A great new pipe book : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

A great new pipe book

Rick Newcombe, author of In Search of Pipe Dreams, now has a second book out, Still Searching for Pipe Dreams. P&T asked Newcombe to comment.

Who are you and what are your qualifications for writing about pipes?

I love to write, and I love pipes—collecting them, smoking them, refurbishing them and a hundred other activities associated with pipes. I started smoking a pipe 35 years ago as a way to quit cigarettes, and that was one of the best decisions of my life. Frank Burla, who founded the internationally famous Chicago pipe show, recently sent me a letter saying that I had become a legend in the hobby. I think I’m too young to be a legend, but it was a nice compliment.

As for who I am … I was born in Chicago in 1950, studied at Georgetown and at the University of Chicago, with interests in history, politics, journalism and business. I have been an advertising copywriter for Leo Burnett, a reporter and editor for UPI, general manager of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, president of Rupert Murdoch’s News America Syndicate and an entrepreneur—the founder of Creators (www.creators.com), which is a worldwide media company based in Southern California. We were in Los Angeles for 25 years, but the business tax forced us to move in 2012 to Hermosa Beach, which was a good thing because we bought our own building. Creators is a family business, and my son Jack, aged 30, runs the company as president.

What do you hope to accomplish for the hobby with these books?

The hobby keeps changing, and I’m always amazed at the exciting new developments. What is important for me is to tell you what I like and to encourage you to tell me what you like. It is important that I have fun with my pipe collecting and pipe friendships, and I try to communicate my enthusiasm for the hobby with my books.

What are the best things about being a pipe smoker?

Without a doubt the best aspect of pipe smoking is creating a Zen-like state of mind. In one of the chapters, I interviewed a bunch of experienced pipe smokers, asking them about their favorite time of day to enjoy a pipe, and their answers were all over the map. But what they had in common was that each one of them said they turn to their pipes for relaxation and meditation.

In Search of Pipe Dreams and Still Searching for Pipe Dreams are two very different books. How did the second come about?

The content is different, but the format is similar in that I reprint speeches and articles that I have written over the years, though more than a third of Still Searching for Pipe Dreams consists of new material. I always wanted a smaller book—more sleek, a faster read and easy to carry around, which the second one is. In addition, the digital revolution has changed book publishing forever, with e-books poised to out-sell all other books. Both of mine are available on Kindle, Nook, iPad and all the other forms of electronic book tablets. Originally my second book was going to be an e-book only, but at the last minute I decided to do a limited print run, and that will be sold out soon. I’m not sure if I will go back to press or just stick with the e-books. As for content, I have no shortage of opinions in both books, but I avoid dogma like the plague.

Did you find when you finished In Search of Pipe Dreams that you still had much to explore?

Absolutely—because I love everything about pipes and the pipe world. I am in awe of great pipemakers. I love reading books and articles about pipes, even if I don’t always agree with the writers. I love studying the history of various pipe brands. I love experimenting with ways to make old pipes look and smoke like new. Most important these days, I love making friends in the pipe community. Pipe friendships are like no others because we share a passion for something that is unfathomable to nearly everyone else.

How would you characterize the two books? The first seems to go into specific pipe brands while the second seems to look at the pipe community and the fun of pipe smoking in a more detailed manner. Does that seem correct to you?

Yes, that is a good summary. In both cases I place a premium on writing in a conversational style—so that the reader feels as if he knows me—as if we are chatting over coffee and a pipe. I also try to make sure that the books are compelling reading. I love it when I get fan mail saying “I couldn’t put it down,” or words to that effect. A pipe smoker from Sweden sent me a note recently saying that my new book kept him enthralled during a long flight to Asia, and that was the ultimate compliment.

Read the rest of the story in P&T magazine or the online digital edition.

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Category: Winter 2013

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