Bettmann: The Picture Man

Bettmann: The Picture Man

by Otto Ludwig Bettmann

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For half a century art directors, picture editors, ad execs and publishers have found the Bettmann Archive a source for portraits and unusual illustrations, often historical, on almost any subject, from apple-bobbing to zebra-training. In this appealing memoir (abundantly illustrated with holdings from the Archive), its founder recalls his childhood in Leipzig, Germany's book-trade center, where he was born in 1903. His father, an orthopedic surgeon and an ardent bibliophile, instilled in him a devotion to books, particularly those finely designed and illustrated. The author wrote a doctoral dissertation on literary piracy in the 18th century, supplemented his Ph.D. with a degree in library science and became a curator, all the while developing a carefully indexed picture file. When he fled Nazi Germany in 1935, he painstakingly built up his file into the now-famous picture agency in New York City, a process he recalls with an attractive mix of pride and self-deprecating humor. His experiences with major publishing figures, among them Harry Scherman, Van Wyck Brooks and Harry Abrams, will especially interest those in the trade. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Bettmann, who describes himself as ``a picture man by profession but a word man by inclination,'' arrived here in 1935, having fled the Nazis with a suitcase full of picture files. Here he tells the story of his setting up and building a commercial picture archive in New York City that now numbers over 12 million items and has a staff of 60. With a raconteur's charm and wit, he lays out his early life and education, beginnings in the business, and subsequent retirement to Florida as adjunct professor of history at Florida Atlantic University. While Bettmann made a fortune out of people's love of illustrations, he was also a bookman, pianist, lover of Bach, inveterate walker, and devoted grandfather (he includes some snapshots), and his passions come through in this work. This book complements other titles by Bettmann, which include Bettmann Archive Picture History of the World ( LJ 11/15/78), The Good Old Days ( LJ 3/15/75), and The Bettmann Portable Archive ( LJ 1/15/67; 1992. rev. ed.). Informed readers will appreciate this autobiography, which, as one might expect, is amply illustrated with Bettmann Archives images.-- Kathleen Collins, New York Transit Museum Archives, Brooklyn

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University Press of Florida
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8.76(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.72(d)

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