Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 28th, 2006
Sometimes it causes me a little tribulation to announce the reprint of a new book, and this is one of those times. Not because of the contents of the book, not because of the original author, and not even because of the price. No, sometimes, I have feelings about seeing good books republished too quickly as paperbacks, by publishers sometimes known for their loose editing and less than classic packaging.
Hopefully, I will be mistaken about this one, but I won’t know until I see a copy to find out.
Any day now, Adventures Unlimited Press (AUP) is set to reprint (see cover image directly above) Ivan T. Sanderson’s 1961 classic Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, with a $20 list price, cheaper at some locations. Strangely, it seems to be getting a lot of promotion, already, via Asian booksellers.
Of course, I have my misgivings seeing my mentor’s book republished by AUP. I’m probably taking this all too personally. Sorry, I can’t help myself.
Publisher/writer/repackager David Hatcher Childress, as some reviewers have found, likes to take out-of-print books, and frequently adds an introduction by himself. He puts on a new cover on the old text to sell these reprints, and he’s done several via AUP. It’s all part of his form of American ingenuity and capitalism at work, and that’s fine. But with a little more care in editing and writing, his reprints could be much better.
Most of Childress’s books seem to be clearly out-of-print works by deceased authors. But in a few cases, Childress seems to have confused "out-of-print by a dead writer" with "copyright-free in the public domain."
Apparently, a few years ago, Childress discovered the late Ivan T. Sanderson’s treasure trove of out-of-print books. In the case of one of the first titles he reprinted, I think Childress made a mistake in publishing Invisible Residents, without the permission or even the knowledge of Sanderson’s widow. This book is not in the public domain, and when I pointed this out to him, he said he thought I was wrong. Childress casually told me he would just pay "their standard royalty" someday to Sanderson’s heirs. Well, he should know better. It doesn’t work that way. You don’t just publish someone’s book without their cooperation. I thought he’d talk to Sabina Sanderson. He didn’t, she says.
In the situation with Sanderson’s Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Childress is on more solid ground. This book is in public domain. Indeed, I mentioned this book three years ago to some publishers, thought it would benefit Ivan’s estate, but no one would reprint a 525-page book in a timely fashion, at an affordable price. Okay, congratulates to him. Childress beats the big guys to the punch.
Ivan T. Sanderson’s Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life has returned. I wish it was packaged differently. I wish it was a hardbound edition. At least, the text is now fully available again to a new generation of cryptozoologists.
However, I just got off the phone with Sanderson’s widow, and she confirmed that Childress didn’t even have the common courtesy to ask for her permission to reprint, let alone ask for the rights to republish Sanderson’s copyrighted books that remain within Ivan’s estate, her property.
Oh, well, my dreams don’t always come true for how elegantly books are reprinted or how smoothly such things develop. Some people will end up buying Childress’s reprint of the book. I do hope folks enjoy Sanderson’s classic text again.
Perhaps Sanderson’s widow will get part of the profit, someday. One thing is for sure. There’s a very upset Mrs. Sanderson out there.
Update, May 30, 2006: David Childress has contacted me, and said he would write Sabina Sanderson, to work out giving her royalties.