BERLIN – Less than a year after it was released, the overwhelmingly popular Vanishing Ocean City has gone into a second printing.
Local author Bunk Mann released Vanishing Ocean City, a photo-dominated historical account of the beach town, in September after years of work. He had 5,000 copies and hoped to sell them over the course of two summers. Six months later, he has fewer than two dozen books left.
“It’s been really gratifying,” Mann said. “The locals have really supported the book.”
To ensure that tourists and summer residents have the opportunity to pick up a copy, a second printing of the coffee table book has been arranged.
“The books were not on the Boardwalk last year so it’s going to be interesting to see how the out-of-town people respond to it,” he said.
The 220-page book, which includes more than 500 photos and close to 200 interviews, is available online at www.vanishingoceancity.com and at roughly 30 area stores. Through the website, Mann has sold roughly 1,000 books to people in 38 states. The rest have been sold by him personally or in stores in Ocean City and Berlin. Mann was pleased to find out that several of the stores carrying his book were using the money generated by its sales to give back to local causes.
“There are quite a few that donate their share of the proceeds to different charities,” he said. “It’s been a really nice thing.”
Mann says he’s saving the money he makes through the sale of the books to put his grandchildren through college. To Mann though, the book was a worthwhile endeavor even before he sold the first copy.
“It’s good to preserve this history,” he said. “Even if I hadn’t sold that many books, it still would have been a gratifying project.”
He enjoyed meeting people as he compiled data for Vanishing Ocean City and has continued to enjoy it as more and more people have contacted him to share their memories of the resort following publication of the book. He plans to collect stories and photos during the next few years to add to the book, which he hopes to re-release in the future.
“My plan is to release another printing in three or four years where I carry the book forward,” he said.
Mann said he owed much of the book’s success to publisher Sandy Phillips.
“The reason the book looks as good as it does is because of her talent,” he said. “Most of what I gave her was a yellow legal pad with pictures taped to it.”
Mann also recognized the people of Ocean City for buying the book and The Dispatch for generating interest in the effort by publishing many of Mann’s historic photos on a weekly basis.
Born in Salisbury, Mann had a lot of his own experiences with Ocean City to add to the growing history book. From operating beach stands in the 1960s to bartending during college, Mann has held a variety of the quintessential summer jobs on the shore growing up. While it has been some years and he is still a local, Mann remembers his summers in Ocean City fondly and didn’t want to let any of those moments disappear with the changing town.
That summarizes the spirit of Vanishing Ocean City, the title coming from a remark made by Mann’s mom while they were watching yet another demolition of an old building. Mann remembers that his mother felt the Ocean City she knew was “vanishing” at the time and he determined that even if it’s gone it won’t be forgotten.
Along with the hundreds of hours’ worth of interviews and first-hand accounts, Mann has dedicated a tremendous amount of time to research, especially of the town’s distant beginnings where eye witnesses weren’t available.
Much of the research was done in local libraries and newspaper archives. Mann was able to track the evolution of Ocean City from small resort and fishing village to tourism destination. He encountered some surprises and more than a few interesting facts during his exploration.
For example, the beach used to have military patrols during the early days of WWII, with the government fearing that the Germans might decide to land an invasion force on Ocean City’s shores.
The famous storms like the March rains in 1962 and Sunfest disaster in 1994 were magnets for Mann’s interest. The granddaddy of all the extreme weather was the hurricane of 1933. That event completely re-shaped Ocean City by creating the inlet.
“To me a good history book is visual as well as written. When people pick this up they go through it first, they look at the pictures,” Mann said.