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Museum will benefit from book of historic postcards
By Jonathan Stroud   - 02/20/2006

Daily Breeze

Preserving history using picture-postcards? Redondo Beach wrote the book on it.

In an effort to preserve city history and make a little money, the Redondo Beach Historical Commission wrote and is publishing a historical-postcard collection, with proceeds going to the museum.
On top of paying the museum's rent, the city gives the commission a small discretionary fund -- $700 -- but the commission wanted more for framing, collecting and exhibiting historical Redondo Beach letters, memorabilia and antiques.

So the commission turned to Arcadia Publishing and struck a deal: The city provided free writing and editing in exchange for free publishing, promotion and a slice of the profit.

"We've always begged and borrowed for this facility," Commissioner Mary Ann Keating said. "Having a few extra funds will help us out a lot."

The book, Redondo Beach, part of the Postcard History Series, will explore Redondo's history at the turn of the century, sell for $20 and cost the city nothing to produce.

In return, the city will make $10 off every copy it sells, and about $1 on those sold over the Internet or at a bookstore -- money that will go to improve the historical museum.

The book is only the second published look at Redondo's history -- the first is out of print.

It uses a plethora of postcards to trace the city's history through the early 20th century, when it was the hub of South Bay commercial and recreational activity.

The book deal mirrors a trend in the South Bay and in cities throughout the country, as small town historical societies partner with publishers to preserve local history -- and make money at the same time.

Arcadia Publishing is the nation's largest publisher of local history books, with over 3,000 titles covering small-town America -- more than 300 in California alone.

The publisher gives a substantial discount to the city -- such as half-price for 500 books or so plus a small cut of royalties -- and the company receives the lion's share of profits from the rest of the books sold, Keating said. Even if that isn't many, it still turns a profit, while managing to contribute to historical preservation and local civic funding.

Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach have books published through Arcadia -- with a similar donation setup -- and Santa Monica has one in the works.

For instance, Hermosa Beach's Historical Preservation Society is expanding its museum just in time for the 100th anniversary, and book proceeds have helped fund the development.

But this is the first time Arcadia will publish in Redondo Beach.

The books can be purchased locally at Barnes & Noble, Costco and other book retailers and can be found on the Web at Amazon.com and other sites. Buying the book directly from the museum ensures a $10 donation versus $1 to the museum. Copies will be available there on March 4.

The book has 128 pages and features nearly 200 black-and-white postcards featuring the pier, roller coaster and the famous Redondo Hotel.

The commission will sign and sell copies of the book at 2 p.m. March 4 and 5 at the museum during an ice cream social honoring the rehabilitation of the Morrell House, which sits next to the museum on Flagler Lane in Dominguez Park. The commission already has close to 200 orders.

The Redondo Beach museum, featuring Native American artifacts, postcards, letters and other historical items, is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

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