Larry McMurtry’s New Myth of the Old West

(Reblog of ALEXANDRA ALTER’s article for wsj.com)

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING BOOKS!

“Art of various kinds is often expensive, and filmmaking especially so. Thousands of gifted filmmakers, young and old, have waited hat in hand at the studio gates, only to be turned away with nothing. That’s why Kickstarter and like organizations—which secure funding through donations from people with an interest in art-to-be—are a healthy and adventurous way to go. Let the studios eat cake, as a famous lady once said.” — Larry McMurtry

Thanks to you and the KICKSTARTER community, we have reached our STRETCH GOAL of $12,000 and are now in the position to finish production on BOOKS: A DOCUMENTARY!

Our journey is just beginning and we would LOVE for you to STAY INVOLVED!  Please LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and SUBSCRIBE to our Blog for all the latest news and updates.

If you missed us here on Kickstarter, you can check out our website BooksMovie.org, for all the details on pre-ordering the film, purchasing merchandise, future screenings etc…

We are thrilled and overwhelmed by all of your support throughout these past two campaigns and sincerely THANK YOU for believing in BOOKS.  We can’t wait to save you a seat at the theatre.

— Mathew & Sara

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Larry McMurtry: May the Books Flourish!

Larry wrote a piece for The Daily Beast today and we have it here for you… Enjoy!

“For writer Larry McMurtry, auctioning off part of his vast book collection was bittersweet, but they are off on a new adventure in the hands of new readers. He writes to urge readers to support a film on Kickstarter documenting this remarkable sale.”

Art of various kinds is often expensive, and filmmaking especially so. Thousands of gifted filmmakers, young and old, have waited hat in hand at the studio gates, only to be turned away with nothing.

That’s why Kickstarter and like organizations—which secure funding through donations from people with an interest in art-to-be—are a healthy and adventurous way to go. Let the studios eat cake, as a famous lady once said.

Writing prose, on the other hand, is a solitary endeavor (unless one has a fine writing partner, as do I). And as such, it’s not very expensive. Paper, a typewriter, and a place to write is all I needed; that is, until I was given a laptop computer.

I came to the world of computers at least 20 years late, thus missing whole generations of pods, tablets, and the like, which is too bad. Diana Ossana, my writing partner and close friend, purchased a MacBook for me recently, at my request. I let it sit for six months and then made a cautious approach to the keyboard, as one might approach a wary woman. I respect it greatly, and though I work at it every day, we are not yet on familiar terms. But maybe, if time allows, I’ll improve.

At present, the fledgling artistic project nearest to my heart is a worthy one called “BOOKS, A Documentary,” a film about my own passion for books, a passion that led me to create a book town in my home place of Archer City, Texas.

At its peak, my book town harbored between 500,000 and 600,000 volumes, not counting my own 28,000 volume personal library. I love my books, all of them. Holding them in my hands, leafing through the pages, is a comfort to me. But this is a lot of books: my son and grandson might not be so inclined as to simply sit and appreciate their presence.

So, I held an auction in Archer City over three scorching summer days in August 2012 to reduce the burden of books that might be left to my heirs, should I depart before my inventory does. I managed, during said auction, to launch two-thirds of said inventory back out into the world, all taking up residence with new and enthusiastic owners. The adventures of those books will be documented, should the smart young filmmakers have their way.

It’s been a bittersweet experience for me, parting with my beloved stock, but they’ve been given a second life, on bookshelves and in storefronts all across America.

The filmmakers are my goddaughter Sara Ossana and her husband Mathew Provost. May they–and the books–flourish! — Larry McMurtry

Support Books by becoming a backer –http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/studioseven7films/books-a-documentary-take-2

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Screening Room: ‘Books: A Documentary’

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Chris Barsanti

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This is the killer Kickstarter pitch for a new proposed film project with the can’t-go-wrong title of Books: A Documentary:

This past August over 300,000 antiquarian books from Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up were sold at auction: This is the story of those Books.

Color us intrigued.

For those not already in awe of the man, Lonesome Dove and Brokeback Mountain author McMurtry also owns one of the nation’s great used-book emporiums. He told the tale of last fall’s great blowout sale at the New York Review of Books.

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According to Publishers Weekly, the filmmakers (husband-and-wife Sara Ossana and Mathew Provost) have already shot about half of the doc and need $50,000 to finish it up. Ossana notes that the film, which uses McMurtry’s sale to explore the modern book landscape, might be expected to be a downbeat tale about an industry and way of life in decline:

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The Last Book Scout…

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The world of the book scout is a changing landscape.  The very technology that seemingly threatens to submerge it has recently switched polarity and infused it with an unexpected resurgence.  The renaissance may be short lived, as the overall trend has shown book scouting to have gone from a popular pastime to an obscure practice.  What was once a busy profession abounding with hordes of enthusiasts, has turned into an archaic vocation kept alive by a handful of skilled connoisseurs.  Recently however, they have been joined by an influx of pickers armed with digital scanners, smart phones and online book selling savvy.

An old school book scout would scour classified ads for estate sales, garage sales, library sales and yard sales, paying particular attention to how they each were worded.  He, or she was wary of ads using the word “treasures” which translated to “junk” and kept a sharp eye out for buzz phrases like “English grad student moving” or “Philosophy professor passed away” which could have spelled pay dirt.  Armed with a vast knowledge of books from a lifetime of reading and a finely tuned intuition for locating quality print, they set out for these sales.  The goal: to unearth gems among the rubble, to buy them cheap and then sell them for profit.

One such man is none other than author Larry McMurtry, who explains having embarked on a career as a novelist in order to support his book buying habit.  He is the central figure in the upcoming indie film by Studio Seven7 Films called Books: A Documentary.  The film by Sara Ossana and myself tells the story of the three hundred thousand plus, of Larry McMurtry’s antiquated acquisitions that were auctioned off in August of 2012.  The event, which lasted just two days, was aptly named The Last Book Sale.  This historic occasion marks the culmination of forty years of Larry’s work as a book scout, and two thirds of what was amassed, being released back out into the world.

The auction no doubt drew book scouts cut from the same cloth as the proprietor of the four Booked Up storefronts in Archer City, Texas.  However, there was also a new breed of book buyer lurking about among the paperbacks and first editions.  The 21st century literary curator still combs through the classifieds for listings of book sales, but they rely more on technical gadgetry than upon applicable knowledge to cull profits from the piles of pages.  They use a handheld electronic scanner to weed through many volumes in one day, looking for titles that can be sold for profit.  Their scanner runs a book’s UPC code across a snapshot of the Amazon catalog.  The software then calculates the book’s worth.  Books with a high value are bought if a low price can be arranged and then re-sold online.  Many rare books are pre-UPC, where scanning a code is not an option.  In this case, they then pull out a smart-phone, loaded with latest apps and booked marked websites, and with a few clicks, now has all the information needed.

Similar to the world of baseball, an old-school scout would simply have taken the findings, cross referenced with years of gut instinct and stuffed notebooks, to bookstores or private collectors they had built relationships with over the years.  The new school scout harnesses the power of the internet, which although impersonal, has not necessarily cheapened the trade.  Online book reselling is highly competitive because there is money to be made.  This current model is a recent improvement on what was being done just a few years ago.  Before electronic scanners, new school book scouts had to use their cell phones to call friends or partners who were waiting at computers to look up titles that may have been valuable.  This resurgence in the popularity of old books is a refreshing development.  Perhaps the digital world will not yet fully render the analog world of information obsolete.

However, this begs the question: what improvements on the current strategy might the book scout of tomorrow employ?  Perhaps tomorrow’s book scout will find a title, scan it and take a picture of it all at once.  They could then post it online, find a buyer and collect the money digitally before ever paying for it and leaving the store.  Perhaps when teleportation is an everyday practice the process will go one step further and the scout will beam the book over to the buyer right then and there.  Sounds like a plot to a futuristic novel…

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Sugar Honey Iced Tea

What we’re listening to…

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With summer upon us, most Rhode Islanders take visiting family and friends to sun-bathed beaches, pick-your-own strawberry fields, and for meals at their favorite clam shacks.  Most will enjoy a refreshing cup of Dels frozen lemonade, and a few very lucky ones will also sip some Sugar Honey Iced Tea. The organically mixed harmonies and unique songwriting style of our featured band, will usher you well into those late summer nights.

Winners of “Best New Act” in Providence’s Motif Magazine, The Sugar Honey Iced Tea, comprised of Ana Mallozzi, Kate Jones, Laila Aukee, Emily Shaw, came into being the fall of 2010.  We’re in love with “Middle Man” and know you will be, too.  Mixing perfect harmonies and solo vocals popularized in bluegrass, their quirky charismatic quality will leave you hungry for more!  Check out Kate and the gang at reverbnation.com/thesugarhoneyicedtea

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 Don’t forget to share your favorite songs of the summer on our Facebook Page or on Twitter using the hashtag #SupportBooks.

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“Books: A Documentary” Kickstarter Campaign Launch

Hello world,

Our first Kickstarter Campaign has launched with the goal of raising funds to finish “Books: A Documentary”.  By backing our project you’re telling the world that you believe in us and our film.  We know that you all have influence and when you share something, people pay attention.  Not only that, you can receive some amazing rewards.  So please, take a few seconds to take a peek at our Kickstarter Page and use this link http://kck.st/13pQtEO to spread the Book love.  Early Christmas shopping anyone..?

Thank you ~ Mathew, Sara and the entire “Books: A Documentary” team.

Books

This past August over 300,000 antiquarian books from Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up were sold at auction:  This is the story of those books.

With a timeless legacy of 32 novels and 14 non-fiction books to Larry McMurtry’s credit, it is his avocation as a rare book scout, dealer and connoisseur that “Books: A Documentary” explores.  By recounting Mr. McMurtry’s self-proclaimed love affair with books, beginning over forty years ago when he opened the first Booked Up storefront in Washington, D.C., we tell the compelling story of the American antiquarian book trade: its past, present and future.

Visit “Books: A Documentary”

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5 Books every American should read…

In celebration of Independence Day, we asked Larry if he would give us a list of the 5 books he thinks every American should read, here is what he said:

One of the fun things to do in a well-stocked bookshop such as the one shown in this lovely, haunting documentary is to create Best Book Lists.  I was working on a history of these harmless exercises for Barbara Epstein, a great woman of letters and editor for The New York Review of Books, when she passed away.

Here’s a sampler of five great books every American should, at the very least, hold in their hand and browse:

“The Journals of Lewis and Clark,” by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark – the journey Lewis and Clark made across North America in 1806 helped secure for us much of the continent. It is also a robust work of literature.

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“Awakenings,” by Oliver Sacks – a tragic account of those victims of the l9l8 Spanish flu epidemic who didn’t die, but instead slept their lives away.

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“Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain – the book Hemingway said all American literature derives from; he was far from wrong.

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“The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway – the novel that set a new high standard for American prose.

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“V,” by Thomas Pynchon – the great book of the Seventies generation.

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—Larry McMurtry

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