Re: RARA-AVIS: Reprinting the lost classics

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 02 Jun 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "Scott Owen" <> To: <> Sent: Sunday, June 02, 2002 4:22 AM Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Reprinting the lost classics

> >>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
> >may be a flawed masterpiece to another(again, see Thompson reprints).
> >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
> >masterpieces - in the end there's only one way of finding out if a
> >is any good & that is to read it, which is rather problematic if the
> >book isn't available to read.
> >
> Rene:
> 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.
> just think that publishers should start with the top drawer material.
> should dig deeper into the barrel only after getting (and keeping) the
> stuff in print. I think there's nothing worse than stacks of
> books to kill a publisher's interest in a reprint program.

In that case, I guess we'll have to agree to agree. Quite right, it's better to start with the best material. What gets frustrating is when that same material is rarely out of print, with overlapping printings, even, when other great stuff has remained untouched. When it comes down to it, nobody wants this stuff less available (with possible exception of rare book dealers). Obviously there are severe economic restrictions - I remember being overwhelmed by the number of Black Lizard titles released in the 80's & was steadily purchasing the books a year or two later when they were remaindered en masse. In that case, there were too many too soon - but what a glorious failed experiment! Those books have had a tremendous influence far beyond the meagre financial reward they reaped & were no doubt the impetus behind the tremendous upsurge of interest in Jim Thompson & a couple of other authors & noir in general. I doubt we'll ever see anything quite like the Black Lizard line again, unfortunately.

> I'm thinking specifically about my personal fave, Fredric Brown, a man
> has been poorly served by the reprinters. True, some of his best
books have
> been resurrected over the years, but several excellent titles(MADBALL
> THE WENCH IS DEAD spring to mind) have been out of print since the
> Yet ROGUE IN SPACE, perhaps his worst ever book, has been reprinted at
> once.
> It just hurts.
> --Scott
It would be great to see more Brown books revived. I don't know how they'd go but I know that many 2nd hand book dealers in this part of the world know him - I've been told his (mystery only - not the SF, as far as I can gather - you do see copies of them around) books sell as quickly as they hit the shelves. He's one of the authors that people are always looking for.Only thing is, I don't know how many people are involved in searching for Brown's books- it could be just half a dozen obsessives!


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