You wouldn’t know it from the roadside, but turn in here, follow the driveway a couple hundred yards, and a book shopping complex opens up before you. No sign at the roadside will tell you it’s there. It’s the ultimate insider’s bookshop.
There are two main buildings here. The upper one, the Book Lodge, is conventional. The first to greet you is less so.
This castle protecting treasures inside was once a manure tank. With some modifications, it now contains thousands of books. Other structures on this property, including farm sheds, extra houses and a barn, also contain books.
Nestled on the cusp of Green Lake in central Wisconsin, this shop is located on the farmland of Lenore and Lloyd Dickmann. Though they have been selling books here for years now, Leonore once taught at a university and later sold books out of a former schoolhouse in nearby Markesan. To hear their story, I recommend watching a short piece put together by Bill Geist and CBS Sunday Morning that can be found at this link: Bill Geist Story.
Since the time of Geist’s piece, the Dickmanns have slowed down a bit. Both have reached their eighties now, and they have friends and family help them run the shop. The shop is open only on Saturdays, 9 to 3, in June, July and August. To find it, you’ll need a map. The address is W1778 County Road K, Markesan, WI 53946. If you want to call ahead, the number is (920) 398-3375.
Good, old country books are to be found here, with an emphasis on old. The books in the castle are predominantly from the period 1880 to 1935 or so. They are but loosely organized, but that’s ok, because the appeal here is to those who are interested in books as objects.
There are tables and tables of decorative bindings, some quite plain and many quite breathtaking. Ephemera collectors will appreciate the countless book plates and bookstore labels within these books, along with all the other addenda that previous owners saw fit to add to them over the years.
The catwalk along the “rotunda“ holds yet more books, including a large number of juveniles. Many of the old series books are here, including a fair number with jackets.
Back at the Lodge, the front room has a similar set up. Wisconsin books are found here and I was delighted to find another Zona Gale first. I also found some Christopher Morley firsts absent from my personal collection and a first of Salinger’s Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters for $12.00. The larger back room is a digger’s paradise. Old books are tossed in with those of a more recent vintage. Prices are low to modest, though the occasional $100 price jolts you from time to time.
Like the books, business practices here are old fashioned. Lenore figured my bill on the back of a paper place mat. Not all of it would fit on my scanner for this picture. Credit cards are not accepted, so bring cash or a checkbook.
Many thanks to Chuck Whiting, who alerted me to this gem in my own backyard.
Anyone wanting to visit and make a weekend of it will probably spend some time on Green Lake. Most recreation and, well, most everything around here revolves around the lake. Here is a quick snap from the county park located at the end of County Road K, where it meets Highway 73, revealing the size of this lake.
If you drive from Madison, Wisconsin, the easiest route to take is Highway 151 north to Columbus, and then Highway 73 up to K. If you stop in Columbus, you can visit their lovely downtown library. Here is a picture of it, just because.
Cool New Book in Bookstores Now: About the Author by Nicholas Basbanes and published by Fine Books Press--a collection of essays and interviews with authors from Basbanes' days writing for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
There are a couple of magazines on newsstands now that contain features that may be of interest to book, pulp and magazine collectors.
The Spring issue, no. 29, of Illustration magazine devotes the full issue to the work of pulp artist Hugh J. Ward. The issue was compiled by pulp historian David Saunders with the help of the Ward family. It contains 96, mostly color, pages interspersing a long biographical essay with cover reproductions and original art from the breadth of his career. Many of the reproductions fill a full page. If you haven't handled a copy of Illustration before, the production standards are very high. It is perfect bound and printed on heavy stock, with superb typography and brilliant color reproduction. For $15.00, you are essentially buying a paperback book. Pulp and vintage paperback collectors, check the back page. Reissues of the first three issues are now available from the publisher. Issue #1 contains a feature on James Avati. Issue #2 contains features on
Norman Saunders and Frank Frazetta. And issue #3 contains a
feature on Robert Maguire.
The July issue of Hot Rod Deluxe contains a history of old American car magazines dating from the '40s to the '60s. It is by no means exhaustive as a bibliography, but it does contain 12 pages of brief overviews of all of the major custom and rodding magazines from the period with lots of photographs of covers. There are also a couple of pages devoted to early racing programs and pamphlets from the thirties and a photo of the first hot rodding magazine, Throttle, which debuted in January 1941 for ten cents. Some of the other magazines featured are Hop Up, Honk!, which later became Car Craft, Custom Rodder, Rods Illustrated, Soup-Up, and Street Rodder, to name a few.
Hot Rod Deluxe is a monthly, so you may only have as many as 30 days to snap up this issue. Illustrated is a quarterly, and the summer issue should be arriving soon. So snap it up while you still can. Some bonus scans from each follow just below.
Cool New Book in Bookstores Now--Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder, founder of boingboing.net and editor of Make magazine. Published by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Books. Frauenfelder takes us along with several of his Make-like DIY projects.