A book exploring how cyclists were the first group in a generation to use roads and were the first to push for high-quality sealed surfaces and were the first to lobby for national funding and leadership for roads has sold out out in hardback form before even hitting the shelves.
Carlton Reid’s book Roads Were Not Built For Cars was published in just 50 hardback copies, all of which sold out before they were to be shipped on Tuesday.
200 or so paperbacks are still available, making them something of a collector’s item, as there is no plan to print more.
However the multimedia iPad publication and other digital editions are freely available from next week (there’s a preview here).
The second edition of the book will be available on Amazon eventually but the first edition will only be available direct from Carlton at his website.
And there is another way to read it, as Carlton explains: “A great many historians – social and automotive – have dismissed the role of cyclists in the history of roads and of motoring.
“This is a historical wrong I want to right. I want my research to be available to as many people as possible so I plan to publish every single word of the book for free online.
“A PDF will go online early next year. It won't contain illustrations but it'll probably contain the 90,000-word notes section. I'm placing the full text online so it's searchable by Google and available to academics.”
The book was marketed on Kickstarter in April 2013, with a target for fundraising of £4,000. It eventually raised £17,000.
Carlton said: “Before the Kickstarter campaign I wondered whether anybody would want to pay for a book about 19th Century cyclists changing the world for the better.
“With £17,000 raised... I found out there was demand for the information.
“Now nearly four years in gestation the book has taken a lot longer to research, write and publish than I thought it would.
“This is mainly because I span off at tangents, finding new areas to explore, digging out deeper and more convincing evidence to show that cyclists had far more influence on government road policies than previously thought.
“Not just previously thought by the public at large, but by social history and transport academics, too.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.