My First e-Book – London’s May Queens

Just published on Blurb is my first e-book, London’s May Queens, also available considerably more expensively as a paperback.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

I’ve written quite a few times here and elsewhere about my photographs of London May Queens. I’d lived in London for most of my life and knew virtually nothing about them until I was writing a presentation about Tony Ray-Jones to deliver in Poland in 2005 and my imagination was stirred by a picture of a large group of May Queens under a very large maypole which was captioned as being at Faversham in Kent.

Rather idly I Googled about May Queens, and found very little, but enough to make me fairly sure that the event he had photographed was the ‘Merrie England and London May Queen Festival’ not at Faversham but at Hayes in south-east London (still often known as Hayes, Kent although now in the London Borough of Bromley to distinguish it from Hayes, Middlesex – now in LB Hillingdon.) Rather to my surprise I came across an article in a south London newspaper web site which mentioned the festival and gave the date for 2005, and I decided to go along and photograph it.

You can see the results on ‘My London Diary’ for May 2005 – some way down the page, where I also give a very brief history of the event. Photographing young girls might present some challenges, and I started by going to the event organisers and talking with them. Once they found I was not from the local press they were a lot happier with me being there – they were worried that some of the girls taking part might be embarrassed if their pictures were printed in the local papers.

It was the start of a lengthy project, made longer by most of the events taking place over a few weeks of the year, and weeks when I’m usually fairly tied up with other events, but three years later I had enough work to be promised a show at one of London’s better venues – only for it to be cancelled at the final stage when suddenly money became short.

All of the work in the e-book/book London’s May Queens has actually appeared on My London Diary where there are probably around a thousand of the 12,000 or so pictures I took of May Queen events. But the pictures on the web are always a rush job, and every one of the 72 images for the book has been carefully reprocessed from the RAW file and they are really like exhibition prints compared to the proofs on the web.

I’ve also written a rather longer essay on May and May Queens and the Merrie England and London May Queen in particular, although I still have hopes of one day producing a larger and more scholarly work by a suitably qualified friend with a more thoroughly researched text making much more use of the original sources than my own effort. Though perhaps my more straightforward account is more suitable for a wider audience.

I set out from when I started producing this book around 4 months ago with the idea that it would be available both in print and electronic format. Blurb offers to convert your normal book project into an e-book, and it does seem to look very similar. There is one major limitation in that only a very restricted range of fonts can be used in the e-books, so I have to choose a different font to my previous works.

I had another small problem in that Blurb’s e-books are in an  iPad/iPhone format for use on Apple® iBooks®, and I don’t have that kind of equipment. So I’ve only viewed the e-book using the Firefox EPUBReader plugin, where it seems to work fine except for the front and back cover where there are some slightly odd differences from the book, with the images being shown a little out of correct proportion. I hope this is just a glitch in the plugin rather than in the actual file.

The big advantage of the e-book, apart from being rather handy for those who have an iPad or iPhone is of course price. The e-book download costs only £2.49 rather than the £26.94 for the print version. The difference is even greater when you’ve added Blurb’s rather excessive delivery cost of around a fiver for the book, and of course you get it by download in a minute or two rather than the 10 days or so for printing and postal delivery.  There is a short preview – 19 of the 80 pages – of the book available on Blurb.

Here’s the back cover:

© 2012, Peter Marshall

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


One Response to “My First e-Book – London’s May Queens”

  1. […] I retold in my own book and PDF on the festival. [You can read a little more about this book on >Re:PHOTO which also has has an e-pub link.) Copies of this and my other Blurb books are usually available to […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.