New Book: "Caves of Chattanooga"

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Photo of Mystery Falls on page 47.

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jul 13, 2007 12:44 pm

By the way, that wonderful photograph on page 47 was taken by Bob Biddix.

When the first printing sells out, the proper credit will be added for Figure 2.13

If anyone else finds an error, or an omission in the book, just let me or Tom Rea know and we will fix it.

There are several OLD photos from the 1950's, where we don't know the name of the caver. Those would be great to find out.

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Postby Wayne Harrison » Sep 9, 2007 6:12 pm

If you are interested in buying the book, you can get a discounted copy and support the NSS at the same time, by buying it through the NSS Bookstore:

http://nssbookstore.org/index.php?mode= ... -1115-2075
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Chattanooga Bookstores

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Sep 9, 2007 6:51 pm

So far, the book "Caves of Chattanooga" is not available in ANY Chattanooga area bookstores.

NSS member Brian Conners, who lives in Chattanooga, has volunteered to go around to the area bookstores and show them a copy of the book and see if they are interested in stocking it. Hopefully, he will have some luck and we can start marketing this book to people outside the NSS.

I did the same thing with the book "Dunbar Cave" in the Nashville and Clarksville areas back in 2005, and now several stores stock that, and other NSS books.

Chattanooga is too far away for me to do that with the "Caves of Chattanooga" book, so it is wonderful to have a volunteer like Brian step up and help the NSS. And, all proceeds go directly to the NSS.

If you live anywhere within 75 miles of Chattanooga, you ought to call your local bookstores and ask them to stock it. Politely, of course.

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Why We Need NSS Publications In Bookstores

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Sep 13, 2007 8:32 am

I got started on this topic with an email to Bill Mixon yesterday, and I thought it was so important, that it should be raised here.

If we can get NSS publications stocked in regular bookstores, then persons who are already interested in caves, but know little, if anything, about the NSS, will possibly be motivated to contact us and join the NSS.

Every one of my books has information in the back on how to contact the NSS. Along with a safety and conservation message. Frankly, we NEED new members.

I was at both the Huntsville (2005) and Marengo (2007) Conventions and it seemed like almost everybody there was over 50. Not a good trend, if you want the NSS to survive and continue to exist.

It seems to me, that having our publications in both public libraries and bookstore has the potential to attract new members to our organization.

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Surprise, surprise !!!

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Nov 15, 2007 1:04 pm

I thought for sure that all the commercial caves in the book "Caves of Chattanooga" would want to stock the book in their Gift Shops. But, surprise, surprise, I was wrong.

Ruby Falls Cave, which is on the Front Cover, does not stock the book in their enormous Gift Shop. They do, however, have some inspirational, religiously-oriented books for sale.

Raccoon Mountain Caverns, which is on the Back Cover and which is run by an NSS member, does not stock the book, either.

Sequoyah Caverns does not stock the book. So three out of three commercial caves do not stock the book. Wierd.

Russell Cave National Monument, however, does have the book in their relatively small Gift Shop. Thanks, Russell Cave !!!

The other five (5) caves in the book (Lookout Mountain Cave, Mystery Falls, Mystic Caverns, Nickajack Cave, and Wonder Cave) are not open as commercial caves anymore, so they do not have Gift Shops.

The lack of interest in this book by the commercial cave owners is just a shock to me. I really thought they would all stock it in their Gift Shops. Clearly, the National Park Service is more interested in science and history than the regular commercial cave operator.

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Last edited by Larry E. Matthews on Nov 15, 2007 1:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby JoeyS » Nov 15, 2007 2:38 pm

Did you approach any of the owners and ask why not? Seems like they'd be proud to stock any book that gave historic info about their cave..
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Postby BrianC » Nov 15, 2007 3:43 pm

Raccoon Mtn and Ruby Falls both know about the book!
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Why Don't They Sell Books ???

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Nov 15, 2007 3:45 pm

Hu Longmire, who worked with me closely at Ruby Falls Cave (and was a big help), told me the Gift Shop Manager doesn't like books. Yet he/she has a rack full of religious books for sale. They do sell a small, commercial-looking "history" of Ruby Falls at an inflated price, next to the post cards. Maybe they don't want any competition for "their" book.

For a while, I was told at Raccoon Mountain Caverns that they were going to order the book, but they never did. I never got a real reason why they have not ordered it.

At Sequoyah Caverns, the owner again told me 2 weeks ago how much he loves the book, but he has never bothered to order any. He also initially told me that they planned to sell the book. We sent him MORE order forms, just in case.

All these caves got free, autographed copies from me, ordering insturctions, and, in most cases, another free copy and more ordering instructions from the NSS Office. They have all been approached as many times as possible, without risking totally turning them off.

Cumberland Caverns has always sold the "Cumberland Caverns" book, so I just assumed these caves would sell a book about their cave, too. You would think they would order 10 or 20 and see if they sell. If they didn't sell, then you would understand if they didn't re-order, but not to try to sell the book at all is just a mystery, to me.

Russell Cave National Monument did order the book, of course. Thank you Russell Cave !!!

I think our best bet, to make money for the NSS, is to try to get the book in as many Chattanooga area bookstores, as possible.

When I look at the "junk" they sell in the Gift Shops at Raccoon Mountain Caverns, Ruby Falls Cave, and Sequoyah Caverns, my guess is that our "Caves of Chattanooga" book does not have the HUGE mark-up that they expect on the other items they sell.

When I was a Guide at Cumberland Caverns, I remember being shocked at families that would come in and buy a lot of "junk", then not take the tour because the "tickets were too expense".

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Why Don't They Sell Books ???

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Nov 15, 2007 3:45 pm

Hu Longmire, who worked with me closely at Ruby Falls Cave (and was a big help), told me the Gift Shop Manager doesn't like books. Yet he/she has a rack full of religious books for sale. They do sell a small, commercial-looking "history" of Ruby Falls at an inflated price, next to the post cards. Maybe they don't want any competition for "their" book.

For a while, I was told at Raccoon Mountain Caverns that they were going to order the book, but they never did. I never got a real reason why they have not ordered it.

At Sequoyah Caverns, the owner again told me 2 weeks ago how much he loves the book, but he has never bothered to order any. He also initially told me that they planned to sell the book. We sent him MORE order forms, just in case.

All these caves got free, autographed copies from me, ordering insturctions, and, in most cases, another free copy and more ordering instructions from the NSS Office. They have all been approached as many times as possible, without risking totally turning them off.

Cumberland Caverns has always sold the "Cumberland Caverns" book, so I just assumed these caves would sell a book about their cave, too. You would think they would order 10 or 20 and see if they sell. If they didn't sell, then you would understand if they didn't re-order, but not to try to sell the book at all is just a mystery, to me.

Russell Cave National Monument did order the book, of course. Thank you Russell Cave !!!

I think our best bet, to make money for the NSS, is to try to get the book in as many Chattanooga area bookstores, as possible.

When I look at the "junk" they sell in the Gift Shops at Raccoon Mountain Caverns, Ruby Falls Cave, and Sequoyah Caverns, my guess is that our "Caves of Chattanooga" book does not have the HUGE mark-up that they expect on the other items they sell.

When I was a Guide at Cumberland Caverns, I remember being shocked at families that would come in and buy a lot of "junk", then not take the tour because the "tickets were too expense".

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Postby BrianC » Nov 15, 2007 3:53 pm

:hairpull:
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Postby Phil Winkler » Nov 15, 2007 4:31 pm

Larry, I think you have hit the nail on the head. The majority of commercial cave owners are in the business to make money. Period.

Having a low markup book is not worth the shelf space it takes away from more profitable items, junk or otherwise. And, you have to consider the motivation of many of the visitors/customers to the cave. Academic interest in Ruby Falls? Not likely. A place to spend some time with the kids? Likely.

I think non-fiction books are a luxury for many people nowadays. After all, there is always the web where it's free! :rolleyes:

The NSS has a committee for NSS publishing of books that tries to make an accurate determination of how may to print based on what type of book it is and also based on past sales of that type. We have over 12 years of sales data nowadays to help, too. Most non-fiction books sell best within a year or two of their release as I recall. Then sales trickle down to very slow.

Book publishing is a tough business and you have certainly done a lot of it yourself. Except for NPS cave gift shops I don't recall seeing non-fiction books at other commercial cave gift shops and I've looked, too.
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Items In The Gift Shops

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Nov 15, 2007 8:22 pm

I've probably been in 8 commercial caves in the last year, or so, and I see almost the exact same items for sale in all the Gift Shops. Clearly, they know what is selling and, I'm sure, what makes the most money for them.

It is interesting how many commercial caves have "Gem Mines". I know they make a killing off that !!!

And, as every cave event organizer knows, T-shirts are also a big money-maker.

Yep, I think you are right. Books don't have enough mark up and they probably wouldn't sell enough volume to interest the average commercial cave owner.

Oh well, it was an interesting experiment. I'm still doing the "Caves of Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains" in the exact same format. With 10 million visitors a year to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it's bound to sell a few hundred copies a year. (Publication scheduled for Summer, 2008, I hope). And, it will have lots of history for real cavers.

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Re: New Book: "Caves of Chattanooga"

Postby rebelfirefighter » Jun 11, 2013 3:49 am

I know this is an old thread but thought this was worth mentioning. I heard that after this summer Sequoyah Caverns will be closing. My understanding is the owner is retiring. If you wanna see this cave one more time you might better head on over before fall. That will bring the number of open commercial caves in the book down to two now.

I went and did the tour at Sequoyah during a Civil War reenactment a few years ago. The tour guide was actually a caver. If I remember right she said she was from Huntsville Grotto. It was a really nice tour. Its always nice when you get a guide thats a caver instead of a teenager working off a script like at many commercial caves.
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