Otto Penzler began his career as a University of Michigan alumnus. He worked as a copy boy at the Daily News in his 20’s, making $37/week. He has been collecting books since that time, and today owns roughly 58,000 first editions of mystery books, (many located in his private library, pictured above). Mr. Penzler owns one of the oldest and largest bookstores in Manhattan, The Mysterious Bookshop.
Of course, the interesting part is what comes in between those two points (not that 58,000 first editions aren’t interesting). Otto Penzler wrote “The Crime Scene” a weekly column for the New York Sun that he penned for 5 years. He published “The Armchair Detective” for 17 years, an Edgar-winning quarterly journal specializing in mystery and suspense fiction. He founded the Mysterious Press, which he sold at one point to Warner books and recently reacquired. Penzler created the entire publishing firms of Otto Penzler Books and the Armchair Detective Library and has imprints at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in United States and Atlantic books in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Penzler has won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1977 for the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, which he edited with Chris Steinbrunner. He was also awarded the prestigious Ellery Queen Award in 1994 by The Mystery Writers of America for his contributions in publishing. He was honored with its highest non-writing award, the Raven, in 2003, as well.
If you aren’t impressed, then you mustn’t be truly an English-major. (I would suggest letting your registrar know right away.)
Otto Penzler was featured in The New York Times last year for his amazing store, his collection, and the legacy that he continues to leave for generations to come.