45 years ago, Bob Easton and I spent the summer of 1973 putting together this book in Bolinas. We had gathered a lot of material, but had no idea how it would fit together for a book. So we just started, two pages at a time.
We both loved Life magazine, and wanted the book to be visual. (It ended up with 1,000 photos and 250,000 words.) I had a geodesic dome at the time, and Bob did layout in the dome while I worked on my Adler portable typewriter in the second story of the tower, practicing real cut and paste: scissors and Scotch tape.
Joe Bacon, from New Orleans, set the type on an IBM Composer (an $8000 Selectric typewriter) in a little room we built him on the side of the tower (a couple of decades before the Mac).
I had a mission in starting this book: I had published a popular book on dome building, only to find out that domes didn’t work. By the time Domebook 2 sold 160,000 copies, I took it out of print.
I then thought that I should show people all the other ways to build: different materials, different techniques, different ideas on design. I set out with 2 Nikons, one loaded with Tri-X, the other with color slide film, and traveled around the USA, Canada, and Europe studying building techniques. We also did a poster announcing the book and people sent us material.
The book came together on its own, with our assistance, and we printed 50,000 copies on a newspaper press in San Francisco, shipped it to Random House, and it sold like crazy. (It’s now sold over 250,000 copies in English, and has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.)
I can’t tell you how many people have said, over the years, that they were inspired by this book. One guy came up to us at a solar energy festival, picked up Shelter, and said “I remember when I first saw this book at a party. I took it into a corner of the room and read it all night. The next day I quit my job and went to work as the builder and now I’m a contractor.”
It’s not us, it’s the people and the buildings in the book that are inspiring.
It’s a book dedicated to doing things with your own hands.
We want to get it out there more widely, so are selling it for a 30% discount* through the end of September, with free shipping.
*making it $20, $6 cheaper than Amazon