Title: Publisher surprised by grand demand for Letchworth book
Author: Susan J. Conrad
Publisher: The Daily News
Letchworth State Park is so popular that one book publisher is finding it a challenge to keep up with demand for its book about the "Grand Canyon of the East."
Arcadia Publishing, which has published more than 2,800 titles in its "Images in America" series, didn't expect so much interest in its Letchworth State Park book, said Lynn Ruggiere, public relations coordinator for the Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based publisher.
"We did sell out of Letchworth State Park in its first month, which we did intend to be enough copies to last a year," Ruggieri said. "The book has been reprinted twice, with the first reprint being the same amount as the original print run."
The photograph-filled book features a number of rarely-seen images from the park archives, the Castile Historical Society and private collections. One shows a horse-drawn wagon making its way along a perilously rough-hewn road along the edge of the valley. Another shows a Pennsylvania Railroad train running through the valley - on tracks removed about 45 years ago.
Published in April, Ann Burlingham of Burlingham Books in Perry, initially purchased 40 copies of the book.
"The book sold quickly, so I ordered 400 more copies," Burlingham said.
The store has now sold more than 300 copies, she said.
Present Tense in Batavia has also sold several copies of the book, said owner Erica Caldwell.
"It's a good seller, especially for only being out for a few months," Caldwell said. "We have not sold out because I initially bought enough from the publisher."
The book has exceeded the publisher's expectations, but Ruggieri said she cannot pinpoint one reason for that.
"The book seems to reach an emotional point with readers," Ruggieri said. "It is also authored by an exceptional group of four dedicated authors who have gone out of their way to make this book a success."
Authors Thomas A. Breslin, Thomas S. Cook, Russell A. Judkins and Thomas C. Richens set out to tell the park's story, focusing on lesser-known area of the park such as the former Genesee Valley Canal or the Smokey Hollow and St. Helena settlements.
Each man brought their own unique knowledge and expertise to the book. Breslin, 72, is a former manager of the park, having retired in 1992; Cook, a social studies teacher at Keshequa Central School, worked with Breslin to create the park's history program in 1978; Judkins, 63, is an anthropology professor at Geneseo State College, specializing in Iroquois and local folklore; and Richens, 37, is an anthropology student who co-authored "Irondequoit," a separate volume in Arcadia's Images of America series.
"I do expect the book to continue to do well," Ruggieri said. "People are still interested and still buying."
Burlingham noted Arcadia's book is not the only Letchworth-based book selling well at her store. Canyon Light: The Seasons of Letchworth State Park by Ray Minnick has sold more than 1,000 copies at her store. The book is a collection of Minnick's most popular photographs of the park, taken during all four seasons and featuring a variety of plants, wildlife and scenic vistas.