Saturday, November 26, 2005

Includes special guest review

Woke up really early in the morning and watched some of the new Dr Who DVDs with Mike and Maddy.

Maddy says: My name is Maddy. And Dr. Who was quite good. I liked it when the world blew up. Yes, quite. :-)

Disappointingly, she made no attempt to watch it from behind the sofa. I suppose she's just too old. And, at 4' 11", too tall.

Hi Neil

Did you know that the Ottakars limited edition of Anansi Boys is priced at �40? That's getting on for $70 in yank money.

As a UK based book collector I'm used to getting shafted on these so called "collector's editions". Normal practice is for the chain (usually Watersones or Ottakars) to charge an extra �10-15 for the service of binding in a signed page, removing the dustjacket and putting the book in a cardboard slipcase. I'm sort of a completist so usually I just grit my teeth and pay up.

The premium being charged for the limited version of Anansi Boys has given me pause this time though. Did you write an original poem on each of the specially bound in pages? Is some extra material included that is missing from the standard UK hardback? Perhaps you can shed some light on exactly why it is so expensive.

If, as I suspect, Ottakars are just being greedy then I wonder how you feel about being their accomplice in this little enterprise? After all, without your signature they wouldn't really have an exclusive product to profiteer on.


True. If getting a signed version cheaply is that important to you, you might want to see if you can still get any of the US Morrow version -- I signed 5,000 sheets for them which went out at no extra cost to anyone. They've got them for sale over at DreamHaven's site for the same cost as the usual edition for as long as supplies last (link is and it's only one to a person).

I've only seen the Ottakars signed edition of Anansi Boys briefly, when I arrived in the UK, but it looked lovely -- like some serious bookmaking was going on (not simply greedily "removing the dustjacket", you'll be pleased to hear) from a new embossed leathery cover down to the silvered edges of the pages. Given the extremely small print run I'm not surprised they're charging forty quid for it. I'll take your word that that's over the odds, but an search for "signed, limited books" had them running from around 40 pounds to well over a thousand pounds.

I'm afraid the author doesn't have much to do with pricing: these things are arranged between the publisher (who has the rights to the book) and the small-press publisher (Ottakars, or, in the US, Hill House) who license the rights to do their edition of the book from the publisher. The author can hope that the small press does the best possible job of bookmaking, but we don't get to set prices. We sign our piles of paper and we hope that most people will be happy.

Let me know what you think when you've had a chance to look at it.

Mr Gaiman:

...Do you know what kind of effort is involved in getting an out-of-print book back in print again? I think Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle was one of these recent reprints, but I'm not sure if J.K. Rowling had anything to do with its publication, or if she just wrote reviews for the book to help the book along.

A friend recently shared a book with me by Nicholas Stuart Gray called Over the Hills to Fabylon. First published in 1970(?), I think it's been out-of-print for a while and it's not easy finding affordable copies. I adore the book and I think it belongs on our shelves right next to our copies of The Last Unicorn (organized by favorites; alphabetization be damned.) It's utterly lovely and humorous and doesn't seem dated, so I think it should be more easily available. I realize one can always use the library, but I'm the frequently penniless sort who unwisely spends her last $25 - two days before payday - on a book or two. I'd like to buy multiple copies of Gray's Fabylon to give to the children of my friends and relatives.

Any thoughts on how one person can generate enough interest in a long forgotten book to convince publishers they should print the book again? What if one of your lovely books fell into obscurity? How would you want us to spearhead a rescue mission?

A plan that involves urban dwelling spelunking and magical kazoos would be especially welcome!

Audra Haskell

I don't honestly know. I've recently been talking to a publisher who approached me about doing some "Neil Gaiman Presents..." books, an idea I'm interested in mostly in order to get some favourites back into print. I've managed to get a few beloved books back into print in the last decade. It normally involves writing an introduction, or cornering an editor in a bar and buying them drinks and then pleading. I used to buy old Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition copies of Lud-In-The-Mist from second hand bookshops and give them to editors.

Nicholas Stuart Gray is one of those authors I loved as a boy who holds up even better on rereading as an adult. I'd never heard of Fabylon (and a brief check tells me that even ex-library copies are $75-$300) but he's the kind of author someone definitely ought to bring back into print. (I loved the short stories in "The Star Beast" and "Grimbold's Other World" myself.)


I read Good Omens and liked it. Now I am reading American Gods because Anansi Boys isn't out in paperback yet and I am cheap. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to hear that the way Shadow acts/thinks/feels when he's getting out of prison is amusingly similar to what it was like for me getting out of basic training and later being discharged from the US Army :D I would bet you don't get comments like this from 21-year-old females very often. Have a nice day!


I shall do my best.