Those of you who follow this site on social media (specifically on Facebook or on Pinterest) have a sense already of how fascinated I’ve become with a phenomenon that has involved not only Montgomery but also any other still-popular author whose work is in the public domain: cheap reprint editions, either in print or in ebook form. Sometimes it seems as though new cheap editions of Montgomery’s books become available on Amazon every day, many of them offering numerous titles for 99 cents, most of them with cover art that is completely random and, as such, entirely unsuitable, with this recent cover of an edition of Rilla of Ingleside as just one example:
In other cases, creators of these cheap ebooks take art from existing editions, which could mislead readers about what edition they are buying. A couple of months ago, one such edition of Rilla of Ingleside appeared with the cover art from the restored and annotated edition that Andrea McKenzie and I edited for Penguin Canada in 2010. Because most of the editions do not identify any creators or publishers and simply have the line “Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC,” it is impossible for consumers to know who is behind these editions. Thankfully, though, when we reported this edition to Amazon, it was soon taken down all its platforms.
But now a new twist has occurred, evident in the following screen caps taken yesterday:
While it is true that these books are in the public domain and that anyone anywhere can reprint them or make ebook versions of them, these editions are most definitely not Norton Critical Editions or part of the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics series (which is now called Penguin Modern Classics) or the Oxford World’s Classics series. These are all existing covers, although the cover for The Story Girl is actually from one of eight abridgements done for Zonderkids over a decade ago. Although one would have to buy these Kindle editions to assess the extent that they are “annotated,” my sense is that, if these editions were sufficiently annotated for publication by Norton, Penguin, or Oxford, they would not be retailing for $3.73. Not to mention that the editor of a critical or annotated edition is always identified, since it is that editor’s expertise in the subject matter that is of paramount importance.
And then, of course, is this recent ebook, which appears to be an L.M. Montgomery title no one has ever heard of: Bev’s Childhood. It is actually The Story Girl.
So what do you make of this new trend? What should be most important in terms of the book market?
This ad for Anne of the Island appeared in the Baltimore Sun in July 1915 as well as in several other dailies across the USA. Although starting with this book Montgomery’s literary output was listed as “The Four Avonlea Books” opposite the main title page (with Chronicles of Avonlea included between Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island), this ad omits Chronicles and refers to Anne of the Island as “completing the ‘ANNE’ trilogy.” This marketing strategy would continue with the publication of Further Chronicles of Avonlea in 1920 (at which point the series was renamed “The Five Avonlea Books”), even though by then Montgomery had published two more Anne books set in another PEI locale with a competing publisher (Anne’s House of Dreams and Rainbow Valley, with Rilla of Ingleside following in 1921).
Puffin Classics will reissue Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island on 6 August 2009 on the U.K. (available in Canada on 24 November 2009), joining their reissue last year of Anne of Green Gables with an introduction by Lauren Child. As you can see from the covers above, the authors of the introductions to the second and third books are to be confirmed, although Amazon suggests that Budge Wilson has written the introduction to Anne of Avonlea. I’ll let you know once I hear anything more.
In anticipation of the CTV broadcast of Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (an exact date has not yet been released), Sullivan Entertainment will release six books in September and October. A novelization of the new movie, written by Kevin Sullivan, will be published by Key Porter Books on 1 October (Amazon.ca listing here). Also on that day, they are publishing through Davenport Press reissues of Montgomery’s novels Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island; an audio CD of Anne of Green Gables, read by Kevin Sullivan; and a new novelization of their first Anne of Green Gables miniseries.
Sullivan Entertainment has also released new trailers of the New Beginning movie, both of which imply that Anne wasn’t really an orphan after all. View them at their official website.