12 August, 2013

What Makes a Nuclear Power Plant Work? - Out of Print Review

Ok, so this is a bit of a departure in a few ways. I haven't posted a lot of picture book reviews lately (I'm about to! I just haven't yet), nor do I usually cover nonfiction, and I don't think I ever post about books that are out of print. But this book was just so awesome I couldn't miss writing about it. 

What Makes a Nuclear Power Plant Work? by Erich Fuchs
Translated from the German by Edite Kroll
Copyright 1971, 1972 by Verlag Heinrich Ellerman, Munich

So anyway, like I normally do of a Monday, I stopped by my local library to pick up my Hold books. I usually have a couple and something to return. Always, I take a few moments to look (ok, really look at one-by-one) all of the books in the sale section. This is a set of shelves set aside for books that were donated or are being discarded from the collection for whatever reason. Everything's a quarter.

I read the title first, What Makes a Nuclear Power Plant Work?in Helvetica on a gray spine. Pretty uninspiring, don't you think? The cover wasn't much more exciting. I pulled it out anyway.

Then I opened it. 

Click to embiggen

Oh. My.


I just want to frame every page.

It's a very simplified overview of how a nuclear power plant works, with many considerations: why are they situated by water, what technology is required to run them (there are some amusing drawings of punch card readers), and how we use the energy they generate. So it's actually pretty informative.

It's not a pristine copy; I mean, I think it's been in the library for about 40 years, but the colors are still bright. It's actually quite a cheerful book that doesn't cover possible disastrous meltdown effects in depth (it only mentions "terrible consequences"). 

If you're a lover of graphic design, picture books, and nostalgia, definitely pick this up if you come across a copy. I snagged mine for 25 cents, but there are a few available from used booksellers online. (There's one listed for $247... it's probably worth every penny if it's truly mint. They don't make them like this any more.)

I hope you enjoyed this little diversion from our usual reviews. Would you like to see more reviews of old-school books? Let me know in the comments!


  1. you know how i feel about good design in picture books. this looks amazing. so glad you decided to go past that cover and check out the inside.

  2. I think this looks so beautiful. I like it that you did something different with this post! :)

  3. I loved the images you sent me. I can't wait to see this one in person

  4. I like that you used embiggen in a sentence :)
    This books looks amazing and yes, please, I would love to see more out-of-print book reviews. Not too long ago I reviewed a picture book by Dan Yaccarino that I found at my library, only to realize when I started looking it up that it is out of print. I didn't know he had been around long enough for that :) I think if I found this book, I would have such a hard time keeping it and not re-selling it. I mean, $250? Is a lot of books.

  5. *Rothfuss fan fistbump*
    Yay! I think I will peek at the library sale a lot more often because of this. For 25 cents I can't really lose. And yeah, if it were not so gorgeous and hard to find I would totally auction it off. I think I'll hang on to it for a while :)