Cave Books After Twenty Years

by Paul Steward

NSS News, February 2002, Page 60

In 1981, several cavers combined their money, knowledge, and their love of books to form a non-profit press devoted to the publishing of cave and karst related material. Cave Books, an affiliate of the Cave Research Foundation was formed to do just that. Who better to publish books about caves then cavers? Twenty years later, and with twenty-six books, various maps, and numerous CRF Annual Reports in print, Cave Books is still going strong.

  Our first book was The Grand Kentucky Junction. A companion to The Longest Cave, this book provides an intimate glimpse into the personal thoughts of the seven cavers who made the connection of the Flint Ridge Cave System to Mammoth Cave. Since that first book, Cave Books has gone on to become the largest publisher of cave and karst books in the world. Several of our books are reprints of cave adventure classics. Some of our latest books include Deep Secrets: The Discovery and Exploration of Lechuguilla Cave, Emergence, a novel; a revised edition of The Darkness Beckons, and our latest book The Life and Death of Floyd Collins. Coming soon is a spooky book written by Colleen O'Connor, Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave. Other books in progress are an Introduction to Speleology by Arthur Palmer and Kathleen Lavoie, and another book by Colleen O'Connor Olson entitled Prehistoric Cavers of Mammoth Cave.

 We recently printed our first mail order catalog, increased our presence with on-line book dealers, and now have our own web page <>. Publishing books is not a cheap venture. To keep costs down and prices low, Cave Books depends entirely on a staff of volunteers. At present, Cave Books staff consists of Roger McClure, Publisher; Richard Watson, Editor; Paul Steward, Promotions; Pete Lindsley, Web Design; and David Hanson, Sales. Over the years a host of other people such as Tom Brucker have helped immensely with editing, book design and layout, promotion, distribution, and sales. Karen Lindsley, Pete Lindsley, and Bill Mixon have contributed greatly by doing page and book makeup for the press.

 Like all small presses, we depend on our authors to help with the sales of their books. That means doing book signings, talking to bookstore owners, calling local newspapers, giving talks, slide shows, and promoting their books as much as possible. Speleovenders and the NSS have also helped greatly with our success by selling, advertising, and reviewing our books. Yet, with all this help and success, Cave Books would be nothing without the authors writing the books.

 In 1991 Red Watson made a plea for manuscripts in the NSS News. Since that time Cave Books has published only six new books. So, where are all the authors? It is not for lack of material. There are 22 caves over 20 miles long in the USA. Of the 22, books about their exploration have been written about only 5 of them. Scott Hollow Cave in West Virginia is over 27 miles long. Its discovery and exploration is a caver's dream come true. Fisher Ridge Cave in Kentucky just broke the 100-mile mark and is poised to connect to Mammoth Cave. The Jewel Cave Adventure covers 50 miles of exploration. What about the 77 miles added since then? Wind Cave recently broke the 100-mile mark. Where is that book? How about some of you old-time explorers out there? Don't you think it's about time to start writing it down? Any cave guides out there with a book full of funny stories? There are adventures in caving happening all over North America, but the sad fact is American cavers are not writing books. Sure there are a few, but for the most part the stories of the exploration of our caves is not being documented and will be lost in time.

 There are 94 commercial caves listed on the National Caves Association web page. Books have been written about only a few of these caves. Our latest book is Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave. Is Mammoth the only cave in the country that has scary stories in its history? Our book Guide to the Surface Trails of Mammoth Cave is very popular. Are there no commercial caves with surface trails left to write about? Books like these contribute greatly to educate and interest the general public in karst and caves, but someone has to write them.

 Okay, so you don't think you can write a book? How about translating a few books into English. There are some great adventure books from Optimisticeskaja in the Ukraine, the second longest cave in the world, or Holloch in Switzerland, the fourth longest cave in the world, and the several caves that have been the deepest in the world during the last 25 years.

 There are always a few books that need updating. Anyone want to write a complete new edition of the Atlas: Great Caves of the World? How about a companion volume to A Guide to Speleological Literature of the English Language that covers fiction and poetry about caves? I'd love to see a book of caving cartoons. How about it Mike Hood, Andy Fluke, Jerry Wallace? What are you waiting for? Cave Books has had several proposals to edit a book of cave cartoons, but no one has ever carried through.

Paul Steward, February, 2002

It's never too late to start writing that book. Future generations of cavers will thank you again and again.

 Here are a few titles on my wish list:

The History of American Cave Exploration

This book would be a massive undertaking, but a welcome addition to every caver's bookshelf.

The Caving Adventures of Bill Austin and Jack Lehrberger

Need I say more?

Cave Memorabilia and Collectibles

A big fat coffee table book filled with color pictures of all kinds of neat stuff from commercial caves.

A Guide to the NSS News

This would include the complete index and history of the News and feature every cover printed.

Please send inquires to:

Paul Steward, Editor

Cave Books

277 Clamer Rd.

Trenton, NJ 08628

Rev. 11-25-2012  ...... home page ...... CURRENT CAVEBOOKS Still In Print