Book Title: Delaware from Railways to Freeways / First State, Second Phase by Dave Tabler
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 110 pages
Genre: American History, Colonial
Publisher: Dave Tabler
Publication Date: Nov 1, 2023
Content Rating: G. None needed. Works for all audiences.
“Dave Tabler’s Delaware from Railways to Freeways is a fascinating history text covering important sites and artifacts from the first state. The book includes a wealth of historical and social insights into the production techniques and ultimate significance behind the early Delaware artifacts and events it covers. It makes note of the geographical importance of certain buildings and landscapes as well. Detailed images appear on each page of the book alongside brief, evocative descriptions of their meaning and significance. The result is an involving pictorial history of the evolution of Delaware, complemented by distinguishing coverage of the development of the state’s transportation infrastructure.” — Foreword Reviews
“Tabler’s second entry in a trilogy covering the history of Delaware rides the rails into the First State’s storied past, covering the tumultuous yet prosperous 19th century and the dawn of the 20th, that era of iron, steam, Civil War, suffragettes, technical marvels, and surprises both fun—like the history of scrapple, or the suspender-and-pants rig known as a “breeches buoy” used to rescue mariners—to the morbid, like public whipping posts or the jolting tale of a child’s corpse being sent through the mail. The stories of trends, people, and material goods that Tabler highlights, in short and inviting bursts of text, are interesting and well buttressed by the copious illustrations.” — Booklife
“The contents are entertaining and varied, offering glimpses of little-known aspects of American history, from Colonial-era enmity between Whigs and Tories to inventions such as the Manby mortar, a cannon-like device used in rescuing people from sinking ships, to a bartending goose.” –– Kirkus Reviews
“Delaware from Railways to Freeways is the second book in a series that began with Delaware Before the Railroads and whose planned conclusion is Delaware from Freeways to e-Ways. In his preface, author Dave Tabler touts the advent of the railroad, saying that it “ushered in a prosperous era for the First State” due to Delaware’s “strategic location” on the Delaware Bay. The book is mostly photographs, all of which are vibrant and compelling and include objects that would not be present in most histories of the state, such as John Jones’s adjustable peach sorter: an 1874 invention that revolutionized peach sorting. Or the crawlspace in the home of Quaker couple Daniel and Mary Corbit, in which they hid a fugitive slave in 1845. Tabler’s captions are bite-sized yet satisfying, offering readers a plethora of history without making them feel overworked. …More a coffee-table book than a proper history, Dave Tabler’s Delaware from Railways to Freeways is a worthy read for any devotee of Delaware’s past.“ — Indie Reader
“Delaware from Railways to Freeways offers readers a captivating journey through Delaware’s lesser-known history. It is an excellent choice for those who relish reading about unusual facts and harbor a passion for history, even if it occasionally leans toward trivia. This book provides a valuable contribution to understanding Delaware’s rich heritage.“ — Literary Titan
Delaware from Railways to Freeways covers eye-opening information about the region and its residents from 1800 to 1907. Laying out a captivating journey through pictures and offering up little-known anecdotes, entertainingly educational stories, and a comprehensive deep dive, Tabler gives insightful commentary on inventions, contributors to society, and transformative technology. History lovers of all ages will immensely enjoy this trove of 19th-century lore.
That old adage about not judging a book cover by its cover has always made me snicker. A cover presentation is exactly how readers judge a book. An author can have the most original, striking content ever, but if the cover doesn’t stand out, or is poorly designed, the reader passes it by. The cover is like a store display. It catches the eye, makes the reader curious about the curated world it hints at.
I represented artists and photographers in New York City for many years before I first published a book. Whenever an artist or photographer got an assignment for a book cover, the designer was always very clear about who the audience was, how the cover design would pique a reader’s curiosity, and why that particular artist/photographers’ style was most appropriate to that project.
There’s nothing random about a well-crafted book cover. It’s a marketing piece, an artistic statement about the author’s worldview, and a first handshake between the author and the potential reader.
Despite my background, I don’t feel qualified to design a book cover myself. I’ve worked with Onur Burc on my first two books, a world-class designer who’s designed hundreds of book covers. He knows what current trends are and how to harness them in his work.
When I approached Onur about the cover for “Delaware from Railways to Freeways” I had a general idea of the visual somehow representing a train track leading into a roadway. Onur came up with the concept of using the outline of the Delaware map as a portal. That magical transformation from railbed to roadbed sparks once the train track crosses the portal threshold. Perfect!
We tried putting the yellow spark graphic in the locomotive headlamp, but that took the focus off the railbed/roadbed conversion. This type of experimentation is crucial in book cover design, I think. It’s a given that you’re going to have to massage design elements through multiple iterations to arrive at the final version.
“Delaware from Railways to Freeways” is the second in a three-book series. Creating this cover was much easier than coming up with a brand-new concept for the first book in the series. The typeface and its placement follow from the first book. The choice of illustration versus photography was already in place, as was the general idea of what that illustration would have to look like in order to play off “Delaware Before the Railroads.” My time on the marketing side of the visuals business taught me that any type of series—books, video games, podcasts—needs to clearly connect each unit in that series to the others via branding. A good book cover is just part of that branding, but a big one!
Ten year old Dave Tabler decided he was going to read the ‘R’ volume from the family’s World Book Encyclopedia set over summer vacation. He never made it from beginning to end. He did, however, become interested in Norman Rockwell, rare-earth elements, and Run for the Roses.
Tabler’s father encouraged him to try his hand at taking pictures with the family camera. With visions of Rockwell dancing in his head, Tabler press-ganged his younger brother into wearing a straw hat and sitting next to a stream barefoot with a homemade fishing pole in his hand. The resulting image was terrible.
Dave Tabler went on to earn degrees in art history and photojournalism despite being told he needed a ‘Plan B.’
Fresh out of college, Tabler contributed the photography for The Illustrated History of American Civil War Relics, which taught him how to work with museum curators, collectors, and white cotton gloves. He met a man in the Shenandoah Valley who played the musical saw, a Knoxville fellow who specialized in collecting barbed wire, and Tom Dickey, brother of the man who wrote ‘Deliverance.’
In 2006 Tabler circled back to these earlier encounters with Appalachian culture as an idea for a blog. AppalachianHistory.net today reaches 375,000 readers a year.
Dave Tabler moved to Delaware in 2010 and became smitten with its rich past. He no longer copies Norman Rockwell, but his experience working with curators and collectors came in handy when he got the urge to photograph a love letter to Delaware’s early heritage. This may be the start of something.
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