Re: RARA-AVIS: Reprinting the lost classics

From: Scott Owen (
Date: 01 Jun 2002

>>Mainstream publishers will always chose what they think will sell -
>quality has little to do with it. Not all the Jim Thompson books are
>masterpieces but almost all have been reprinted since the 1980's.
>Personally, I'm glad to have the material available for me to decide
>which are the good ones & which aren't). And what is junk to one reader
>may be a flawed masterpiece to another(again, see Thompson reprints). I
>agree you'd want to see the "good" books republished but I also feel
>that some authors' books are worth republishing even if they aren't all
>masterpieces - in the end there's only one way of finding out if a book
>is any good & that is to read it, which is rather problematic if the
>book isn't available to read.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind seeing an author's works reprinted in toto a la Thompson. I'm in hock to the rare book dealers enough as it is. I just think that publishers should start with the top drawer material. They should dig deeper into the barrel only after getting (and keeping) the best stuff in print. I think there's nothing worse than stacks of remaindered books to kill a publisher's interest in a reprint program.

I'm thinking specifically about my personal fave, Fredric Brown, a man who has been poorly served by the reprinters. True, some of his best books have been resurrected over the years, but several excellent titles(MADBALL and THE WENCH IS DEAD spring to mind) have been out of print since the '50s. Yet ROGUE IN SPACE, perhaps his worst ever book, has been reprinted at least once.

It just hurts.


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