Hi. I’m Jennifer Bohrnstedt. My latest book is the first book in a series, and it’s based on my life-long collecting amateur vintage snapshots. I started feeling nostalgic about the 20th Century. We said good-bye, we closed that chapter, we’re rolling into the 21st Century, and as a historian I’m thinking, yes, but what was it all about and what do we make of it. And for me, part of what stays with me and impresses me is imagery, visual history, visual communications. We all have a lot to learn about who we were as a people, and how we learn that I think is in large part by looking at who we were in images.
Most of us at some time in our lives have taken a picture with a camera and inserted our thumb, and you’ll see in this picture with this little girl in her tutu that the photographer really captured her and her beauty, and her innocence, and they probably put their thumb right in there. And for me, this is really part of the story. This was her mom. This was her dad. This is the human condition
There’s amazing beauty available in your attic, in your mother’s basement, in someone’s garage sale. I’ve worked to hone that, to really cull the collection of what I think are some of the most representative, and also ones that I think help us appreciate old snapshots as fine art.
When I first turned to self-publishing, it was because Views from My Schoolroom Window was a book that I wanted to put in the hands of one of the members of the family before he passed. He was 100, then 101, and he said he’d continue to hang on until I got the book done. I was under a great deal of pressure. I couldn’t wait five to ten years to appear on a University Press’s list as something that they might be promoting or they might be putting out there. I couldn’t wait. I’ve been following Author House from its very early days and I thought this is the time, I’ve got to really talk to people there and see if they can help me, and I did. I spent a lot of time neighboring with my Design Consultant who helped shaped the book, I think in a very strong way. If my attention is needed to some detail, my Design Consultant brings it to my attention. Otherwise, I can worry on content and get the content right, and that’s really what I want to do. I don’t want to become a Publisher myself. I don’t want to be understanding all of the implications of shifting margins and pagination, and all of the issues with the marketplace. I love knowing that I’ve got trusted resources that I can turn to.
As luck would have it, when my first copy came out, I was traveling and doing research on another book, and my Design Consultant shipped it to me in Washington DC. And once I had it in my hands, I bought my ticket to get right back to Lawrence, Kansas, so I could present it to this very, very, distinguished man, then at age 102, who had been waiting. It was so satisfying putting copies into his hands, then shortly after that to distribute to his own family. It was one of the last best gifts I could give someone who had given me so much. And they were stunned how beautiful it was. I still am. I look at it on my shelf all the time and say, I say to anyone, pick the book that’s not a University Published book but don’t….you know, I could hide all of the labels. You couldn’t. It’s an equal among all of its peers.
Will I ever publish with a university press again? Very possibly, if the circumstances are different, if the market conditions are right, if I felt that they could do it the same justice, and if they could do it as quickly. But I can tell you, I’m not waiting five years on any book to come out any longer, and I think a lot of people feel like I do.