René Herse Books are Here!

1945_mixte

While I was in Paris and presented the first copy of the René Herse book to Lyli Herse, the container with the bulk of the books continued its voyage to Seattle. We finally received the shipment last Monday!

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We immediately started packing and mailing books to readers who pre-ordered the book. You should receive your copy soon. We look forward to hearing how you like the book.

box_test

Mailing a 424-page book that weighs over 6 pounds is not a simple task. The weight of the book alone can cause badly bumped corners if the book slides around inside its box. We tested numerous packaging solutions (above), but none really worked. So we designed foam corners to protect the book and had them custom-made from recycled foam. The corners fit inside the box and prevent the book from moving around. They absorb the impact if the box falls onto a hard surface, and they make sure that a bumped corner of the box does not result in a damaged book. After all the work we put into this book, it would be a shame if it got damaged in shipping!

To give you a taste of the book, here are three of the bikes that are featured in the book. The photo at the top of the post is a never-ridden, completely original 1945 mixte, made just after the end of World War II. There are very few survivors from this early period in Herse’s work, and were were incredibly lucky to find one that remains exactly as it left Herse’s shop.

1951_sportif

Above is a classic 1951 Sportif that displays the craftsmanship and design of Herse in his prime. Even though there is a lot going on with racks, lights and cantilever brakes, Herse made it all look elegant and coherent.

1980_camping

This is one of the last bikes built in the Herse shop, a 1980 Campeur that shows how the classic Herse features were updated during the late 1970s, with simpler lugs, a new stem design and ultra-long points on the fork crown. The craftsmanship on this bike is amazing, with every cable running inside the frame tubes – not just the rear brake, but also both derailleurs and even the remote control for the generator that powers the lights. These are just three of the twenty bikes that are featured in multiple studio photographs each, in addition to the hundreds of historic photographs of Herse’s bikes and their riders.

Click here for more information about the René Herse book or to order your copy.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. One of our companies, Bicycle Quarterly Press publishes cycling books, while Compass Bicycles Ltd. makes and distributes high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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24 Responses to René Herse Books are Here!

  1. Two Thumbs Up – looking forward to reading the Rene’ Herse book. :-)

  2. Linwood Hines says:

    I RECEIVED MINE! The foam corners saved a damaged corner thank you! THE BOOK IS FABULOUS!!! and I don’t normally care for such nostalgic stuff, but it IS a treasure! What a fantasticly researched and presented tribute to not only this superb craftsman but the craftsmanship of handmade bicycles and the art of medal. Thank you Jan for your superb efforts.

    • Matthew J says:

      Mine arrived safe and sound.

      I do not think of it as nostalgia, but rather a fairly detailed history. There are no tugs at the heart strings in the book.

  3. RodneyAB says:

    Being a huge fan of Black and White film photography, and bicycles, the book is a treat to my eyes and mind, and I am reading bits of text, but the photographic reproductions are first and foremost at this point! . . .wonderful

  4. Leonard says:

    Received my copy today here in Mid-Michigan. It arrived in excellent (i.e. perfect) condition. Thanks again Jan.

  5. Damian says:

    Mine also arrived yesterday, and I’m just beginning to enjoy it this morning. It’s a marvelous work–not to mention a very weighty tome–and I know I will be savoring it for years to come. I do want to add one other note regarding Jan’s careful packaging: Not only was the book well protected from knocks and bumps by his specially-designed foam corners, it was also shrink-wrapped to protect it from the effects of moisture during transit. It couldn’t have arrived in better condition. Altogether a beautiful job, of which Jan and his helpers can be justifiably proud!

  6. Haushalter says:

    I hope that I will get mine soon !!!

  7. Paul Ahart says:

    My copy arrived yesterday and I am more than thrilled. I’ve started reading it completely, and when finished, it will be one of my most prized possessions. I may never own an Herse bicycle, but this book comes pretty close. I especially love all the wonderful photos of Lyli and the competitive cyclist she was in her youth. Having a daughter who is also an avid cycist, racer and cycle clothing consultant, makes this extremely satisfying to me. Jan, thank you for this work of passion and love.

  8. Question: On the mixte in the first photo above, is that a speedometer/odometer behind the headlight, and, if so, was it operated by a belt running from what looks like a visible pulley to the hub? Fascinating technology–a little bit Rube Goldberg, but very effective! I’m old enough to remember odometers that sat down by the hub, and speedometers/odometers that were operated by a semi-flexible cable, which seemed a great advance because you could keep the readout on the handlebars. This looks like it might have been an attempt to keep the display where it could be easily read.

    • Yes, it is a speedometer/odometer. Made by “E.D.”, it is a beautifully made little unit. They were very popular in the 1930s and early 1940s. They ran with a rubber band/belt from a pulley on the hub. On this bike, the speedo was never hooked up. Later, some riders installed them on the fork blade, so they could use a front bag.

  9. Got my book in today. Temps are 0 – 10 deg above zero so have to wait till the book warms up before I crack it open. Box it came in had 2 damaged corners but the book was undamaged thanks to your thoughtful packaging. Thanks Jan!

  10. I’ve been a subscriber to your publications since they were anounced. I’ve read every issue and always been pleased. I also loved your other 2 books. The Rene Herse book is really wonderful, and quite a piece of work and better than I imagined. Congratulations on a job well done!
    (On my shipping label was a number besides my name; was that order number?)

  11. Looking forward to receiving my copy.

    You might want to reconsider the description, though, in particular describing Rene Herse riders as a “relatively classless group.” I get what you’re saying, but still!

    • They really were relatively classless. Madame Porthault told me how she was surprised when after years of riding with people, she found out their professions. One guy who had an old bike was working in a high government position, while another was working on the assembly line at Renault. She said she never would have guessed…

      It’s similar among amateur racers in the U.S. today. Some of them are truly poor, living from paycheck to paycheck, yet save all their money for a nice bike. Others are well-off and the bike represents only a small portion of their disposable income.

  12. Rod Bruckdorfer says:

    My Rene Herse Book arrived in today’s post. It is a gift from my lovely wife. I am recovering from hand surgery, hence the timing is perfect.

    Cheers,

    Rod
    Baltimore, MD

  13. Jeff Feet says:

    Just got my copy. A quick glance through tells me I need to take the rest of the week off. Spectacular photos, and the reproductions of old pictures are great. Thank you for the effort.

    AND, thank you for the extra packaging, it looks like the post office used my copy to push a truck with, yet the book, and sleeve are perfect.

  14. Scott Snelling says:

    My local bookshop (Greenlights in Brooklyn, NY) has carried your previous two books with prominent display, but said that their distributor does not show the Rene Herse book as available. Will you be distributing this one to bookshops or direct order only?

    • The previous two books were re-edited by Rizzoli after the first editions were sold out. That way, they now are available through the normal distribution channels. I don’t foresee Rizzoli being interested in the René Herse book, because the production cost was too high. With their overhead, the book would have to retail for $ 150, and that becomes prohibitive.

      However, Bicycle Quarterly Press does sell to bookstores directly. We also appreciate direct orders from our readers, since we are still a long way from recovering our costs (much less the labor) that went into the book.

  15. Tim Evans says:

    Just another Thank You for the good packaging. The box showed rough handling – parcels are sorted by throwing (I was a USPS carrier) – but the book was perfect. Thank you.

  16. djconnel says:

    I got the book as a Christmas present. Wow! It substantially exceeded my already high expectations. Fantastic work: anyone who appreciates cycling history, whether or not they’ve read Bicycle Quarterly, should read this. I’d expected nice photos, sure, and maybe a reprint of BQ articles, but the presentation here is polished, fresh, and coherent. And the print quality and editing is fantastic for such a small-scale project. I can open to any random page and become immediately engrossed.

    • It’s hard for small publishers, especially in the bike world, to get respect, because many projects indeed are small-scale and a little amateurish. Bicycle Quarterly Press is different – we use professional editing, professional photography and the best printers. The fact that our first books have gone on to become best sellers in the mainstream book market under the Rizzoli imprint shows that we don’t need to shy away from any comparison. (Rizzoli, after all, is best known for their lavish architecture books.)

      We do keep our overhead low, which is why we can keep our books affordable. When you look at other books on specialized topics, you see that the René Herse book really “should” cost $ 150.

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