Pint-Sized Bookstore Takes Up Residence in LA

Tiny Oof Bookstore opens in #LosAngeles #bookstores http://bit.ly/2x0B2s0 @finebooks

Though already home to a sizable number of independent, brick-and-mortar bookshops, Los Angeles recently welcomed a new addition to the family: OOF Bookstore, which opened its doors in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Cypress Park on July 2. Read all about this pint-size place on the Fine Books Blog.

I Work Like a Gardener: A New Translation of Joan Miró’s Art Philosophy

Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist Joan Miró (1893-1983) is perhaps best known for his Surrealist sculptures and activity with the anarchic Dada art movement. Miró catapulted into the art world stratosphere, ending up on many contemporary art collectors’ wishlists.

In 1958, the artist spoke to Parisian critic Yvon Taillandier about his life and work, and that conversation was published in a French limited edition of seventy-five copies in 1964. Now, Princeton Architectural Press is releasing a new English translation of the book on October 10.  Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog  .

Lawrence of Arabia Exhibit at Maggs Bros. New Bloomsbury Location

On July 6, 1917, the disparate Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Peninsula joined forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Aqaba, made famous by the 1962 motion picture Lawrence of Arabia. The battle represented a turning point in the war in the Middle East, and the story and images of Lawrence on camelback with Bedouin cavalry charging across the desert have captivated the public imagination ever since.

Thursday marked the centennial of the Battle of Aqaba, and antiquarian bookseller Maggs Bros. Ltd. is exhibiting material relating to Lawrence and his exploits while also celebrating the firm’s move to 48 Bedford Square, a stone’s throw away from the British Museum. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog.

Firefighter Duckies!

Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 1-4.

 

The firefighter duckies are brave little quackers who valiantly race into all sorts of dangerous situations. Whether they’re rescuing gorillas from cupcake pyromaniacs, whales stuck in carnivorous trees, entangled lemurs, or monsters from bad hair days, the mighty ducks are here to help. After each drama unfolds, our fearless heroes slowly begin to tire, and by the end are ready for some well-deserved shut-eye. Socksquatch and The Obstinate Pen author Frank W. Dormer delivers an over-the-top absurdist’s delight, with bright and bold illustrations dominated by ducky shades of orange and yellow. The art has a slightly cartoonish feel and expertly matches the silliness of the book. The repeating text of They are brave. They are strong mimics the ducks’ energy level, both gently losing steam as the day wears on.

An excellent read-aloud selection sure to become a regular on the storytime rotation.

Harry Potter and History Collide at the New York Academy of Medicine

Bezoars, screaming mandrakes, and basilisks all figure in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but their origins date back centuries. Now, the New York Academy of Medicine has launched a digital exhibition exploring the connections between Rowling’s books and historical texts. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog. 

An Odd Book

An Odd Book: How the First Modern Pop Culture Reporter Conquered New York, by R. Scott Williams; R. Scott Williams, $18.99, 272 pages. 

“Since my earliest recollection, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter and I cannot tell you why.” –Odd McIntyre

At the height of his career, Oscar Odd McIntyre (1884-1938) reached millions of readers across America and Europe through his daily column that chronicled the glittering spectacle that was Manhattan of the early twentieth century. Odd’s “New York Day by Day” was syndicated in over 400 newspapers in the 1920s. His prolific output and widespread popularity more than paid the bills; Odd’s daily columns brought home an estimated $200,000 a year–no small potatoes in 1920 or 2017.

How this shy, high-school dropout from Gallipolis, Ohio, went from scraping by to hob-nobbing with the likes of Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin is the captivating topic of a recently published biography by R. Scott Williams.

An Odd Book: How the First Modern Pop Culture Reporter Conquered New York is actually a dual biography: the first chronicles Odd’s hard-fought battle to the top of the newspaper world, aided in no small part by his enterprising wife, Maybelle. The second is a parallel examination of the rise in power and influence of newspapers in the first half of the twentieth century. Media tycoons W.R. Hearst, E.W. Scripps, Joseph Pulitzer and others ushered in the golden years of journalism and the newspaper industry. The fierce competition between various newspaper outlets created the perfect environment to support Odd’s prolific career.

odd2

image courtesy of R.W. Williams 

After Odd died in 1938, the man who chronicled many of the major cultural events of the early twentieth century fell quietly into oblivion. Though this is not the first biography of the newsman–the first was written by Odd’s longtime editor and biographer, Charles B. Driscoll–little has been written about Odd until now.

As the chief operating officer of sales and marketing at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., author R. Scott Williams seemed uniquely suited to resurrect Odd’s story for a new generation. “Basically, I liked the way Odd wrote. I also liked the path he took to fame and the struggles he was up against.” (Odd was a notoriously terrible speller, suffered from severe anxiety disorders, depression, and likely undiagnosed pernicious anemia.)

Rather than pursue a traditional publisher, the author chose to create his own imprint (R. Scott Williams) and self-publish. The concept of a midlist author is practically nonexistent these days, with the big publishing houses throwing all of their resources behind established, “blockbuster” names. This leaves little money or interest in cultivating emerging and midlist authors, and some professional writers are giving up the gauntlet and self-publishing to make their books a reality.

Williams turned to self-publishing after learning that his book wouldn’t get much media support or advertising from a publishing house. “I floated the idea with a couple of publisher contacts but they felt like it was going to be a challenge because no one had heard of him. They suggested I write about someone people knew so that it would sell…but that’s no fun.”

So, how did this self-published book stack up against a traditionally published biography? As a journalist by trade, Williams knows how to craft a story, and a detailed bibliography highlights the author’s commitment to getting the facts right. But Williams didn’t just write everything in a Word document and then upload it to a self-publishing website–this sophisticated production was professionally edited, proofread, and designed. Williams put together the press release as well as a landing page for the book, and maintains robust Twitter and Instagram accounts. In short, he and a production team did everything a traditional publisher would have done, the entire package signaling a positive turn in the evolution of self-publishing. It’s not magic; it’s hustle and elbow grease, but the result is proof positive that a self-published book can be worthwhile and enjoyable, perhaps a harbinger of more well-crafted, thoughtful books written outside the mainstream publication route.

Now comes the hard part–getting the word out that An Odd Book is very much worth reading. Like his subject, Williams is tenaciously reaching out to readers through a carefully calibrated media blitz, one that will hopefully pay off. We wish him the very best of luck that An Odd Book finds an appreciative audience eager to read about a man whose words defined an era over a century ago.

Find out more about the book, as well as how to get a copy for yourself, here.