LHLW4: The Outtakes
by Bill Wolf
If you know your hood ornaments you might deduce from the cover photo that it was taken through the windshield of a Rolls-Royce. Just so, and quite a special Rolls-Royce this is, a one-off car ordered new by an important customer and these days looked after by an important collector.
To decipher the title you need to be a bit of a Rolls-Royce geek—and/or have the right books. LHLW4 represents the car’s chassis number, that all-important, unique identifier that tells the cognoscenti that this is a lefthand-drive long wheelbase 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, the model that represents the last of the truly bespoke postwar coachbuilt cars, in this case a 7-passenger limousine by James Young.
Outtakes implies that these are photos left on the cutting room floor. Often, usually, these are perfectly fine photos, they just didn’t get selected for whatever their intended purpose was. In this case that was a magazine; strictly speaking a journal (a fine but important distinction), namely the publication of record for all things Rolls-Royce (and Bentley) in these United States. Befitting a journal, it ran an in-depth feature article on this car, turning over every rock, dissecting every snippet of recorded information, and reconstructing that which was missing or ambiguous. For a writer, even an editor and certainly the car’s owner it is never pleasant to leave perfectly nice material on the table so, here, in a roundabout way, you have the reason for this book: it enters into the record a few more morsels.
This being a privately published book for private consumption means it would, ordinarily, not be reviewed here because, for all practical reasons it is Unobtainium (more on which later). However, in this age of self-publishing we often find ourselves bemoaning the abysmal quality of such work, whether it’s the concept, the writing, the proofreading, or the execution in terms of paper, binding, printing etc. On all these counts, except for writing because there isn’t any, this book demonstrates that quite lofty goals are achievable—with the right mindset and the right tools.
This is an iPhoto book, photographed with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, laid out on a home computer, with choices for background color and fonts etc. The final file is transmitted to Apple which returns a fully fleshed-out book, in this case even with a dust cover and in a custom-sized cellophane pouch, by mail, to you or dropshipped to a different recipient. For not much money: this 22-page book came to $37.96 including shipping and tax!
The beauty of a self-published on-demand book is that the author could produce more, also expand or even customize the contents, spring for a leather cover. Meaning? If you ask nice, he might make one just for you! To broaden its appeal to more than just the few Rolls-Royce insiders who were given one of the handful of books extant, a future version could include the manuscript that was published already by the journal, thus making it a proper book with a proper purpose in the world.
Wolf is on the SpeedReaders team of reviewers where he mostly tends to the “general culture” genres, has published a novel, and can often be spotted in the wild in NYC where most of these photos were taken.
Copyright 2015, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).