Our Beloved Founder • 15 July 2006 • The SnowBlog
Our Beloved Founder
I have been utterly taken with the wonders of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, the most beautiful, lingersome and welcoming bookshop I have ever seen, that recently opened in Bath - and I have been impressed not least by their Book Monkey. In his new blog on Guardian Online proprietor Nic explains:
"In my head [Mr B] is an anonymous cane-wielding philanthropic book collector who searches the world for great books for our customers while the shop is manned by his faithful assistant the Book Monkey (the character on our logo)."
To celebrate the arrival of this fine shop (which I know will flourish from the start because its founders are so right-thinking) I feel moved to introduce a character who I like to think the impressive Mr. B. would have counted as a friend. Few people know that Snowbooks was not, as is widely reported, founded in March 2003 by me and Rob, but is in fact a publishing house established in 1876 by the estimable Artemus Snow, founder of Snowbooks, charitable gentleman, lover of fine books, progressive employer and philanthropist. It was Artemus Snow who engaged that young pup FW Taylor (father of Scientific Management, time and motion studies, and production line theory) in debate at the Royal Society in 1892, a debate that soon threatened to develop into a fistfight. Snow ultimately won the debate, his argument, delivered in his learned, quiet and measured style, that "production line management destroyed any sense of wonder, enjoyment, pride or ownership in employee's working lives" beating Taylor's braying, nasal complaints. Snow pointed to the success of his fledgling publishing business, where rather than being restricted to a single role, employees worked in all manner of functions to produce with pride their books.
Sadly the history books fail to recognise the true outcome of this pivotal debate, and Scientific Management was heralded as the management fad of the day, subjecting millions for decades to a fate working within functional silos, destined to remain unfulfilled and frustrated within their careers.
On the 6th day of every month we at Snowbooks pause to remember our beloved founder. We remember his legacy of kindness, and his driving desire to foster a sense of pride in his workers. We remember his love of books; his unswerving attention to detail; his charm and tact; his love of developing technologies (the telephone, invented the same year Snowbooks was founded and five of which Artemus Snow procured with the proceeds from his first publication, and that new-fangled device the china toilet, invented 1885. It'll never catch on) and his desire to always look to the future. Artemus Snow, our founder, we remember you and pledge to keep your flame alive today.