The Guardian recently announced the recipient and finalists in the 2012 Diagram prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. While the winner, Cooking with Poo, clearly won for its ability to provoke juvenile laughter, most of the other top contenders were humorous in a different way, namely, being specific to a level that seems almost absurd.
While I’m sure both Mr Andoh's Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge and Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World have audiences in the high dozens, the niche-ness of them is worthy of a couple of giggles and a headscratch.
When it comes to niche specificity, though, the Diagram prize has nothing on the self-publishing houses. In fact, if there’s one thing vanity presses are good for, it’s printing books that don’t have a large enough audience for traditional publishing.
Culled from the great bowels of online publishing catalogs, here’s a selection of ultra-specific titles aimed at the few rather than the many.
Action Karate Quilts by Kathleen Azeez
|A use for your family's old gi scraps, at long last.|
Just like your grandma used to sew herself, before she became the sensei of the adult daycare dojo. Instructions are included for using generic head designs or transferring your own photographs of heads for custom versions, so commemorative Ralph Macchio quilt, here I come.
Nail Pullers (With Patent Reference) by Raymond P. Fredrich
|For pulling nails, and not your leg.|
Collectors are a special breed, so it’s not really surprising that someone collects nail pullers. More surprising might be Fredrich’s mania for the subject, noting that handcrafted nails are such a big deal, “You might even burn your house down and pick up nails in the ashes.” (Keep an eye out for Fredrich’s second book, Pyromania (With Legal Reference).
Federal Prison & Federal Prison Camp: A Beginner’s Guidebook for First Time Inmates by Steve Vincent
|Includes pull-out maps and cafeteria ratings!|
You buy a travel guide before you go to Martha’s Vineyard, so it stands to reason you would buy this one before you embark on an embezzlement scheme. Beginners, schmeginners, though: Is the advanced level guidebook out yet?
Shoe Exotica & Poems, Volume I by Patrick Sart
|Shelve next to your foot-binding Haiku collection.|
If you’re a shoe fetishist who likes stream-of-consciousness poetry, you’ve just hit the jackpot with this collection that features original drawings of bizarre shoes with even stranger poetry. (Although, if you are, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t know. You probably have Sart on speed dial.)
How to Start Your Own African/African-American/Caribbean Products Store Online by The African-American Business Network
|This could only be more specific if it were called How to Start Your Own African/African-American/Caribbean Products Store Online, Louise.|
At last, a book that recognizes that the methods for marketing clay tagines and pigeon peas are vastly different from those used to sell bamboo steamers or Marmite. It’s just too bad that the three concepts were combined into one book, rather than exploring the inherent intricacies in three volumes.
Have you seen any weird self-published titles that are bizarre in their specificity? Do tell.