Slate article saves cartographer’s business

The Register-Guard | Slate
David Imus was $117,000 in debt. He’d spent two years working on his map “The Essential Geography of the United States of America,” and won the “Best of Show” award in the 2010 Cartography and Geographic Information Society’s map competition, but the honor did “absolutely nothing” for Imus, writes Bob Welch.

But then Seth Stevenson saw the map. The Slate contributor toasted Imus’ meticulous mapmaking in a piece called “The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See.”

The longer you look at Imus’ map, the more deeply you feel the complexity and the artistry. It comes out of a tradition in which maps were made by hand using hot wax and X-Acto knives. You have no doubt that every tiny decision on Imus’ map was made for a reason.

Imus’ website crashed from all the traffic the Slate piece engendered, Welch writes.

By week’s end, after he’d cobbled together friends to handle calls, e-mails and purchases, 8,000 maps had sold, ranging in price from $12.95 (folded) to $39.95 (laminated).

National Public Radio discovered him. By last week, more than 11,000 maps had sold; gross sales had reached almost $500,000.

“I can pay off my debts,” said Imus, who admits to a touch of discombobulation over the sudden success.

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  • Anonymous

    I found out how the Slate story got into SLATE. Turns out that the Slate author Seth Stevenson earlier wrote a review of Ken Jennings’ “Maphead” last fall of 2011. David saw the article, and asked if he could send Slate a copy of his map to take a look at. Slate said sure. After examining the map, and doing some reporting around it, Slte’s editors decided there was a story there. and THEN the story went viral. BRAVO! good reporting, good subject. SLATE scooped New York Times, AP and CNN. BRAVO

  • Anonymous

    and 2. reporter Bob Welch at the Reg Guard, old friend of mine, not from Eugene itself where I used to live in 1980s, but online friend, he is one of the BEST newspaper columnists in America and I hope he gets recognized as such someday. Since Oregon is off the radar of NYC and DC and Boston media punditry, journalists in Oregon seldom get recogized since their papers don’t have media stardom written about the, but the Reg Guard is a great community paper and Bob Welch writes some of the best LOCAL columns in the USA bar none. REALLY. somebody interview him! he’ s got stories to tell. American stories!

  • Anonymous

    I have one question, two actually, for David Imus: is he  related to Don Imus in any way, besides the great hair? SMILE ..and two: how did Slate writer Stephenson first hear about Imus and the map story.? COOL get….. but did he contact David first and did Imus PR team contact him. what was the genesis of the Slate story? Dish. PR wags and joourno wannabees want to know the secret!