Odd Trend in Public Domain Editions of L.M. Montgomery Texts

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:

"Wake up, Rilla—it's war time!" A random and utterly unsuitable image for the cover of a recent cheap ebook reprint of <em>Rilla of Ingleside</em>.
“Wake up, Rilla—it’s war time!” A random and utterly unsuitable image for the cover of a recent cheap ebook reprint of Rilla of Ingleside.

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?

Cover Art for Four More Anne Reissues by Virago Modern Classics

Virago Press has just released the covers of four more Anne reissues that it will be publishing as part of its Virago Modern Classics imprint later this year: Anne of Windy Willows (published as Anne of Windy Poplars in North America), Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley. As I mentioned in January when I posted the covers of the previous Virago editions, the artwork for all these editions is by UK-based artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

Cover art for Anne of Windy Willows (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne's House of Dreams (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne of Ingleside (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Rainbow Valley (Virago Press, 2017)

These editions will be released in spring 2017 in the United Kingdom and in fall 2017 in North America.

Ads 11: Anne’s House of Dreams

Here are three ads for Anne’s House of Dreams, the first of L.M. Montgomery’s books to be published by the Frederick A. Stokes Company in New York (and by McClelland, Goodchild and Stewart in Toronto) after she left the firm of L.C. Page and Company.

Ad for Anne's House of Dreams, The Publisher's Weekly, 22 September 1917.
Ad for Anne’s House of Dreams, The Publisher’s Weekly, 22 September 1917.
NYTribune1917Sept8p5-AHDad
Ad for Anne’s House of Dreams, The New York Tribune, 8 September 1917.
Ad for Anne's House of Dreams, The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, 15 August 1917.
Ad for Anne’s House of Dreams, The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, 15 August 1917.

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in ReviewI seem to have dropped the ball on my promise, made in November, to post either an extract of a review or an ad every single day on this website until I received my first copy of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review. Since mid-December, I’ve been so busy with the end-of-year rush, with illness, with the holidays, and with some behind-the-scenes updates on this website (including lists of journal articles, book chapters, paratexts, dissertations/theses, and reviews) that I haven’t posted anything in several weeks.

But I’m pleased to let you know that my first author’s copy of Volume 3 arrived last week, with the remaining author’s copies getting to me Thursday afternoon. As I mentioned on my own blog last week, the fact that this multi-year project has finally come to an end is bittersweet, and it’s been nice to clear my desk, both literally and figuratively, as I start to ponder what it is I’d like to tackle next. I do hope that the materials included in all three volumes will prove useful and interesting to Montgomery’s diverse readership, and of course I’m always happy to hear from readers in terms of questions, responses, and alerts to items I missed.

For those of you who are in the Toronto area: on the evening of Tuesday, 27 January, I will be joining Laura M. Robinson and Melanie J. Fishbane for an event called “The  Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War” at the North York Central Library branch of the Toronto Public Library. I’ll be talking briefly about how Montgomery’s shifting vision of the war appeared in periodicals of the period, not only in terms of some of Montgomery’s essays and letters published prior to the writing of Rilla of Ingleside but also the ways in which all her war books—not only Rilla but also Rainbow Valley, Anne’s House of Dreams, and The Watchman and Other Poems—were reviewed in North American newspapers and magazines. It promises to be a terrific evening, so please join us if you can.

Montgomery Review 12: Anne’s House of Dreams

Cover art for Anne’s House of Dreams, published by McClelland, Goodchild and Stewart (Canada) and Frederick A. Stokes Company (USA) in 1917.

“The story is a genuine romance of matrimony, a household idyl, and there is in it humor, pathos and a rich humanity. It is a healthy, homely, unpretentious novel told in a simple, spontaneous style. In many respects it is the best thing Miss Montgomery has written.” —Rochester Post Express