Interview with Monkees Archives Vol 1-3 Publisher, Gary Zenker
by M.A. Cassata
If you are in search of a new book on Monkees to add to your collection, look no further! Author, Gary Zenker just might have what you need—Monkees Archives Vol 1-3. Yes, three books released simultaneously. Hard to believe, but absolutely true!
If you haven’t seen Monkees Archives Vol 1-3, then you are in for a treat. Each volume contains articles, interviews, advertising, photos and other materials related to the band during their original run in the 1960s and later, various regroupings.
You will appreciate the variety of materials presented as you travel backwards to the time when our favorite guys were one of the most popular music artists and TV stars in the U.S. Monkees Archives also includes plenty of fan and teen magazine interviews. Remember, ‘Which Monkee is Your Favorite,” or “Why Davy Loves You?”
Gary Zenker is a lover of pop and rock music and an award winning marketing professional with over 30 years of strategic marketing and tactical implementations. He also runs two writers groups which help authors achieve their goals of becoming better writers and publishing their work. His other popular archives series includes books on The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean and The Beatles.
See more of Gary’s books on Amazon.
As many longtime fans will agree, Monkees Archives books have been earning rave reviews. One Amazon review stated: “As a first generation Monkees fan, I enjoy reading these old articles and looking at old photos from `60s magazines. I am grateful that this editor took the time to locate and put these together into a series of three anthologies.”
Another reads: “Fantastic. Brought back memories of the original glory days of The Monkees and my youth.” Let us know what you think, here at Monkees.net.
You published three books on the Monkees released simultaneously. Wow…three!
Yes. After doing some books on other bands, I realized that the optimum way to do this is simultaneously release two or more books for the same band. It’s much easier to then trying to get people to know about the second and third book months later. And some people will buy all the volumes at once, which is great. That’s because the books have a very limited audience. It’s more of a fan production than a moneymaker.
We bought all three volumes at once. There was no way we could just buy one at a time.
From a production standpoint, it allows me to go gather tons of articles and artifacts at the same time, instead of restricting myself to a specific number of items. That’s very time productive.
Why did you choose The Monkees?
I had access to a lot of material in reasonable quality and they are fun personalities. Fans seem to be nice people. There is still a lot of interest, all these years later. I mean, for record day they released the box set of the original LP’s on colored vinyl. How cool is that?
What would you like Monkees fans take away from the books?
I guess an understanding of the fact that the band was designed as a commercial entity. They made themselves available for the purpose of promotion. I have no idea how much of it was real and how much was fabricated but other than the Beatles, this kind of attention (entire magazines dedicated to them on a monthly basis) was rare.
What is the process of putting together books like these? Must have been challenging at times.
First, a massive search on articles, both online and from original magazines. I’m looking for things where I can either get permission or believe that the copyrights are either abandoned or so muddled that no one will threaten to sue me for using the piece. That’s why the focus is on older material. Begging to borrow originals, and finding online scans is part of the process.
First I scan those I need to, then do a massive cleanup. Removing color from the pages for better black and white printing (yellowed paper can print as a darkish grey…unattractive and hard to read over). It also involves adjusting the contrast and brightness of the scanned photography. It’s time consuming work to make things print well. Many of the originals were printed on cheap newsprint and then people scanned the pieces badly…there’s only so much cleanup one can do. I do the best that I can.
Why aren’t the books organized by date or original magazine appearance?
I don’t always know the source of the pieces. If I scan the original, there’s a chance it is in the original magazine. But it could also be pages ripped out or clipped. And if the source is Internet scans, there is a good chance it is not documented correctly if at all.
I should note that I am not a Monkees expert. I don’t have the ability by reading the articles to know the approximate time period. I am more of a casual fan than a fanatic. But I do love the aura around the band and the positivity of the fans. There was a lot of focus on the Monkees and the boys’ personalities. That makes these projects fun.
What is your background in publishing?
I began collecting Beach Boys and Jan & Dean related things when I was 15 and never stopped, so I understand the collector mind and how books like these can offer fans something that would be too expensive to amass otherwise.
What non-archived themed books have you produced?
Professionally, I am marketing professional who does a lot of writing of business related materials. The other books on my imprint include collaboration with my then six-year-old son Seth, a book on leadership and running Meet up groups, and an anthology of short stories for one of the two writers groups I run.
You’ve done books on other artists/bands as well.
I’ve published seven volumes on The Beach Boys, three on Jan & Dean, a volume on the Beatles and eight volumes reprinting the entire run of KRLA Radio Beat 1964-1968. I created White Lightning Publishing to produce these types of niche projects.
Why did you choose these particular artists?
The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean books started as a way of preserving my own massive collection of materials. They were published at different times because of the long amount of prep work time it takes. To make a publishing effort like this worthwhile, you have to find materials where the copyrights are abandoned or expired and there is enough interesting material available.
Much of the challenge is in finding enough high quality material, and by high quality I mean visually high quality. There are lots of low-res scans on the Internet. They don’t reproduce well. Buying up all original source material is expensive and guarantees a huge loss on projects like these. So I look for material that I can get inexpensively and invest the time to clean up the scans or scan them myself at super high resolution, then adjust the brightness and contrast to make reading easy. It’s actually a lot of work.
You also want the bands to have an active collecting base. Doing all the work to sell 20 copies just doesn’t make sense.
Any sixties musicians or artists you would like to cover next? Perhaps David Cassidy or The Osmonds?
I don’t think so. Their fame didn’t survive the way the Monkees did and I just don’t think there would be a demand for books that would support the effort in making them. Oddly enough, I am considering Frank Zappa, the Rolling Stones, Brit Invasion and Sonny and Cher. And another Beatles volume of ads done to promote their recordings. That’s because I already have a base of material prepared from the KRLA publication and there is a lot if easily sourced material.
Where can readers buy your books?
On Amazon or they can contact me directly. Garyz60625@aol.com. I can do some pricing specials when people want all three of the Monkees books that Amazon can’t match.
Thank you Mary Anne and thanks Monkees.net!