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.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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