Last week saw the publication of arguably my highest profile book yet: a contribution to the iconic Haynes Manuals series all about vinyl kit, culture and technique.
Yes, you did read that right: a Haynes manual about that most cherished of musical formats, the vinyl record. The manual was the idea of my co-author, Patrick Fuller, who wisely thought that it was about time that Haynes – a company that’s best-known for automotive manuals but that has been publishing “general interest” manuals for a few years now – published a practical guide to the world of vinyl. From the moment he contacted me to ask whether I’d like to get involved, I knew it was a project I wanted to get involved with. After all, how many chances will a music nerd like me have to write a Haynes manual?
Together, Patrick and I worked on the book solidly for the best part of six months. Throughout, our aim was to put together something that fitted with the series ethos, but also captured the passion that those of us in love with vinyl and record collecting feel about our hobby.
The content is a mixture of practical advice about vinyl records and kit – think how to select and set-up a turntable, amp and speakers, ways to store and clean your records, where to “dig” for records, basic DJ technique, and so on – with factual features (how a record is mastered and manufactured, the history of the format, details of the biggest selling singles and albums of all time etc.), light-hearted articles (a run down of terrible record sleeves from Bristol record shop owner Mike Savage, our stab at explaining how you can turn your front room into a musical festival, club or legendary classical venue) and “how-to” style tutorials. We’ve also included quotes from some well-known DJs and record collectors, while there are also pieces examining key aspects of vinyl culture in the 21st century.
We’re naturally delighted with the finished article and early feedback has been very good. Haynes has been working hard to get the book into an interesting range of stores (think record shops and chains like HMV as well as Waterstones, Amazon and so forth) and there seems to be a fair amount of interest out there from potential buyers. While there should be enough in there to excite the nerds, it was written in such a way as to appeal to beginners, too.
To launch the book, we’ve fittingly decided to have a little bash in one of London’s finest independent record stores, Love Vinyl in Hoxton. This is set to take place on Thursday 2nd November between 5pm and 8pm. Entrance is free, you will be able to buy copies of the book and there will be DJs providing great music (Bill Brewster, who is featured in the book, alongside myself, special guests and Love Vinyl shop staff). You can find out more via the Facebook event page.
Should you wish to buy the book, it’s in all good stores now (both real world and virtual). Thanks to all those who assisted us along the way, particularly my longtime DJ partner Oli Ackroyd and Bristol-based photographer Chris Cooper, both of who played a big part in how the book ended up looking.