AN UNASSUMING COUNTY: The Making of the Bedfordshire Countryside ~ Second Edition
Order out of chaos!
This book was published by Eventispress in 2014, with much of the research and writing completed in the previous two years. Therefore, the book is now almost a decade old and beginning to show its age. It is surprising how quickly any non-fiction publication can become out of date. In fact, the gestation period for this first publication was more like a lifetime of accumulating reports, and maps, and newspaper cuttings with periodic half-hearted attempts to bring order to the chaos. Writing a book was a novel idea, with the thought that at least the pile of documents would be shuffled into, at most, a dozen chapters. A somewhat radical classification, during which a lot of stuff could be discarded.
How the world around us has changed?
A decade later the world has changed. That sounds superficially trite: how could global events have any impact on what we see over the hedge in Bedfordshire? However, a moment’s reflection will surely bring to mind the speed and range of the changes and the accelerating trends which are already altering how the public perceive the countryside and how we use a finite area of land. The evidence for climate change is no longer deniable and the rush to plant trees has captured the political class and largely has public backing. During the pandemic there was a renewal of interest in the ’great outdoors’, backed by solid evidence of the benefits of green space on mental health. There is a rising demand for greater access beyond the eight percent of land presently accessible to the public from the footpath network.
… And we left the European Union. This has brought to reality the new funding arrangements required for agriculture, which will challenge the previous perceptions that farms were all about food production. Public Funds for Public Goods, is now a firm policy stance, with payments linked to environmental improvements. More hedges better maintained, tree planting in field corners, and wildflower patches are all to be rewarded. Add to this the trends away from meat to plant-based diets, with a corresponding reduction in livestock farming. The increased business opportunities in the countryside for leisure provision, such as cycle tracks and fishing lakes. Yes, in Bedfordshire the landscape will and is changing.
The Challenge of How to Revise the Text.
So, the challenge in updating a decade old text is how to reflect all this without overturning the structure of the original book entirely. Can we keep the original Chapters? New photographs perhaps? Do we need a new cover? And yes, there is the opportunity to correct the odd mistake which, despite a tight editing process, crept into the first edition.
Will this sell more books? Unlikely, I think. However, we are committed, and three months into the process we have reached the penultimate Chapter. It is unlikely this new edition will be such a thrill to me as the first publication, but there will be great satisfaction in getting it right. And that matters!
Eventispress says: ‘An Unassuming County ‘ was a success Brian, for yourself and us. It is one of those books which appeals to a local audience and has been seen for sale in many bookshops in the home counties, but your greatest achievement has been building such a wide network of places to give author talks ~ and yes, this has been an excellent channel to sell more books. Well done!