, Freddy is called the 'Official Coin-op Historian' (capital letters). I think he's just demonstrating showman-smarts by adopting the title. After all, nobody else was using it.
As one of the longest-lived industry insiders there's no doubt he has a wealth of knowledge on the subject and some unique paperwork. He has kindly put the first chapter of All My Life…A Showman The Fairground Years
No document of this kind can be error free, but it would certainly benefit from grammar proof reading and some of the more obvious errors ironing out. He has gone down the self publishing route so perhaps, if he's printing to order, corrections can be made in response to feedback. This is all beside the point really, because the book is clearly more reminiscence than history and that's its strength. It is the first (and will probably remain the only) account of the early slot machine industry from an insider's perspective.
I've yet to find any means of purchasing it though. Gameswat is the only collector I know who has a copy. I tried contacting Freddy recently through the coin op collector forum because I noticed he posts there, but didn't get a reply. In my view (and I'm sure most keen collectors would agree) a new book on our favourite topic, particularly from a British perspective, is a 'must have'. I held off buying Tom Gustwiller's self-published Reel Amusement, put off by price and cost of shipping, but came to regret it a year later when it was no longer available. I got lucky and found a cheap copy on ebay.
I'm very flattered by JP's nominating me to write the definitive British encyclopaedia of slot, but even if I thought I was up to the job, I'd regard it as a poisoned chalice... or act of folly. The work involved is immense and the audience minute - rather like this website. Only the website's content comes from the collaborative effort of many knowledgeable contributors. Certainly, by pooling knowledge and correcting it when new information comes to light, a website is a great tool for researching social history.
Alexander Smith is using his blog, They Create World's
to pre-publish a history of the video game industry so that it can be critiqued and fact-checked by all who read it prior to printing. The first of the proposed three volumes (planned for completion by the end of the year) will be of most interest to us, as it will cover the pre-history of the industry to 1982. Which reminds me - I must tell him that, as far as we know
, credit for 'the first coin-operated driving game' goes to Britain, not America, and certainly not to International Mutoscope's Drive Mobile of 1941.
I wonder if pre-publishing like this reduces or increases the number of hard copy purchases. Regardless, demand for such books is limited. The first print run of Paul Braithwaite's Arcades and Slot Machines has yet to sell out.
I'm mindful of Arrgee's points about the fragility of online media. Websites with any level of complexity are like castles on sand, the foundations constantly crumbling as the supporting code and hardware evolves. The possibility of catastrophe, accidental or malicious, is ever present. This site consists of server-side software libraries, various software programs such as the one used to run this forum, the files containing the pictures etc. and four databases. Currently it weighs in at almost 6GB. I upgraded the hosting package recently because there was insufficient space for the backups. As there are 97 backups (one created every hour) plus copies of the databases (on several machines), that's quite a bit of disk space. If, for whatever reason, the host disappeared, none of this would help though. With that in mind, I have three full site and 100+ database backups automatically saved elsewhere. Once in a while, when things look shaky, I download everything to my computer - not often though, because it's time consuming. And if that makes it sound armour plated against disaster, believe me, it's not.
Again as Arrgee points out, the long term future of the site is even less certain. I'm hopeful that the bit that we care about - the posts and pictures may at sometime be transferred to whatever documentation format lies ahead, but I don't have a plan...