The Books came into being in 2000, when Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong met through a friend while they happened to be living in the same apartment building in New York City. Although they were from vastly different backgrounds, they quickly recognized their shared love of acoustic playing and found sound, and immediately began pooling their resources. Fueled by their personal collections of samples and home recordings, and driven by a somewhat odd sense of humor, their first tracks naturally emerged in the organic-collage style that has defined their sound ever since. When Tom Steinle heard The Books first musical efforts he urged them to make a full-length release for his Cologne based label, Tomlab, and their first record Thought for Food was subsequently released in the summer of 2002. During the two+ years of its composition, the Books moved around quite a bit: de Jong going back and forth between New York and the Netherlands, and Zammuto moving to Los Angeles, then suburban Boston, and then walking all 2200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. During this time they kept in touch through mailed CDR’s, telephone and occasional visits. It wasn’t until Zammuto temporarily settled down as an assistant inn-keeper in Hot Springs, NC that Thought for Food was finally finished in the freezing cold basement of Elmer’s Inn. It was also at Elmer’s Inn where The Books met their good friend and occasional collaborator, Anne Doerner. Encouraged by the unexpected success of their first album, de Jong and Zammuto relocated their piecemeal studio into the freezing cold pantry of a rickety apartment in North Adams, MA, where they composed their second album The Lemon of Pink, which was released by Tomlab in the fall of 2003.
Meanwhile, as The Books continued to build up their library of found sounds and instrumental recordings, they met long time radio producer, Gregory Whitehead, and produced the sound track to his Sony Award winning radio drama, The Loneliest Road, which debuted on the BBC in the fall of 2003. They then performed their first live set alongside Gregory at WBEZ Chicago’s Third Coast Audio Festival in October of 2003. In parallel with their sonic work, they began to develop a library of images and videos, which became the subject of their website, launched with the release of The Lemon of Pink.
During the winter of 2004, The Books began work on their third record Lost and Safe, this time relocating to a relatively warm bedroom in an old Victorian house in North Adams, MA. Departing somewhat from the ‘folktronica’ sound that they pioneered with their first two records, Lost and Safe incorporates a new set of instrumental sounds and treatments, including vintage clavinet, as well as homemade electro-acoustic sound sculptures made from drain pipes, filing cabinets, and circular metal plates, etcetera. Samples are carefully integrated with original lyrics to create a song-based record that seamlessly expands The Books' sound into even more unexpected realms.