Lord John Press
It took us until the twenty-first century to join the twentieth century but we are here now so why quibble over mere decades. We used to issue lists and catalogues of first editions and new publications but the last one was in 1992. It was such tedious work that it is a wonder that it got done.
A brief history of the Lord John Press goes this way: I began reading seriously while in the U.S. Navy in the early 50s, graduated to collecting first editions in the 60s which lead to corresponding with and meeting the authors I was interested in. Ever the intemperate I was collecting 60 authors until Andreas Brown of Gotham Book Mart cautioned me that it would soon get out of hand. It did and I calmed down. I developed a fondness for signed books and began buying limited editions from John Martin of Black Sparrow Press. John was one of the brightest people in the book business, a great collector, now retired, and an astute observer of how things work and how to make things happen. In other words, a literary pathfinder and an honest judge of talent. Let's press on.
In the 70s I began buying books from a man named Frank Hallman of Aloe Editions out of New York. I had a standing order of five copies of each publication, nifty little books in wrappers (soft covers), each one numbered and signed by the author. I think it was 1975 or 76 they stopped coming. I heard from Robert Wilson of Phoenix Bookshop that Frank had died. I waited for quite a while for someone to pick up the gauntlet and follow in Hallman's footsteps. No one did. So I did. The first Lord John publication was a broadside by Joyce Carol Oates, but the first book was Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu by John Updike, who is still my favorite author and the writer we have published the most often. Prior to beginning publishing I had a modest career as a bookseller, selling first editions by catalog, specializing in signed books. All the while we have been publishing we have continued to issue the occasional catalog of first editions. Publishing these little books has always been a chancy proposition and the close proximity with authors enabled me to put together signed books and manuscripts which ended up supporting the press. Good collectors have good instincts so when I began working with Gerald R. Ford I also started putting together a collection of letters and documents by U.S. Presidents. And my son Bill encouraged me to enter the film poster field and do the same thing that I had done with books, get them signed. Another avenue, another wonderful adventure. And it has led to Lord John Film Festival. All roads lead to books or movies, that's my experience.
The most asked question over the years has been how did I come up with Lord John Press as a name. Well, it was relatively simple. I work with yellow legal pads as a best friend and make lists of names or ideas until something jells. I listed the authors that I wanted to work with: Updike, Barth, Fowles, Gardner, Cheever, Hawkes and they were all named John so that was easy and then I added "Lord" to marry Great Britain and America. It was like naming a child and now when I see Lord John Press in print, it is just like seeing my own name and I still get a rush when it appears in print or someone else's article. It was also a kind of homage to John Updike because one of the rooms in my home is devoted to his work.
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