THE BOOK THAT EVERYONE WANTED—the book that buyers and sellers of collectable records regaled me to publish—was a price guide on rhythm & blues group-vocal 45s of the ’50s. Often referred to as ‘doo-wop’ music, it was perhaps the most passionately collected of all music (along with Japanese jazz collectors).
The mostly white guys in New York city who started hunting the really obscure and rare records back in the early ’60s can be argued to be the first modern record collectors—but that’s another story.
Despite how long these records had been collected and talked about, the actual values of even the merely modestly rare and desirable numbers were only known to a small group of aficionados.
The need for such a book was obvious. In fact, O’Sullivan Woodside had attempted to meet that need with a book titled Blues/Rhythm & Blues/Soul (1980) that somehow ignored most of the doo-wop records—along with rare records in general.
As the first printing of The Umphred Guide to Blues and Rhythm & Blues 45s of the ’50s was for an advanced, limited edition, it did not have finished cover artwork. Instead it looked like this: I hand-stamped “Advance Copy” on each book. For more on the whys and whatfors of this book—and the current wheres of the reamaining copies—you’ve come to the right place: Monaural Press.
Fifteen years of planning
So I started planning just such a book in 1986 when I was still with O’Sullivan Woodside and thought the future there was rosy. I continued wishing hoping praying for an opportunity to do such a book when I was writing all the Goldmine books in the ’90s when I thought the future there was rosy, too.
But when I left the confines of Goldmine, I set about realizing such a book, and started Monaural Press with the intentions of building a publishing empire. (Hah!)
Needless to say, that did not happen
Nor is it likely to in this life.
And I’ll tell you why on this blog—evetually.
The phrase “what about the Jets on Gee” was something I heard over and over again while putting the final touches on The Umphred Guide to Blues and Rhythm & Blues 45s of the ’50s. To find out more about this story and the rather rare record at its center, you’ve come to the right place: Monaural Press.
Domain name registration
I registered the domain name ‘monauralpress.com’ four years ago and have been paying an annual fee to keep that name. As I can hardly afford to kiss any good money away, I’m putting this domain to use: Monaural Press (the blog) will be an ongoing work-in-progress.
As this blog is a small cog in my blog-building empire (Hah!), I will pay it some attention every now and then, keeping up some kind of narrative about my ideas for the book that I eventually published, the responses of the collecting community when they became are that I was near publication, getting the book to the printer—and this was way before print-on-demand (POD) was more than an idea—and what happened after receiving my initial shipment of books from the printer.
In September 2001.
(. . .)
And I will end here with what I hope is a pause (the ellipsis) pregnant with possibility.
FEATURED IMAGE: Engraving of Gutenberg inspecting one of the books he published. Gutenberg took the illuminated manuscripts of the European monks and made what had been a rare and privileged skill—reading—and turned it (eventually) into something that any man, woman, or child could learn and enjoy. It changed the world . . .