New & Noteworthy Visual Books, From Extraordinary Women to Van Gogh’s Letters

VINCENT VAN GOGH: A Life in Letters, edited by Nienke Bakker, Leo Jansen and Hans Luijten. (Thames & Hudson, $39.95.) Three curators at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam compile the artist’s correspondence to shed light on his creative process and personal life.

THE ART OF NASA: The Illustrations That Sold the Missions, by Piers Bizony. (Motorbooks, $50.) Blending a history of space exploration with a survey of illustration technology over six decades, these 200 large-format images from NASA detail such landmarks as the Space Shuttle, the I.S.S. and the mission to Mars.

THE PEOPLE: Nimiipuu, Nez Perce Tribe, by Hunter Barnes. (Reel Art, $39.95.) Barnes, a photographer, was welcomed into the close-knit Lapwai Idaho reservation from 2004 to 2008 to document its ways. These black-and-white portraits and other images capture lives at the intersection of tradition and modernity.

WINE AND THE WHITE HOUSE: A History, by Frederick J. Ryan Jr. (White House Historical Association, $55.) The Washington Post publisher tells a comprehensive story of the American presidents through the grapes and glasses they drank from.

EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: Images of Courage, Endurance and Defiance, by Tom Stoddart. (ACC Art, $45.) With a foreword by Angelina Jolie, the photojournalist shows women in war zones from Bangladesh to Mozambique.

Even if we were not living in a divisive, pandemic-ridden timeline, the metaphor of bursting into flames when frustrated or angry is a relatable one. Kevin Wilson’s NOTHING TO SEE HERE crackles with dark humor and dysfunctional family dynamics as it tells the story of Lillian, who is living a life of squandered promise until she is asked by her old friend Madison to be the governess to her two, unloved stepchildren. When agitated, these children spontaneously combust (they are not harmed), and it is Lillian’s job to keep them calm and hidden, so that they do not disrupt the squeaky-clean image of their politically connected father’s life. As Lillian and the children bond, she transforms from depressed, reluctant caretaker to fierce protector of these “fire children,” and discovers that she needs them just as much as they need her. One of the few books I would reread, just to absorb everything I can.

—Deb Amlen, “Wordplay” crossword columnist
and senior editor

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History, Fantasy And Scandal In 3 New Books On Jewelry

Jewelry has the power to ignite all sorts of feelings: desire, lust, envy, love, obsession ad infinitum. It can be a testament of undying love or a record of diminished fortunes. A piece of jewelry can drive many to life-long obsessions and even criminal acts. They can tell stories of engagements, weddings and divorces. Just as a diamond is multi-faceted, so too are the stories that come with some of the world’s most iconic jewels.

In a new book from Stellene Volandes entitled Jewels That Made History: 100 Stones, Myths and Legends, the Town & Country magazine editor chronicles the early beginnings of jewelry: from humble materials to the emergence lapis lazuli to pearls and garnets and other precious stones as empires grew and trading routes open.

There are tidbits on the first engagement ring (Mary of Burgundy’s from Archduke Maximilian of Austria), a gold band with diamonds in the shape of an M, and on the introduction of initial pendants like the gold B on a strand of pearls sported by Anne Boleyn. There are stories of royal jewels including the extravagant necklace of Marie Antoinette (that may or may not have cost her her head), crowns and tiaras and engagement rings passed down along the British royal bloodline, fantastical tales of pearls woven into the carpet of the Maharaja of Baroda and the majestically lavish Patiala necklace from Cartier that is wrapped in mystery and tells of fortunes built and lost. There’s Liza Minelli wearing what will become a hallmark of modern jewelry design – Elsa Peretti’s Bone Cuff for Tiffany & Co. The history Van Cleef & Arpels best-selling Alhambra necklace gets a mention as well as the The Heart of the Ocean diamond from the movie Titanic.

Celebrations, heists, political statement, iconic moments and smatterings of Elizabeth Taylor fill this highly impressive book which will convert many into jewelry addicts.

Two books on jewelry accompany respective museum exhibitions. And while trips to museums may be restricted at this moment in time, let these books take you on a magical and knowledge-filled ride across the world of baubles.

In Beautiful Creatures: Jewelry Inspired By The Animal Kingdom jewelry historian Marion Fasel traces how animal motifs made their way into jewel designs and establishes a link between economic, cultural and environmental factors as informants to their creations. Say, how butterflies became all the rage in brooches during times of liberations and freedom from social constricts. Or how zebras and ostriches became recurring leitmotifs as wildlife conservancy gained traction. The book is

How to Sell Digital Books at Physical Events

Digital books are a great way to get your content quickly into the hands of millions of readers. But what about selling digital books at physical events? You can tell people about your book and how great it is, but they can’t actually buy the book unless you have a kiosk set up for it or a mobile card reader to make them buy then and there. If you want a better approach to selling your digital books at physical events, then you’ll be happy to know that there is something you can do to improve your marketing.

The Sell

What are you selling? Digital books, of course. However, that’s information in a digital space and people can’t touch it (unlike physical books). So, how do you sell a digital product at a physical event that people can actually touch? It comes down to coupon codes. Some companies, such as Enthrill, are selling coupon codes at cheap prices that you can use however you want.

Here’s how it works. First, you buy the coupon codes. The prices are currently set $1.50 per code with a minimum purchase of 100 coupons. You can then upload your book to their servers and whoever inputs the code will get your book. You can also do this by making your own coupon codes and uploading books to your own website or server, which will cut down the price, but this approach requires some technical knowledge and a website under your complete control (so no free websites).

Regardless, you’ll see that even paying the $1.50 per coupon code can still yield some lucrative results.

Making a Product

Now that you have the coupon codes, what do you do with them? Do you write them down on notebook paper and hand them out? Do you write them on business cards? The best thing you can do is print them on small items that you can sell. This allows you to make your product more valuable while improving your selling ability.

For example, let’s say that you have a cookbook. You can sell a small bag of ingredients and place a tag on the bag with the coupon code. Or, you could sell spatulas, spoons or other kitchen tools and print the coupon code on them. Or, let’s say that your book is about weight loss. You can print the coupon code on pedometers, portion control plates, resistance bands or various other items. Just sell the item for $10 and you have a nice profit and a new reader. Even with the extra promotional item, you should be able to double your investment.

Simpler Approach

If getting a promotional item and printing codes on it is too hard, then don’t worry. There’s a much simpler approach that, while not as effective, can still make you a lot of money. Enthrill is willing to print the codes out on gift cards so that you can hand them out during your event. If you would prefer printing the codes …