In the 1971 edition of The Whole Earth Catalog, I looked for bamboo. There were two entries, one for the book, Bamboo, by Robert Austin (page 149) and a second for Bamboo Pipes, Making and Playing (page 371). I happen to have Bamboo in my personal library, so thought I would investigate the staying power of the book.
“The adoration and utilization of a towering weed. Civilization as seen by material. Every single thing that plastic isn’t.” Stuart Brand wrote these thoughts at the beginning of the section devoted to Austin and Ueda’s book. He quoted two paragraphs from the book and selected an image from the book of a bamboo fence on a rock wall. The book could be ordered directly through TWEC or from the publisher, John Weatherhill, Inc. in New York. The book retailed for $17.50.
Bamboo is a classic and was one of the first books on bamboo available in the United States. The original idea for the book came from Robert Austin, a graphics consultant and book editor for Reader’s Digest in Tokyo. He collaborated with Koichiro Ueda, a professor emeritus of Kyoto University, president of the Japan Bamboo Industries Association and the leading authority on bamboo in Japan. The photographer for the book was Dana Levy, a graphic designer and creative director of the Tokyo offices of McCann Erickson-Hakuhodo. The text was written by Austin with technical information and input from Ueda. The first edition was printed in Japan. There are three sections: Bamboo: Its Lore and Versatility, Bamboo: Its Beauty and Uses, and Bamboo: Its Growth and Cultivation. It is an excellent reference book with basic information and beautiful images in black and white and color.
Regretfully, it is out-of-print, but still available through Amazon.com or from sellers of out-of-print books from $4.37 to $160.10. I own a first edition, 1970. There were other editions in 1978 and 1985, as far as I could determine from the available books online.
Forty years later, several new books on bamboo have been published. David Farrelly’s, The Book of Bamboo, is a first rate resource book. Here are some additional favorites: