About the Revised Digital Edition
Ever since The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay sold out and began going for a few hundred dollars or more in the secondary market, people began asking me when I was either reprinting or publishing a revised edition of the book. And while I knew there was demand for the Vee-Jay book, I was concerned over the economics of reprinting.
The Vee-Jay book was published over 15 years ago in New Orleans. Reprinting the book would not be a simple case of calling the printer and having him use the existing digital files to roll the presses. The original printing plates used for the Vee-Jay book were destroyed in the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, and even had they survived, technology has changed so much over the past 15 years that they would have been useless. Thus, I would have been required to go through the entire prepress process, effectively driving up the cost of a reprint to the full cost of a new book. With high production costs due to the use of color throughout the book, the cost per book on a small run would have been high, forcing a retail price of about $100 to make the reprint profitable. And while the cost per book would have gone down with a larger press run, I did not make sense to pay more overall printing costs and run the risk of being stuck with a large inventory of books that could take ten or more years to sell.
Fortunately, some of the younger customers of my books began asking me if I had considered doing the Vee-Jay book as a digital eBook. At first, I was troubled by the idea. There is something wonderful about holding a beautiful book in your hands. Surely I would miss the feel of the pages and the experience of turning the pages. And as a collector, I love having my bookshelves filled with books. An eBook would not be on my shelf or proudly displayed on my coffee table. It would be stored in an iPad just like music was stored in my iPhone. And that last thought made me realize that there was a place in the world for digital books.
I love collecting, owning and playing vinyl records. I love the look and feel of a 12-inch album cover. I love removing the vinyl from its jacket and placing it on my turntable. But if I am on an airplane or in a hotel room, I love that I can still hear music by playing my iPhone. Just as there is a place in my world for vinyl records, CDs and digital music files, there is room in my world for hardcover books, paperback books and, dare I say it, digital eBooks. And so the decision was made to publish the Vee-Jay book as an eBook. Not only would a digital book solve my production cost and inventory problems, but it would also fulfill a need for those who could not afford the original hardcover book and for those who wanted the convenience of taking my books with them. (People always complain about how heavy my books are!)
Once the decision was made to do an eBook, I realized that I could not merely put out the 1998 book as it was originally published. Oh sure, the book got great reviews when it first came out and demand for the Vee-Jay book had not diminished. But I learned a lot of cool stuff in the past 15 years and realized I needed to do a revised edition so that I could incorporate new information and images. This would also give me the opportunity to do some things differently and correct a few errors along the way.
As I got into the project, I began to realize all the cool things that you can do with an eBook. One of the problems with the Vee-Jay book was that although it contained great stories, the reader could get bogged down with the pages containing minute details about the record labels and trail off areas. To solve this problem, I re-edited the book by placing all such information at the end of each chapter, giving the reader the opportunity to skip the label details without missing any of the stories. And to make it easier for someone to fly past the dull but necessary information tailored for collectors, each chapter contains a green line at the point where the stories end and the record label details begin. You can merely tap on the highlighted page number and skip forward to the next chapter, bypassing the highly detailed information. (And while this certainly improves the overall reading experience, sometimes you may want to go through the final pages of each chapter just to look at all the beautiful labels.)
The digital book also gives the reader the ability to navigate pages by touching the screen. This is particularly helpful to “turn to” a page referenced in the text. By merely touching the page reference, the desired page appears on the screen. And after checking out the new page, you can touch the GET BACK key to take you back to where you once belonged (or at least back to where you were reading). The digital book also gives you the ability to enlarge images. This is particularly helpful when you want to read text in advertisements and on record labels. It’s a really cool feature that can’t be done in a regular book.
Other eBook features include the ability to read in little or no lighting and access to the interest. The book contains a few links that will take you to information that will be updated when warranted.
Now that I have undertaken my first eBook, I gotta admit I am quite excited about it. I hope you enjoy the eBook as much as I have putting it together.
Reviews refer to print edition
Get this book! That’s my review. Get this book!
Mr. Spizer, who is a contributor to Beatlefan and Beatlology magazines, has rewritten the standards for reference books! Detailed facts are presented with clarity in a logical, impressive, oversized volume. It is impressive because Mr. Spizer has documents and over 600 colour illustrations to back his facts. His book is impressive because of his thorough presentation. In a recent correspondence to Mr. Spizer, a Louisiana lawyer, I commented that because of his ability to dig and retrieve the truth, I hoped that I would always be on his side of the courtroom.
The book chronicles the Vee-Jay Records story, as it pertains to The Beatles, including advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. Mr. Spizer has compiled a complete description of how Vee-Jay lost the Beatles to Capitol Records and their fruitless legal attempts to retain their 16-song Beatles rights.
Copies of original Vee-Jay documents and correspondence validate when, where, and how many Beatles records were pressed and sold. Details are presented, backed by illustrations, to show the differences of the many varieties of Vee-Jay albums, singles, and labels. Clear, instructional facts are given to distinguish a counterfeit Vee-Jay record from a Beatles’ original. (There are many different fakes.)
I have only one small criticism. Vee-Jay once used an innovative ad-campaign to promote their Records of Significance. Mr. Spizer chose to use the Significance theme in all of his chapter headings. I found this unnecessary.
The book costs $50 U.S., but it is absolutely worth every nickel.
The World Beatles Forum, Vol. 3, No. 6, May/June 1999
NAMED “BEATLES BOOK OF THE YEAR” BY GOLDMINE MAGAZINE
“The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay is a landmark book that will easily rate as a “must have” addition to the library of any serious Beatles collector or music historian. Even casual fans of the group will no doubt find this book to be extremely entertaining, enjoyable and enlightening.” (Goldmine, Issue 479, Dec. 4, 1998)
“This photo-rich, exhaustively researched book offers the reader a comprehensive look at the Beatles’ first releases in the U.S. It’s a must-have for any serious Beatles fan or collector.” (Billboard, May 16, 1998)
“Bruce Spizer has pulled off a major coup. A visual feast with every label variation, sleeve design, advert, document and mailer presented in full, glorious colour, and in an easily accessible form. No Beatles collector can afford to be without this masterpiece of a book.” (Record Collector)
“Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles Records on Vee-Jay is a stunning and masterful work–one of the most useful and informative books about The Beatles ever published. Lavishly appointed and extremely detailed, the book is an enormously satisfying volume of tremendous historical importance documenting this extremely complicated and often misunderstood chapter in the history of The Beatles in America. This is one book that is certainly of significant interest to every Beatlefan concerned–a souvenir of their appearances on Vee-Jay that is well worth the price of admission.” (Beatlefan, Issue #112, May-June 1998)
BEATLES BOOK OF THE YEAR?
Wow. Bruce Spizer, a lawyer and CPA from New Orleans, has come up with an early candidate for Beatles book of the year. This meticulously researched and beautifully presented tome finally presents the truth behind one of the murkiest and least understood chapters in The Beatles’ story: their association with the small U.S. record label Vee-Jay. Filled to the brim with reproductions of record sleeves, record labels, Vee-Jay corporate documents, telegrams, advertisements, and legal documents (and more!), Spizer somehow finds space in this book to present a well-written (and oftimes humorous) text that chronicles the Vee-Jay story in amazing detail.
Moreover, Spizer has gone out and done what so few seem to do these days: primary research. The sheer amount of new information contained here would be well-worth the price if that were all “The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay” had to offer. It isn’t. From the color photo reproductions to the fantastic layout from the choice of paper stock to the beautifully designed end papers, this is without a doubt the best presented Beatles book ever produced–and it’s a private publication!
And within, revelations abound! From the first ever accurate information regarding release dates of “Introducing The Beatles” to the complete story of the courtroom proceedings that eventually prevented Vee-Jay from issuing further Beatles product. Minutiae regarding Vee-Jay’s pressings, their ad campaigns, marketing strategies. This is an absolute must for the serious Beatles scholar and a hell of a wanna-have even for the more casual collector.
Spizer is now considering a sequel: a similar tome on The Beatles on Capitol Records. One can only hope he takes up the challenge! In the meantime, I can merely bestow the highest possible compliments and accolades to him on this terrific piece of work. It’s so damned good, I wish I had written it.
The 910 Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 6, May/June 1998
Here we have an entire book devoted to Beatles records released on the Vee-Jay label and its Tollie subsidiary. Sound like a short book? Wrong. Sound uninteresting? You obviously haven’t seen this book. Author Bruce Spizer has taken a footnote in the Beatles story and spun it into a gorgeous 242-page hardcover volume. In his diligent pursuit of every detail about this subject, Spizer has assembled everything from record sleeves to royalty statements, making this one of the best-looking Beatles tomes ever published. The glossy pages are packed with illustrations, which not only evoke Beatlemania, but also reveal a lot about the way records were made and sold in the early ’60s. There are fascinating insights into how the Beatles were signed to Capitol, how Vee-Jay tried to cash in on Beatlemania and how Capitol tried to stop them. Spizer is a lawyer and gives special insight into the legal battles between the two labels. In fact he has researched this book as though he were preparing for a court case, leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to tell the story of the Beatles on Vee-Jay. This is–to use the lingo favored by Vee-Jay’s press department–a fine book of significant interest.
Discoveries, September 1998
Songs, Pictures… is one of the most amazing Beatles collecting guides to have come out in recent years. It is similar in look (and weight!) to that of From Star Club to Cavern as far as quality of detail and of layout and production. A very superb book with professionally-produced photographs, all in full colour. The investigative approach Bruce applied to his book is evident in the detailed information in his book, from label variations from the different pressing plants to original record distribution paperwork, royalties certificates and even magazine advertising invoices!
Of particular interest to collectors should be the new cataloguing method Bruce uses to list the various pressings. Since Vee-Jay had as many variations of each release as they did months in which they pressed Beatles’ records, this numbering system is ideal reference for collectors. It sets the standard by which all pricing guides in the future will no doubt follow. I highly recommend that anyone interested in buying any of the original Vee-Jay pressings should have this book close at hand so you know exactly what you’re getting into!
Beatlology Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1, September/October 1998
“This incredible book goes far beyond being a discography. No question this is the best Beatle book of 1998.” (Daytrippin’, Issue 5, Winter 1999)
“The best and most accurate research on the subject I have seen, with previously unknown or publicized information. A beautiful and most interesting book.” (Alan Livingston, President of Capitol Records, 1961-1968)
“The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay provides the answer to every question any Beatle record collector has ever had about Vee-Jay and its involvement with The Beatles.” (Good Day Sunshine, May 1988)
“Remember what Lewisohn did with the performances and the Abbey Road sessions. Well this one is the ultimate one on Vee-Jay Records. It’s just one sea of delight as soon as you open it!” (Beatles Unlimited Magazine, the Netherlands, July/August 1998)
“All in all an incredible book! Highly recommended for the serious or casual Beatles fan. Definitely seek this one out.” (Belmo’s Beatleg News, Issue #58, Summer 1998)
“Bruce is like the Lt. Columbo of Beatles records collecting.” (Perry Cox, author of The Official Price Guide to the Beatles Records and Memorabilia)
“This book is a must for the Beatle record collector. You get thousands of dollars worth of Beatle records (or at least great color photos of rare records, common records, picture sleeves, promos, etc.)” (Rick Rann, co-author of The Beatles Memorabilia Price Guide)
“I would just like to say that The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay book is by far one of the best in the Beatles collectible market today. Being a graphic designer and a Beatles fan, I am impressed by not only the content, but the quality of the layout, the attention to detail and the computer-generated documents where needed. I was completely astounded at having obtained the original artwork production invoices. So, koodos to everyone involved!” (Andrew Croft, Editor of Beatlology Magazine)
“Absolutamente indispensible.” (Sequimos Juntos Beatles Exclusivamente, Mexico, No. 15, 1998)