CERA News for March 20, 2014

John Marton

At the March CERA Board of Directors meeting, we began with a moment of silence for our departed comrade John Marton, who passed away on February 22nd.  We also passed a motion commending him for his service to CERA.  The last book he was working on (The Illini Trail) will be published as B-147 and dedicated to him.

No one can fill John’s shoes, but the Directors did appoint Irwin Davis to fill out the remainder of John’s term on the Board, which will expire in January 2015.  Mr. Davis is well-known to the railfan community and is a retired CTA motorman.  Welcome aboard!

B-146 News

The Directors passed a series of motions at the meeting relating to our next book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era 1936-1958.  We have tentatively assigned a publication date of June 21, 2014 for the book, exactly 56 years since the last Chicago streetcar ran.

This is the most important Chicago streetcar book published in the last 40 years, and we expect it will be the standard work of its type for this generation, in the same way that Chicago Surface Lines- An Illustrated History by Alan R. Lind has been since the first edition came out in 1974.  No one can top Lind’s book as an all-encompassing history of CSL, and our book is focused on the PCCs.  But improvements in technology over the last 40 years have made a lot of things possible that could not be done in 1974.

The Internet gives us research tools that were not dreamed of in years past.  We recently posted a PCC “Mystery Photo” to our blog.  Within 24 hours, our readers had identified the location.  This sort of Crowdsourcing was impossible until recently.

Lind’s book, great as it is (every railfan should have one), is devoid of color.  Improvements in publishing have brought down the price of color printing, to the point where a full-color book such as ours is now both feasible and affordable.

In the course of laying out the book for production, it became apparent that B-146 will be a much larger book than we had originally anticipated.  We have a wealth of great photos, the great majority of which are in color, and we do not want to shortchange our readers from seeing them.  There is a certain size the photos need to be, in order to be displayed to best advantage, and if we were to reduce the size of the pictures, they would become mere thumbnails.

The only solution is to allow the book to expand.  Therefore, we have decided to make our new book 432 pages.  Our Pictorial is more than just a picture book.  There is a substantial amount of text and background material covering the entire Chicago PCC saga from start to finish.  This has been meticulously researched to the high standard that CERA members have come to expect.

Because the book has been so greatly expanded, it is virtually twice the length of a standard CERA volume.  Along with the page count, the costs of production have also risen.  Therefore, your CERA Directors have done the fiscally responsible thing and have decided to make B-146 a two-year entitlement, covering the years 2012 and 2013.  For those two years, you are getting the equivalent of two regular books.

Therefore, the book will be sent to all CERA Members who belonged in both 2012 and 2013.  We will also send it to anyone who was a Contributing or Sustaining Member in either of those years.  We think this is fair, since all of those individuals paid $90 or more during the two-year period, an amount equivalent to two years’ Active membership.

We have decided to give anyone who only belonged for one of the two years (and was not a Contributing or Sustaining Member) the opportunity to make up for the missing year’s membership by paying an additional $45, an amount equivalent to the Active rate for those years.  In the near future, we will send out a special mailing to all those affected, providing the details on how they can take us up on this offer.  The deadline for accepting is June 1, 2014.

However, for those who decide not to “upgrade” their membership in this way, we will fulfill their one-year membership entitlement by sending them two books from our existing inventory- A Rainbow of Traction and How the Medal Was Won.

As a bonus feature, by special arrangement with Chicago Transport Memories LLC, each copy of B-146 will come with the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD.  Your CERA Directors have negotiated to purchase these DVDs for you at a very favorable price.  As a result, you will get this professionally produced video at no additional cost to you.  It is the perfect companion to the book and a $29.95 value.

With a book of this size, and with the inclusion of a bonus DVD, we feel that Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era 1936-1958 is a fantastic bargain, and would be worth every penny of a $90 list price.  However, your CERA Directors are very much committed to keeping prices low, and have therefore set the list price of B-146 at just $70.  Current CERA Members can save even more money on the book, if they want to purchase additional copies.  The Member price will be $65.

By means of comparison, our most recent full-length book Transit in the Triangle volume 1 has 224 pages, and a list price of $65.  That book has been very well received.  Yet for just $5 more, our new book will offer an additional 208 pages, plus a DVD.

Surely, the impending publication of Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era 1936-1958 is a great cause for celebration.  We thank our members for their continued support.

-Your CERA Directors



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