Tuesday 8 April 2008

Overseas editions

Maxim Jakubowski has kindly presented me with both the British and American editions of his latest Best British Mysteries anthology, in which my story ‘The Bookbinder’s Apprentice’ appears.

I appreciate receiving both editions, because I like to have a copy of every edition of my publications – yet sometimes it’s surprisingly difficult to track down all the different editions of one’s books (or anthologies in which one’s stories appear.)

Two rather odd stories illustrate the point. One day, a few years back, I was browsing through an American bookseller’s catalogue. To my amazement I saw that one of the books for sale was a 3-in-1 omnibus, featuring my novel Eve of Destruction, and two books by other authors. Nobody had ever told me this edition existed. It turned out that the (very respectable) American publishers, who had published Eve of Destruction some time earlier, had sold the rights to the omnibus publisher - as they were entitled to do - but hadn’t bothered to tell me. The omnibus publisher had gone out of business (I hope not because of Eve of Destruction) and I couldn’t obtain a copy of the omnibus edition from them. So in the end, I bought the book from the bookseller.

Not long afterwards, I wrote a true crime book for a packager. Packagers produce illustrated books, mainly for the US market. Any other sales are a bonus. This book was a large glossy paperback called Urge to Kill, and an Australian edition soon appeared, identical except that it was called Motive to Murder. One day, shopping in Liverpool, I wandered into W.H.Smith. I saw a true crime hardback called Catching Killers. In my innocence, I thought it looked interesting, so I had a look at it. I soon realised I was reading an edition of my own book that I never knew existed. A weird feeliing. On this occasion, though, the publishers were still very much in existence, and they did supply a copy when asked to do so.

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