Thursday, December 8, 2011

Funhouse flashback: "The strange world of vanity publishing"

I'm currently reading, and thoroughly enjoying, the obsessive and very funny bibliophile chronicle Robin Ince's Bad Book Club (more on Robin in a later blog entry), which includes in its front matter the following statement “He does not believe the books described within are bad books. They are just different.” This put me in mind of my own favorite “different” books, the vanity press titles I used to copyedit, proofread and write cover copy for (yes, I've had a few odd jobs in publishing).

I won't attempt to offer wry observations on these works, since they don't need them; they speak for themselves. I let them do so a few times a number of years ago on the Funhouse TV show.

I hereby present the pertinent two-thirds of the fourth (and best) early episode, from 1996, where I presented vanity-press books. Included are numerous unusual covers, several mind-boggling titles, and extremely ripe and bizarre prose. I repeatedly assert on-air that I'm not making fun of these books, because I do know that in many cases they are the fruit of many, many hours of labor by their utterly sincere authors. Plus, the writer of the above title lives in NYC and might've seen the show. I know how easily fetish-folk take offense and didn't want him running after me on a city street brandishing a wet rain slicker.

The first part of the presentation features a raft of eye-catching covers and unusual titles:

The second part finds me sifting through more covers and reading from two of the more memorable items, a book of “observations” and a very strange fictional narrative written by a woman who has a fiendish plan to stop her daughter from having premarital sex. You can't make this stuff up:

No comments: