The Book: Dean LaTourrette and Kristine Enea, TIME OFF! THE UNEMPLOYED GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO. Leisure Team Productions trade paperback, 2004, fine condition. Inscribed by the authors to the owner.
First read: 2002
Owned since: 2004
I edited this book while the authors were writing it, over a period of approximately a year. It's a terrific guide for getting the most out of San Francisco without spending a lot of money, and offers tips for planning a sabbatical similar to Six Months Off.
This book is an example of how self-publishing can work, in specific circumstances. I am not a fan of self-published fiction; with rare exception, it is lazy, greedy and ego-driven, and self-published novelists are a misery to themselves and others. (If you leave a comment defending self-published novels, chances are good that I'll be rude to you. Don't start with me.)
Self-publishing can work for non-fiction, specialty publications, when 1) the authors are committed to turning out a high-quality product and 2) the authors know who their target audience is and how to reach them.
Many people found themselves unemployed in San Francisco after the dot-com bust. Some of those people had money on their hands, but most didn't. They didn't want to leave San Francisco, but it was going to be a while before the jobs came back -- and in the meantime, they had to admit, their lives had probably gotten a little out of balance.
This book was a perfect guide for that transition period. San Franciscans love their city with a passion that borders on obsession. It's a small town, and everyone knows each other. The blurbs for this book reflect that: Mayor Willie Brown, Ben Marcus, the man (Hank "Mr. SF" Donat) who writes the "Heart of the City" column.
In addition to tips on shopping, eating and working out on the cheap, the book also includes practical financial advice about how to manage periods of unemployment -- and suggestions on options when things get really bad. Funky illustrations, charts and other graphics help the reader find topics easily, and the book looks better than most trade paperbacks published by mainstream presses.
The authors had talked about writing similar books for other cities, and I hope they do; unfortunately, guides for unemployment are more timely than ever now.