One downside of the lower cost of publishing that computer technology has made possible is the proliferation of sloppy publishing houses. Now don’t get me wrong – the benefits definitely outweigh the costs. But the costs are real, and I’m entitled to gripe about them. Kessinger Reprints comes to mind – their productions range from the good (Isabel Paterson’s Never Ask the End, a perfectly fine facsimile edition) to the bad (Jules Verne’s Children of Captain Grant, filled with scanning errors) to the ugly (Lysander Spooner’s Vices Are Not Crimes, which includes the footnote markers but omits all the actual footnotes, in addition to mangling the subtitle).
But what I’m griping about today is the Quiet Vision Press edition of George MacDonald’s fantasy classic The Princess and the Goblin.
The text itself is pretty much okay – just a few typos (mostly capitalisation and hyphenation errors). But …
First, on the back of the book it says:
The Princess Irene has been kidnapped by Goblins. And it is up to an unlikely hero, Curdie the Miner Boy, to save the day.
It’s admittedly true that throughout the book the reader is continually led to expect that Irene will be kidnapped by the goblins and that Curdie will have to rescue her. But it never happens; MacDonald is too clever a writer to be that predictable. Instead it’s Curdie who gets kidnapped, and it’s Irene who has to rescue him. So, strike one.
Next, the back of the book continues:
An amazing tale from one of the founders of modern fantasy, George MacDonald. Including illustrations from a late 1900th century edition.
Wow, that’s really old. Or else from far in the future – one or the other. Strike two.
Finally, on the first page of the book there’s a place for the owner to write his or her name, and here, in fancy Gothic font, we see printed:
This Books Belongs To ____________________
And then, to add insult to injury (or perhaps injury to insult – or at least threat to incompetence), the copyright page sternly informs us that “No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted,” blah blah blah, “without permission of the publisher.” This in a book where both text and pictures date from the 19th (or 1900th?) century and so are in the public domain! I wonder if there are any legal penalties for claiming copyright protection when you don’t actually have it?