As a niche publisher with no corporate masters having to make stockholders happy, we have great freedom to choose the projects that we love…for whatever reason we love them.
We simply have ourselves to please…and hope for profits to come.
On the other hand, to make a profit we will never turn out a project that looks bad, no matter what we believe its market strength may be or whose name is attached to it.
So when DJ Hall of Famer Alan Ray White (Rock Around The Block) told us of his good friend’s book — that he could not explain because he didn’t understand it — well, we said we’d have a conversation and see if the book was for us. Alan called Len and, after a while, a few select pieces were sent to us for review.
Barry had a business manager who had not been successful in placing the book with any other publisher. Len really thought the material was good.
So here we are, reviewing these pieces. Now, how it works with our founder is this: She reads. Then she waits to see what appears in her mind, the visual of what the book should look like.
Upon reading just eight selections, Angela K. Durden knew this book had to be highly visual. So, she called “Lenny”, telling him she really liked what she was reading but knew it needed a particular design mindset: éclectique jene sais quoi.
After a long conversation lasting at least ninety minutes, Angela said, “Lenny, what I’d like to do is design a few of these pieces and send to you for a lookey-loo. Then we can talk about whether this suits you.” Len said, “Sounds good to me. But listen to me and listen good: You do what you think works. Do not second guess yourself on this. Do not ask ‘Will Lenny like it?’ Just do what you think is best. Promise me you’ll do that.”
So Durden promised him, designed a few pages, printed them out in color, and sent the small packet to Len who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
When Len Barry got the packet, he was amazed and called Angela, saying, “How did you read my mind?”
From that meeting of the minds came the rest of the book. It was a wonderful year, one we certainly will never forget.
Len Barry was planning a lot of PR and marketing to be built around public appearances in Philly bookstores and music stores. We were all very excited.
Then in mid-August 2020, Len called Angela with news. He was not so feeling well. Doctors didn’t exactly know what was wrong. Tests and such and he’d keep us apprised.
He let us know that he had cancer of the bone marrow. No cure was available that he could afford or that insurance would cover.
We pushed up the publishing date, then sent Lenny a prepublication proof. He was in the hospital when it arrived and didn’t get to see it until he came back home. He opened the box and promptly jumped over the moon.
He called Angela. She heard the tears of happiness in his voice. He couldn’t find the words to describe the beauty of his words in such a setting. He managed to say, “Never in my life could I have imagined something so wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you!”
Angela said, “I love you, too, Lenny.” She hung up and cried because she didn’t have long to enjoy such a beautiful mind.
But before we could get the final blurbs, and just two weeks later, on November 5, 2020, Len Barry passed away.
Blue Room Books produced 12 commemorative and numbered hardbound copies of the book (printed and bound at Booklogix in Alpharetta, Georgia) to send to his children, his beloved ex-wife, and a few select others, then made it available on Amazon.com in softcover edition.
This is another story of the publishing world: Promotional tours cannot be done when the author is dead. So, after a little over a year of hard work, what marketplace advantage we had is gone like an early morning mist when the sun fully rises.
But we will keep on plugging away because his book — performance art in print — is timeless.