By David Sennema
I had no concept of the significance of the day the publishers came to me. Well, they didn’t exactly come to me….but they came to a postcard show at which my wife and I were dealers. We bought and sold antique postcards as a retirement business for many years after retiring in 1996.
We had a booth at the show along with many other postcard dealers, but we were the only ones from South Carolina, which turned out to be advantageous. There were representatives of Arcadia Publishing, with their own booth just down the row from us, displaying a sign inviting any and all who might be interested to talk with them about writing local histories illustrated with postcards.
Arcadia grew up in England and had just opened an office in Charleston, South Carolina, after having some success with an office in the New England states. The company was moving into the South and was eager to sign authors for its local history series.
Having recently retired, Marty and I had the time, and we also had what we modestly claimed was the world’s best and most extensive collection of Columbia, South Carolina view postcards. After the Arcadia reps explained what they needed and what the arrangements would be we signed a contract that very day and went to work on our book, Columbia, South Carolina – A Postcard History.
As Marty loves to tell people, the book pretty well occupied our dining room table for the next year as we went about selecting 220 postcards from our collection, researching and writing labels, acknowledgements, an introduction, an explanation of old postcards and an index.
The book hit the market in 1997, and we love to note that it made the local best seller list of The State newspaper on October 12, 1997. Since then we’ve done two revisions of the book, and Arcadia has updated the cover on two occasions. It can usually be found in the local Barnes and Noble stores and is available from them and others via the internet.
Until I started writing fiction and discovered how difficult it is to be published, I never appreciated the ease with which that postcard book came into being.