Martin Edwards Enriching a Tradition
"That sounds kind of boastful," he says, "and that's really not me."
To learn who Marty Edwards is, you need to start at the beginning of the Edwards Brothers story. Thomas and Daniel Edwards, a pair of University of Michigan law students, began the practice of mimeographing and selling their own lecture notes in 1893, which they quickly found to be a profitable venture. The pair alternated running the business until finishing law school, at which point they handed the reins to their older brother, John J., or J.J., who grew the mimeographing business until his death in 1922.
The torch was then passed to his son, John William (Marty's father), who expanded the business further—traveling across Michigan, Indiana and Ohio—visiting general science professors, some who used their private printings of lecture notes as the basis for educational texts they hoped to sell to publishers.
Translating for Dollars
The Depression caused the company to go public, and J.W. spun off J.W. Edwards Publishers during the pre-World War II years. That business prospered during the war by re-publishing technical books and journals that were originally published in Germany and were not available in the United States.
Marty Edwards' exposure to ink on paper came at a very early age. Along with older brother Joe, Marty would often accompany his father into work on Saturdays. An employee would become their "supervisor" and the pair were given odd jobs to occupy their time.
"I can remember working there and I wasn't even 13 years old—probably a violation of child labor laws," he laughs. "I was paid about 10 cents an hour. The first time the supervisor handed me my first check, he said, 'What are you going to do with all that money?' The check was probably for a dollar.
"There were a lot of Saturday mornings where my brother and I were always getting in the way. At a young age, printing was already getting inculcated in my mind."