Friday, November 16, 2012

Best of TAMU Press:

Best of University Press: Dianna Sells, Financial Manager, TAMU Press

1.      If I remember correctly, the first book released for publication was Storms Brewed in Other Men’s World (TAMU Press 1981)  by Elizabeth John. This is the first book that I remember being released and the beginning of my career with the Press; so, I would choose it because it is symbolic of my career and the successful publishing program of TAMU Press.
2.      Then, I would choose Texas Heartland because of the printrun & the design process involved.  Second book published, also in 1975.
I said that we would have to reprint the book within 3 months and we ran out in that timeframe; no one believed me.  James (Jim) Bones was a perfectionist and he had the pages and redid the entire book when Ray accidentally sent him the markup without keeping a copy.  Ray, our designer, had to redesign the entire book. 
3.      Then, I would have to choose BlackJack by Frank Vandiver.  He was such a pleasant person to work with and it began our military history presence.  Frank became the president of Texas A&M University.   At one point, Frank and his wife, Margaret, lived downstairs in our old office building, the board of directors building.

4.      Then, I would choose With Santa Anna in Texas.  The introduction to our Texas History list.  A seller to this day and a notable history book that has stood the test of time.  Third release, in 1975.

5.      Of course, there would be the Centennial History of Texas A&M and the PictorialHistory of Texas A&M, because they established our Centennial Book Series and were the first history books published by the press.

6.      And, then I would choose E M (Buck) Schiwetz portfolio and books.  He was the Texas A&M artist in residence when I came to work at the Press.  He was commissioned to paint the buildings, so we decided to put together the Aggieland Portfolio, which was not a book, but prints of the paintings. He lived down stairs in the old board of directors’ building, the original building in which Texas A&M University Press was housed.  I would spend my lunch hour watching Buck paint and we would go to McDonalds and eat a Big Mac together.  He was such a character and would tell me his life stories.  I remembered the story he told me about a lady coming up to his dinner table one night at a nice restaurant in Houston and she asked him to sign her napkin.  He was “not very happy” about it.  He couldn’t even eat lunch alone.
So, when we had the big gathering of authors for a signing at the library we had many an author there.  I walked up to Buck in this large audience and said, “would you please autography my hand?”  He laughed and signed it with a permanent marker.  Then, author and Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale grabbed my other hand and signed it also with a permanent marker.

7.      Grasses of Texas by Frank Gould.  Frank was a wonderful teacher and leader in this field and a contributor of permanent knowledge

8.      I would have to choose the Tom Lea book, The Two Thousand Yard Stare, because of his many talents and the fact that he created the TAMU Press logo.  He was such a wonderful person to meet and know and a talented, well-known artist.

9.      And, I can’t forget about Leon Hale’s books because he was an Amazing Writer and a personal friend to me.
Now as for some of my recent favorites—
10.  DOUGWELSH, I have been an avid fan of his for decades because I love gardening.

11.  Heirloom Gardening in the South—Welch and Grant

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