33 Books Co. Blog
A Vending Machine for Those with Great Taste November 14 2016
When I was looking to move 33 Books Co. out of my garage this spring, I looked at a lot of prospective spaces. I knew I wanted something larger than my garage, with ground-floor access, and ... somewhere that I could sell my books directly to consumers: brick-and-mortar. A store. The final frontier.
I had big ideas. Classes! New products! Booze! A cash register!
And then I remembered an important detail: I don't particularly want to work retail! Set hours, schedules, the public ... no offense, but I like peace and quiet, time to design and print and make, where I can play loud music and listen to podcasts while I work.
Thankfully, I had this realization before signing that lease, and am now located inside a working cidery (Cider Riot!) where I am happily shipping books and maps and coins all over the world, alone and happy.
But, as fate would have it, my friends at said cidery opened a public taproom this summer, which re-opened the possibility of selling directly to you, gentle reader.
Rather than open a "book window" or standing awkwardly in the corner with a cash box and a box of books, I decided to use the power of techmology, in the form of a circa-1998 vending machine (a restored AP-111, if you're curious).
I am pleased to introduce to you the 33 Books Co. Automated Bookshop and Larder.
It's stocked with 20 books of my own design, Drinking Coins on demand, and a small selection of my favorite goods from Olympia Provisions, Woodblock Chocolate, Daneson, Smith Tea and Portland Bee Balm should you require logbooks or sustenance while enjoying some of Portland's finest English-style dry cider.
It's open - like the taproom - Wednesday through Sunday. For current hours, check out the Cider Riot! web site.
Come see it (don't forget the folding money*):
33 Books Co. Automated Bookshop and Larder
(inside Cider Riot!)
807 NE Couch St.
Portland, OR 97232
* The machine takes $1 and $5 bills, plus coins.
"Are There Really 33 Kinds of Oyster?" May 28 2015
When Julie Qiu of the In a Half Shell oyster blog approached me about collaborating on an oyster journal, I wasn't sure. I like oysters quite a bit personally, but are there really enough out there for a whole book? "Definitely," was her answer, and after spending time working with her on this new member of the "33" family, and sampling several dozen oysters, I'm delighted to say I agree with her!
America is home to five distinct species of oysters, and every bay or inlet where they are grown provides another layer of differentiation. Oyster aficionados call this sense of place "merroir," after the French word "terroir," and we can borrow one more wine word while we're at it: appellation, or "place name." There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of US oyster appellations, and 33 Oysters is a way to track your journey as you sample them.
Terroir is a term most commonly applied to wine grapes, and it refers to the unique properties of a wine's home that can show in a wine's flavor and aroma. Soil quality, rainfall, altitude, sunlight and many other geography-related factors can decide why a Chardonnay grown in Champagne tastes this way, and this California version - same grape, remember - tastes completely different.
In the same way, merroir can help explain the differences in flavor between different oysters. A C. gigas (aka "Pacific oyster") grown in Netarts Bay, Oregon tastes completely different from the C. gigas grown farther north in Washington.
Which is all a very long way of saying, "There are a LOT of oysters out there."
Recommended reading: A Geography of Oysters, by Rowan Jacobsen
Behind the United States of Beer Map October 07 2013
When I first designed 33 Bottles of Beer, my goal was to create something small and portable that made taking notes on beers I tried fast and easy.
Four years later, I think I've succeeded, with nearly 100,000 copies printed, a fact I still find incredibly hard to believe. I agonized on printing that initial run, wondering if I'd be giving them away for gifts for decades to come, or using them to steady tipsy tables.
I've filled a good number of the books myself, most while attempting my "beer a day" project back in 2010. And while writing things down has helped me a great deal in remembering details about the beers I've enjoyed (or not), it's always felt a little solipsistic.
So I created this map.
With it, you can try a beer from each state in the US, logging it as you would with the standard 33 Beers book. There's a flavor wheel, and space for recording the beer's name, brewer, date you tried it, and your own rating, from 1 to 5 stars. Here's a great beer from Minnesota, Surly Brewing's Overrated! West Coast IPA.
The poster lets you take your reviews out of your pocket 33 Beers book, and put them on display for all to see. It makes a great visual for your cube, office, home bar, man cave, lady lair, dorm room ... I can't wait to see where they end up.
Post your poster photos on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #unitedstatesofbeer and let's see who fills one out first, starting ... NOW.
Featured Partner: A Kitchen Box August 22 2013
One of the best things about my day is finding out all the cool ways "33" books are used. The stories of personal enlightenment, great travel experiences, discoveries make this a really fulfilling job.
I also get to work with a lot of really interesting partner businesses, one of which is called "A Kitchen Box." You may already be familiar with the box model, but if not, there are a growing number of interesting mail subscription services that provide you a package full of unique and engaging goods on a monthly or quarterly basis (check out the "Must Have Boxes" blog for a nice list/review). Usually there is some theme - in this case, culinary items - but the contents are a surprise until you actually receive the box. It's kind of like a mini-Christmas every month. Here's what it looked like when I opened mine a few weeks ago.
Score! Freddy Guys Hazelnuts are a favorite stop of mine at the Portland Farmers Market, and while they're available in grocery stores here in Oregon, I think it's awesome the rest of the world gets to try them now. They are awesome (pro tip: get the pancake mix should you be lucky enough to visit their farmer's market stall).
33 Pieces of Cheese was featured in AKB's inaugural box, along with a lot of other really fun cheese-themed items, including a neato bamboo cheese spreader, flour sack towel, original letterpressed "fig and onion jam" recipe, porcelain cheese place cards, cheese storage papers ... I'm trying not to ruin the surprise, but there's a lot of fun stuff in there.
Check out A Kitchen Box!