Events: Vans Book Release Party

Vans hosted a release party Thursday, June 4, for its new book Vans Off The Wall: Stories of Sole From Vans Originals, which became available June 1. Vans also released a schedule of signings across the country. Transworld SURF and Ride BMX were also on the scene, so make sure to check out their photos, too.

We recently did an interview about the book with Vans VP of Marketing Doug Palladini. Here are a few excerpts:

Q: What's the distribution model that you want for this book?

It's not that we don't want the books sold in the big places, you will see it in the big places, but it's also really important to us that the book is available where people buy Vans.  They [Abrams] fully understood that we have our own network of action sports shops that we need to support first and foremost and the places where these guys traditionally don't have access from a sales perspective. So we worked out a really good way for the shops to be able to order the book directly through an 800 number via a credit card and they really understood the smaller, specialty nature of our business.

Q: What does a coffee table art book do for a brand?

It was a probably the hardest part of putting the book project together to figure out what we wanted the book to be. You know, you have everything from very self-promotional self-aggrandizing books about companies that you've seen out there and then you have guys that take more of a business oriented outlook about how they started with five bucks in their pocket and ended up with a gigantic shoe brand. Then you have the other books, which are basically historical, told in chronological history, and we didn't really like any of those options. So we tried to do something a little bit out of the ordinary for the book. What the Vans book did is create a series of vignettes that collectively tell the story of who Vans is. We are music, we are art, we are pop culture, we are fashion, in addition to surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, bmx and motocross – the other things that you would obviously associate us with. By telling twenty some odd different stories across the board I think in reading the 208 pages you get a good collective feel for who we are. The book jumps around from Jeff Rowley, to the Warp Tour to custom shoes, to Joel Tudor to the Triple Crown…

Q: So it's a lot of ground to cover in one book?

It is a lot of ground to cover, but we just try to pick the 20 most interesting stories that collectively tell the story of the brand. The other thing that was important to us is that it wasn't a narrative it was told by the original voices of the brand.  So I wrote the book but a lot of the words in there are spoken directly from the mouths of Tony Alva, of Joel Tudor of Jeff Rowley of Steve Van Doren – the people who really have made the brand, I think that's a critical part.

Q: What's the price?
$24.95. That's the suggested retail price.

Q: Is it a hardcover?
Hardcover, 208 pages, 365 colored photos,

Q: That seems from what I've seen pretty low-priced for a legit big coffee table book. Is it designed to be more a marketing thing or a revenue stream?
No from Vans perspective it's not designed to be a revenue stream, but from the publishers perspective you better believe it is.

We just wanted to agree on a price that would allow a lot of people to have the book. There is so many people in the world who have emotional connection to Vans I think it was smart that it was priced a little bit more affordably than creating a $250, 80-pound thing that not many people were going be able to get.

I think that Lindsay Burns should get some credit. She was the photo editor and did an amazing job pulling things together. Lindsay spent about a year digging from every crevice and cranny of the world to find the best people and I think she did a stellar job. And Jeremy Taylor, our creative director who designed the book, because it's just beautiful. To me the beauty of what he designs is he allowed the photos and the words to do their job and it doesn't look like it was overtly designed.

It really took the whole village to make this thing happen and I hope people like it. At the end of the day, if people really read it and feel like it accurately describes why they love Vans, then I'll be happy.