My third book and first ebook was a classic even before I was born. Originally titled State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols, it was long not only the standard reference but virtually the only reference on a topic variously linked to Americana and trivia.
Since George Earlie Shankle’s book was first published in 1934, it has been republished several times. I was the first to attempt to update it and at the same time the first to convert it into an ebook. To help distinguish it from the original, I shortened the title to State Names, Flags and Other Symbols.
Whether or not Shankle’s book is better than its main competitor—State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide by Benjamin and Barbara Shearer— is hard to say; it’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges.
The Shearers’ book was last published in 2002, making it more current, though still outdated. Both books are amazing for their relative lack of pictures (generally limited to state flags and seals) and their myopic view of a subject that can be surprisingly interesting, maybe even somehow relevant.
The question may in fact be moot; both books will soon be rendered obsolete by Geobop’s State Symbols, which is the beginning of a series.
Shankle does deserve credit for doing a lot of original research on the origin of state names and nicknames, and much of his work (which is in the public domain) will appear in Geobop’s State Names, Mottoes and Slogans.
So why should anyone buy a revised, annotated copy of a book that was written before Alaska and Hawaii were even states, especially when that book will be rendered even more obsolete by the definitive state symbols reference?
If you want to buy just one book about state symbols, Geobop’s State Symbols will blow the competition out of the water. If you’re interested primarily in state names and nicknames (as well as slogans), save your money for Geobop’s State Names, Mottoes and Slogans.
But if you have a hard core interest in state symbols or Americana, you might want to add Shankle’s book to your collection. Now that it’s available as an ebook priced at just $9.99, why not?
The makeover does offer some notable improvements.
The book has been reorganized and nicely styled, making it easier to navigate and more attractive to boot. Comments inserted here and there make it more useful, and current lists of flowers, trees, birds and songs representing all 50 states make the book seem a little less prehistoric.
Libraries may have a special interest in State Names, Flags and Other Symbols. The original is found in libraries across America and remains a popular reference. Yet it remains badly outdated and is not available in an ebook format.
The new ebup/ebook version therefore fills a gap and may be surprisingly useful. As a bonus, its cover is far more attractive than the original’s.;)
In the meantime, get ready for Geobop’s State Symbols, which will probably be published sometime in July or August, 2017.
While you’re waiting, feel free to comment on State Names, Flags and Other Symbols below. If your eagle eyes spot any mistakes or omissions I made while converting the original to a text format, I’m all ears.
Incidentally, a number of parties, including Google, have digitized Shankle’s original book and published it online as a PDF file. Yet these digitized versions keep disappearing.
It appears that people are nervous because of uncertainty regarding the original book’s copyright status. Hopefully, the communication I received from a publisher’s legal department will put that fear to rest: The book is now in the public domain.