#89: So, here’s the plan…

Unavailable classics

Last week I put up this post about the incomprehensibility of the unavailability of a lot of classic detective fiction.  In that week it has already become the second-most viewed post on this blog, and has attracted more comments than any other post to date for which I thank you – there’s a lot of very calm, reasoned, and intelligent discussion there which has helped me get a sense of the situation.  Now, if I see a problem that I might be able to fix, I like to have a go, and so I’ll admit that there was an element of research behind that post because I have a plan.

I am going to try to acquire the rights for a classic GAD novel and get it republished.

This will fulfil two aims.  Firstly, and at the very least, it will hopefully give me some practical experience of an aspect of book publishing that I know nothing about – possibly I’m missing the point and it’s actually insanely hard and complex (which I fear may be the case…).  Should that happen, fine, at least I’ll understand what I’m up against and will have even more patience for the gradual emergence of a lot of this work.  Secondly, it will hopefully make available to those of us who wish to read it another book from this era that we are able to enjoy without shelling out hilarious amounts of money for.  Which, y’know, is always a bonus.

At this stage I don’t know quite how much to say about it – I have the book in mind, somewhere between the Big Name Classic that will possibly be the subject of competition and the Obscure One With Great Reputation that me and about three of you would be delighted with and everyone else would ignore – but I think I’m just going to promise nebulous things and then reveal more details as and when and if they occur.  I mention it now, in deliberately oblique terms, so that I have at least said it out loud and so don’t have the option if shying away from it.

I shall hopefully come up with a snappy name for this undertaking in due course, too, so that, y’know, I can refer to it in a more catchy way.

So, well, that is all for now.  Watch this space…

Oh, and any advice gratefully received, of course.  I mean, I have literally no idea what I’m doing or even if there’s an accepted way to go about it, before I give you too much of an Indiana Jones rugged-man-strutting-into-the-wild vibe.

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40 thoughts on “#89: So, here’s the plan…

  1. Good luck matey 🙂 I think it will definitely depend on the author you pick – some are a lot easier than others – According to Curtis Evans, the Rhode/Burton and Patrick Quentin estates can be quite difficult, for whatever reason. Curtis would be a good person to talk to, as would maybe be the likes of Rupert Heath (Dean Street), Douglas Greene (Crippen & Landru) and Greg Shepard of Stark House Press. If all else fails, I can probably make some introductions if you’d like to ping me (you have my email) …

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    • Thanks, Sergio – I’m trying to thread the needle between awareness and obscurity, and if I don’t try then I’ll always wonder wat might have been. Thanks for the names, too – I might have toi fall back on the expertise of others, but for the time being I’m going to blunder around like a horror movie victim and see if the noise I makes attracts enough attention. Hmmm, except in that analogy the attention I get kills me…okay, let me rethink this…

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  2. Because I’m a huge fan of E.C.R. Lorac and her Inspector MacDonald series, I’m going to toss her name into the pot as a potential reprint. I also recommend her because the folks at Ramble House managed tp reprint four of her novels so there might be a source of practical advice as well.

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    • I shall remain poker-faced on all names thrown at me, Chuck, but who knows – this could be the start of something big (spoiler: it probably isn’t)!

      If you’re a fan of Lorac on the back of the Ramble House reprints, however, do check out their other classic crimes authors if you’ve not yet, especially Hake Talbot, Max Afford, Walter S. Masterman, and – my personal favourites – Norman Berrow and Rupert Penny. RH have done absolutely brilliant work bringing back a lot of neglected stuff; if I can add to that in any way, it would be a dream come true.

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        • Yeah, I’ve never seen them in a bookshop, but I can believe they’d certainly catch the eye…!

          What I honestly think is most impressive is how Gavin L. O’Keefe hasn’t necessarily stuck to a standard template for every single cover like a lot of publishers do (see the recent Pushkin Press books, for instance, or even The Murder Room covers which change only the author name, title, and quote), but there is still a very distinct ‘Ramble House book’ look. Having the same guy do, like, all the covers inevtiably contributes to this, but there’s also something more to it – they’re brilliantly designed, either way.

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        • And yet, they’re only available on-line! The same goes for the Halter titles and all the books from Locked Room International, the covers of which are also amazing.

          That annoys me! Why are there five full shelves of those awful cozy mysteries (Mayhem With Waffles) at Barnes and Noble, but they cannot carry any of the books that we all discuss??? This is one of the many (if minor) reasons that so many of us are abandoning bookstores for the internet! And the books aren’t in libraries either! My community has a terrific library system, but only one branch out of perhaps ten carries classic titles. The major resource for book learning and for sharing one’s love of books doesn’t carry the titles we crave! Another blow to reading and to reading communities.

          In other words, JJ, if you succeed in your endeavor, I will buy whatever book you choose to publish both as a chance to read something I have not yet read (I hope!) and as a support to you and to this infinitesimal yet international community of GAD lovers that seems to have formed here. I expect full reading discussions and a chance for us all to take a GAD cruise together! Wouldn’t that be fun?

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        • If you want a cruise included in the price of the book, it will probably put the cost up a bit. Just sayin’.

          Also, a bunch of GAD enthusiasts isolated on a boat? Someone will probably get themselves bloody murdered…

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        • Whatever we do I’m telin’ ya someone will die, guaranteed. And with this comment I just made myself the Most Likely Murderer. Which means I can’t be the killer.

          Or does it…?

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  3. When the night owl hoots on the chestnut bough, and the strangled cry emerges from the locked attic room in the empty manse – then folly will turn to fame, as the accumulated turning of pages marks the neophyte’s sweet smell of success.

    Hey, I can be nebulous too, buddy! Good luck!

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    • I appreciate your faith in me, Guy, that you’re already asking about formats…! However, given the rise and consequent ease of e-publishing that’s probably the safest way to go. But, y’know, it also seems hilariously far off at this stage.

      Certainly at all stages my focus is going to be on making this an affordable undetaking once/if I’m able to get a book out of it. If that can’t be achieved, then the appeal of what I’m aiming to do wears off quite quickly.

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    • Thanks for the kind words and the offer. I have a horrible feeling I may crash and burn, but at least I’ll go down fighting! Maybe I could use Bodies form the Library to brush up on these “networking skills” that I understand every other member of the human race apears to have Is there an app for them or something?

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  4. First of all, I wish you all the luck in the world and sincerely hope this will turn out to be a successful experiment, which is slightly motivated by selfish reasons. Secondly, I have to pester you about the book/writer you have in mind. You can’t just drop nebulous hints and not expect one of us to take a shop at doing Sherlock Holmes’ mind reading trick.

    The name of the mystery writer whose books you have in mind is Theodore Roscoe. If I’m right: it was a mere child’s play of deduction. If I’m wrong: I’m still right, because you should’ve considered Roscoe for this project. 😉

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    • Not only will we be meeting up, we’ll come away with nicknames for everyone and loads of jokes that will only be funny if you’d been there…it’s going to be like Clueless, just with GAD novels.

      And, yes, my cultural touchstones need updating….

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  5. Pingback: #119: An Undertaking – Ye Olde Book of Locked Room Conundrums | The Invisible Event

  6. Pingback: #218: Murder on the Way! (1935) and I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe Are Being Republished by Bold Venture Press… | The Invisible Event

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