The author and his wife (Marguerite) owned and operated Noah's Ark Pet Shop in East Lansing Michigan from October 1967 through June 1976. During that time they sold many hundreds, perhaps several thousands of tarantulas as pets. However, try as they might, they couldn't find an acceptable book that detailed tarantulas' biology, care, or breeding. The result was spending as much as 45 minutes on each tarantula sale, trying to describe its proper care. Worse, the customer seldom remembered the long lecture, and often made mistakes in housing, feeding, or other care.
In a telephone conversation with one of their suppliers, Mr. Paul Manger of Florida, the subject of writing such a book was brought up. Paul suggested that Marguerite write a small pamphlet on their care, one that he could sell with the tarantulas he marketed. Marguerite agreed that one was badly needed, but held that she wasn't the one who had the talents for the project. Stan did, however, and she'd bring up the subject with him.
At that time both of the Schultzes were far too busy running the store to pursue the project. However, in 1976 they sold the store. Stan went back to classes at Michigan State University and Marguerite took a position in a local convenience store. However, the idea had made it's mark, and Stan began perusing the MSU library for any and all information available on these remarkable creatures, making notes by hand on yellow legal pads.
Over the next eight years the notes were transcribed to the typed page (first on a typewriter rented by the hour in the MSU library, later on one purchased for the project), then onto a primitive word processor in John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas. During that time the tarantula collection waxed and waned depending on the amount of ready cash available and the availability of tarantulas. Photographs were taken of any facet of the tarantulas' existences that drew their attention. The photographic equipment was rather primitive by today's standards (Konica FP camera, 50 mm/f2.8 lens, portrait lenses, $10 electronic flash, discount house tripod), but demonstrated that useful photos are not so much the product of the amount of money spent on equipment, but rather on how the available equipment is used.
The first edition of The Tarantula Keeper's Guide was published by Sterling Publishing in May 1984. The press run was approximately 5000 copies, paperback and hardcover combined. However, Sterling did not have a very good distribution network in the pet industry, sales never reached expectations, and the book went out of print within 24 months. The last 200 hardcover copies were subsequently purchased by the Schultzes from the publisher and sold to hobbyists who contacted them through casual sources.
Very soon after its publication, several serious errors became apparent in the book. These occurred as the result of confusion between different versions of the original manuscript and through errors in the photographic layout during the publication process. As a result, the Schultzes developed a single page list of errata and attempted to distribute it to everyone who was discovered to have purchased a copy of the book. In a continuing effort to set these errors straight, that Erratum Sheet is reproduced as part of this website.
If anyone reading this webpage knows of the location of a copy of the first edition of The Tarantula Keeper's Guide, they are encouraged to print off a copy of the Erratum Sheet and paste it inside the front cover for the reference of anyone reading it in the future. Better still, try to convince the owner to acquire a copy of the newest edition instead!
The first edition has now been superseded by newer editions and is of little importance or interest except for a small historical value to aficionados who are attempting to maintain complete libraries of tarantula related books. Copies of edition one are no longer available except through used book sellers. Interested collectors are encouraged to perform searches for it with any of the Internet based used book sources such as Abe Books, Alibris and Amazon.com.
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Copyright © 1998, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 1998-July-08.
The last revision occurred on 2013-Jun-30.