THE BOOK
Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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HERE

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Suppression of Dissent



I am often asked when the second (improved!) edition of "The Bluestone Enigma" will be published.  Rob has asked me about this several times, and now so has Tony, in his response to my latest post.  So a word about the realities of radical publishing is in order.  Since I published the book myself, I was able to keep costs (and the cover price) down, and on balance I'm quite pleased with sales, having sold maybe 1200 copies thus far.  The print run was 2,000 -- so I have to sell another 800 copies before I think seriously about a new edition.  I have covered my printing costs, of course, but not much more.

I'm not complaining (I knew the score before I published the book) -- but it is INCREDIBLY difficult to sell a book of this type, aimed at a non-specialist readership, which questions and even challenges the establishment.  In spite of sending review copies out in all directions the book has had very few reviews, and my offers to key journals to write articles explaining the "glacial transport hypothesis" have simply been ignored.  In this field dissent is not dealt with by sending in the tanks and aircraft, but simply by pretending it does not exist!  After a long struggle, I managed to get the book into the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, but I have not had a repeat order from EH for some months now -- and I suspect the book might have been taken off the shelves.  I hope I'm wrong -- but I'm trying to find out.  There are of course many other EH and museum outlets (and even college and university bookshops) where the book SHOULD be on sale -- but again it may be that the august organizations which promote and protect our cultural heritage, and which teach the next generation of archaeologists,  themselves feel threatened when their belief systems are subjected to careful scrutiny.

Is there a cunning plan, involving the forces of darkness, to suppress my book?  I doubt it -- but I think it's fair to assume that certain organizations have no particular desire to see my ideas being examined by the masses and turned into common currency........

So I continue to have fun, asking questions where appropriate, examining evidence from fields that might have a bearing on Stonehenge and the bluestones, and throwing new ideas into the public domain.  Nobody can sack me, or withdraw my research funding; and I don't need to protect my standing amongst my peers.  So I feel quite privileged to be an entirely free agent!

12 comments:

Dylan Marvelly said...

I bought and read your book last summer on a visit back 'home' to Pembrokeshire and I want to congratulate you on it. I'm a reasonably informed reader (geology was my degree subject)and personally I think you've hit the nail on the head, I can't see how these stones could be anything other than glacial erratics. I would also hazard a guess that stone age people were far more concerned with day to day living rather than trying to haul huge lumps of rock about the place.

It's tough telling people things they don't want to hear, maybe one day the archaeologists of the future will eventually tire of explaining pretty much everything in terms of ritual significance, but at the moment religious and ritual mystery seems to be what sells and keeps many of them in jobs, but at least your book is now out there and part of the conversation whether they like it or not.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Dylan -- yes, one would have thought that given what we know about the ancient glaciations of Western Britain, the glacial hypothesis is far and away the "easiest" from an intellectual standpoint.

As you say, with the media gasping for wacky stories, and the archaeology establishment only too ready to oblige, we will probably carry on having to cope with a succession of fairy tales.

Ah well -- none of it really MATTERS in the end!!

TONY HINCHLIFFE said...

You might possibly find it useful to contact Dennis Price, the qualified archaeologist who has worked for Wessex Archaeology and who runs the Eternal Idol (Stonehenge) website. He is an amazingly generously-spirited person, and he is also an author, as you may know, with some success in obtaining promotion for his book, on a rather left - of - centre topic. The book is, however, very well researched and argued, and has a section of his blog/website devoted to it.

I did notice you had a review in Mike Pitts' British Archaeology some time ago. Mike lives in Marlborough and strikes me as a reflective thinker: his book "Hengeworld" is one of the best archaeology books I have ever read. It is written like a forensic analysis of the work of the various antiquarians & archaeologists over the last centuries, and includes discoveries he has made himself during this forensic process. I think he might well be quite open-minded on the bluestone "hot potato"!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I'm in touch with Dennis -- I have followed his Eternal Idol site for quite a while!

I have also had a few exchanges of messages with MP -- as you say, it's good to see that he is very open to debate.

The truth will eventually triumph!

Anonymous said...

I think that you were reviewed at length and with some whimsy in Wiltshire Studies recently. But like you I think that your not having more reviews was not an accident.
I suspect that EH not re-ordering is commercial rather than conspiritorial.
I think your book sales are impressive! No one makes money publishing non-fiction (or even non-blood-soaked fiction).
((Anyway I had a reviewer who said of one of my books 'it is the most dangerous book in the world'-my publishers laughed and said luke- warm reviews were the kiss of death!!.))
Sell the 800 quickly and write the revised edition.
The tide is at the flood.
GCU In two minds.

TONY HINCHLIFFE said...

I have seen the lengthy "Bluestone Enigma" review by Geologist Rob Ixer prominently positioned in the Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine, "Wiltshire Studies" 2011 recently. I feel sure that, as a result, you may well be able to sell quite a few of your unsold 800 copies via this outlet. W.A.N.H.S. is, of course, based at Devizes Museum. It has an extensive & good display of books for its many Museum Visitors, who include quite a few Society Members like myself. I can easily ask Diann Barnett, the Bookshop Manager, whether she would like a stock of 'Bluestone Enigma' direct from yourself. (Members pay about 10% less for their book purchases.)

BRIAN JOHN said...

I'd appreciate that, Tony! I wrote to the Museum when the book came out, asking if they would like to stock it, but I never had a reply......... but perhaps Rob's review will stimulate some interest.

Barrie Foster said...

We keep on trying! The Bluestone Enigma still features on the Prehistory page of the History Unlimited Bookshop and ny stats show that Amazon have moved a few copies via the HU site (my Amazon review is still in place, but you may have to scroll down to find it). And my 'Thoughts on Marketing Heritage & Culture' is a permanent fixture on www.barriefoster.co.uk - a number of clients have taken the broader message on board. Keep on keeping on!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Barrie. Appreciate that. Yes, a few copies get shifted via Amazon -- I just wish they would hold a small stock (or even a large one!) rather than ordering single copies at 60% discount, and then expecting me to pay the postage and wait 3 months for payment! Vultures, but we have to deal with them....

TONY HINCHLIFFE said...

Brian, I've been in contact with Bookshop Manager Diann & she is fine about stocking some copies of "Enigma" at Wiltshire Heritage Museum. Can I suggest you email her at:- d.barnett@wiltshireheritage

The address is:-

Wiltshire Heritage Museum
41, Long Street,
DEVIZES
SN10 INS www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk

BRIAN JOHN said...

Very kind of you, Tony. I shall indeed follow that up....

TONY said...

Good. By the way, Diann says she will be back in the Museum on Tuesday, but will probably read her emails before then.