: trying to figure out how to use the web to maximize publicity and sales.

Someone once said, at a publishing conference, that no one was in this business for the money. It’s true, and my publishing brothers and sisters know this: we’re doing this because we love books. We’re readers! And communicators. For some 40 years, Shelter has been tiptoeing through the publishing game, trying to get the money from bookstores in time enough to pay printers. We’ve always seemed to squeak by. In the old days, Random House would advance us money, Lately we’ve been making it on our own, but we’re approaching a very lean period, with sales down and the tiny homes book taking forever. We’re betting the farm on this new book.


I have too many interests. I look at my skateboard and feel a great urge to skate. I walk into the shop and see a bunch of woodworking projects I’m dying to get into. I’ve got a growing collection of animal and bird skulls, have learned how to bleach them bone-white with industrial strength hydrogen peroxide. I’ve got 3 cabbages ready to be made into my first batch of sauerkraut (great book=Wild Fermentation, how to make all kinds of fermented foods, and the health benefits thereof). I haven’t been getting out into the woods or beaches enough lately, focussing on getting this book dome. But when it’s out, I’m gonna play more. Hike more, paddle more, ride mtn bike, get back into surfing, keep skating, hang out with my pal Louie, go clamming and fishing, spend some nights at my hike-to beach hideaway surfers’ shack, explore San Francisco and Oakland with cameras…

It’s a foggy Friday morning, Gonna work until 1P or so and then go down a local canyon with a friend, we’re taking ropes to get down a pretty steep cliff section, then we’ll hike on the beach. I know it sounds almost irresponsible to say so, what with all the problems in the world right now, but dagonnit, life is rich.

Music du jour: Now listening to Pandora, the Sam and Dave channel, non-stop (free) Sam Cooke, Otis, Aretha, Wilson Pickett, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles — what could be better? Just ordered a box set of Memphis Minnie, Queen of Country Blues, 1929-37, and  San Francisco Bay Blues, by Jesse Fuller. I’m so retro, plus I still prefer CDs to downloading…

Right now, Otis singing “If you ever — huh — change your mind…Bring it on home to me…” with Carla Thomas from the album King and Queen, which I recommend tot-uh-lee…Carla, on Tramp: “Otis, you from the Georgia woods…”

I continue to play my box bass — whenever something good comes on. It’s a gas, like learning a new language. I’m hearing music differently. I’ve always zeroed in  the lead guitar (tah-dah!) or lead singer. The bass is way more subtle, I have to listen differently. It is so fun playing along, I’m in the band.

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:

12 Responses to A Thursday in the life

  1. Hey, Lloyd:

    Sight unseen, I'll buy five copies. One to keep, the other four for gifts.

    If you want the $$$ in advance, I'll send it, retail cover price to you.

    Everyone else who loves your blog ought to do the same. Let me know.

  2. Is it still considered a bet if it is a sure thing???. With all the love and positive energy you put out there it will all return 10 fold…. I like the idea of presale also …. I'd like 4 please….

  3. To you guys who want to order the book early: contact us in February. It'll be a lot easier that way, rather than us trying to keep track of who to notify, and then remembering to do it. Things are ultra complex right now.

    Thanks for the enthusiasm!

  4. This post just upped my energy level about 5 notches! What a glorious (which is sometimes infused with that smidgen of pure terror to keep it even more interesting) whirlwind you've got going on. And you share it with us! Thanks again…the book fair sounds amazing, on a whole lot of levels.

  5. You're right, it's a very lean period but the book is going to hit the bull's eye. There's a huge need everywhere to share these experiences of self-ecoconstruction and a different way of life. What about the distribution in foreign countries and maybe, translations ? I'm sure that, even in english, many magazines will announce it and many readers will rush at it !

  6. PS. a suggestion : post a launching banner of the book on Shelter's web site, so everyone will be able to download and add it in his personal emails… Very effective ''bouche à oreille'' (mouth to ear) all around the planet !

  7. Well, I have and constantly promo all your other books, and you can count on this baby occupying a privileged spot in my ceramic-tiled "library", which seems to be the only place I get to read un-interupted.
    I swear, Lloyd, I have a permanent circle on my ass now from not being able to put down one of your engrossing works…can't wait for the next book…
    All the best!
    Dave in Bakersfield

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