I have been a publisher now for over 30 years! It all began as a hobby, or as an adjunct to my interests in comic books, Tarzan, and other areas of the woods frequented by collectors.
Collectors. That's been the key word in everything I publish. Here's what to do: you find an area of collecting that has at least a few
thousand really devoted, serious collectors...it takes that many to make this work. Then you print something that these few thousand guys simply gotta have.
Example: In 1972 there were several thousand serious collectors of EC comics. Over 99% of them had never seen the detail in original EC art, and had never seen it as it was drawn, in black and white. I published EC portfolio one at a retail price of $10. I printed 1000 of them. They all sold in less than a year.
Example: Readers of the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially his Tarzan books, had considerable trouble tracking down all the illustrations which were done for the ERB stories and published in out-of-print pulp magazines, or in comic strips that were hard to find, or in first edition dust jackets which were very expensive. I published The Edgar Rice Burroughs Library of Illustration, a three-volume limited edition set of books which originally sold for $150 in a pre-publication offer. The edition size was 2000 copies, and I sold them all. Now, on the collector's market , if you can find that set of books for less than $500, you're lucky.
...and so on. That's the secret.
I then crossed over into entertainment publishing, focusing on another of my loves-the guitar. My first publication in this genre was a book
called Chet Atkins: Me and My Guitars, and like all my other books, it's expensive, but if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Chet Fan like I have been for the last forty years, it is so nice and so full of goodies that you gotta have it. It was a limited edition of only 1200 numbered copies, in a handmade slipcase, printed on the most expensive paper I could find, using the best photography I could hire and the best printing and binding available. Sure, I could have done it cheaper, in paperback, with little grainy black and white pictures, but that wouldn't have been any fun for me. The way I did it, with the help of my brother Michael who is a good writer and also a CP (Chet Person), it came out
great and I am SO proud of it. Click on this link: Chet Book, to see an article and some pictures from the book.
Following the resounding success of the book on my friend Chet Atkins (the limited edition sold out in short order) a trade edition of the
same book was published by Hal Leonard, Inc. It retails for $30 and I have copies here if you want to order one. If you want your copy autographed, I'll be happy to do that.
One of the people who was impressed by the Chet Atkins book was guitarist Les Paul, who had been one of Chet's main influences and guitar heroes. Les liked the Chet book so much that he asked my brother Mike and I if we would do a similar book on his career, and we undertook that venture in 2002. We again made many trips to interview Les, our Nashville photographer Wolf Hoffmann (the same guy that did such a great job on the photos for the Chet book) also made several trips to do his fabulous photography on all of Les's many guitars (Chet had only around 60 guitars, but Les had more than two hundred!). We then scoured the internet looking for old photos of Les Paul both with and without his partner, Mary Ford, and then we produced LES PAUL--IN HIS OWN WORDS. This book was limited to 1500 copies, each signed personally by Les Paul. This limited edition is also hard to find now for less than $500. If you'd like to order a copy just e-mail me. As with everything I sell, the Les Paul book comes with a total satisfaction guarantee. Incidentally, not one person has asked for a refund on the Chet book or the Les book. Everyone who has received them has been delighted with them.
The Les Paul has also now been released as a trade hardcover. You can check it out through the link at the top of the page.