Thursday, July 23, 2009

A terrible book

I want to be absolutely clear that when I say terrible I am referring to the book’s manufacturing: the construction of the book. As for the words on the page, I haven’t read them yet.

If you go to amazon and search for Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees you will find a few results. The first to come up is the one I purchased. Printed by CreateSpace, which is, as best as I can tell from their website a POD/self-publishing subsidiary of amazon.

I have nothing against such presses but this does raise some questions, least of all how they acquired the rights to print the book. The cover has a zoomed in pixelated picture that looks to be an extreme close up of the cover art from a previous Del Ray mass market paper back and is without doubt a copyright violation of some sort. (As Del Ray is more than creditable, for three dollars a used copy of that edition is probably preferable to the Createspace edition.) When the book is opened there is no library of congress catalogue listing, nor copyright information of any sort. All that is said before the table of contents is the title, the author and, “First published in 1926,” which combine to make for a very poor title page. Perhaps public domain is in effect, but even so that does not explain the reproduction of the cover art--no matter how altered it may be--without permission or accreditation.

The paper is standard office stock, the binding is laughable. I think it would be apparent to the untrained eye that this book was made in someone’s basement. I have seen many and own a few self-published books. All of them were more professionally done than this. If you are a lover of books and enjoy creating your own library I have no doubt that my complaints will become your own should you purchase this edition. The alternatives are an edition by the now defunct BORGO PRESS, Cold Springs Press (which amazon reviewers have also bashed in terms of quality of book construction) and the apparent diamond-in-the-rough Wildside Press.

I do not own any books printed by Wildside but judging from their website and the authors they represent I think they are legitimate, though I would welcome any feedback from any who know. I searched for this book on amazon’s Canada site to seek alternatives after seeing what arrived in the mail and was fortunate enough to stumble across Wildside. For whatever reason, they do not appear on any page of the amazon US site. Sadly, they do not have a “look inside” option to check out the formating. Should you be interested in Lud-in-the-Mist, THIS, is the edition you should purchase. Without seeing it, I have full confidence it can't any worse than the competition and judging from the books they publish I have a feeling it will be infinitely better.

I don’t expect all the books I buy to posses the master craftsmanship of Random House’s Everyman’s Library, but I do expect a lot more than this for my hard earned money. Having only gleaned the first few pages I have no doubt that I will have better things to say concerning the content of the book than the quality of it’s construction and I look forward to saying those things shortly.

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