A new edition of “The man who invented youth hostels”

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Richard Schirrmann, centre, in 1934 with Jack Catchpool, secretary of the England and Wales youth hostels association on his right. Two of my favourite people from youth hostels history together. I’m in the midst of work for a biography of Catchpool. Photo courtesy YHA (England and Wales) from the YHA Archive at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham.

At the end of my research, when I came to write Open to All – how youth hostels changed the world, the story of Richard Schirrmann would not fit. I loved the story of the man who invented youth hostels but early readers commented that the story was too much in what was a history of youth hostels in England and Wales and that and that it would work better on its own. So I took what I had written and turned it into its own small book.

With no publisher for either book I considered publishing the book independently of any publishing house. It seemed like a big step and a short book on Richard Schirrmann made an ideal experiment. I could test the systems and see how ‘indie’ publishing might work for me, without risking all the work of a bigger book. I took the story of Richard Schirrmann and turned it into a small book.

The experiment worked but the book had some weaknesses and some glaring faults when it was done. That’s how experiments go. The errors and mistakes were largely in the design and layout. My publishing software had no facility for headers. Placing images distorted the text.

After two years, wanting to make the book more widely available I’ve taken the chance to correct those errors and make available a second edition. I’ve taken the chance to tidy some minor stylistic, typographic and grammatical errors too. Print-on-demand makes it possible to produce a second edition with little cost.

For owners of the first edition, do not worry. The text of your edition is largely the same as the text of this edition and I would not recommend spending your hard earned money on this edition. But if you didn’t have the previous edition, this is the one for you.

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