Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nothing New Here!

It is often interesting how we all join up dots differently and that we know what we know but all too often don’t know what we don know. Today we were alerted to a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times ‘Reprints are King in Parts of the Book World.’

The report questioned, ‘whether the increasing number of reprints is because of reader dissatisfaction with contemporary literature or the flowering of an archivist, curatorial instinct, they are certainly part of the decentralization of literary culture.’ And also reported that, ‘Reprints may be how new novels that surely deserve larger audiences may finally find the readership they should have had the first time around..’

The lack of understanding of reprints, repackaging, classics, public domain works was clear.

There are those publishers that specialise in bringing back books into print that for whatever reason deserve to be available. Some may be literary classics, other erotica, or mystery, or romance, or war and military. The majority are public domain but others are published under licence and some are publishing orphans that are adopted. This is nothing new its been around as long as many can remember it has merely become easier to do.

Recent articles in the Bookseller have referenced a new Erotica list of Victorian titles, goulish tales both by Penguin and Wordsworth and Faber’s modern classics on demand and specialist lists by the likes of Persephone. Penguin’s value added digital extras also present a new twist and others have re-jacketed the Austin classics to look like chit lit! The list of publishers is significant and includes; Everyman, OUP, Penguin, Wordsworth, B&N, CRW, Studio, and many many more. But reprinting is not new neither is it a adverse reaction to modern literature. It is however interesting to see the variance in list price for what is often the same free text.

The new digital world makes it easier to find titles, digitally capture them and bring them back both digitally and imprint. The primary skill lies in the selection and understanding the potential winners. The next is to understand what needs to be done to represent and repackage them. The largest risk it that some may make a land grab and adopt orphans that are still in copyright because they can.

The consumer rarely picks up a book and looks at the copyright page and says, ‘I can’t read this its not new!’

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