Rediscovered: Dustjackets for Derleth


Even though we are nearing the end of over four months in release, it is still fun for me to keep track of how A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos by my pal John D. Haefele is doing on the Amazon Bestseller List for Horror Litcrit. For a day, three days, he sometimes has fallen out of the Top Twenty, but bounces back into the Top Ten. On January 21/22/23 it looked like the book might be in a death spiral, in free fall out of the Top 21-40 — positions 27, 29, 32, 34. . . . Uhoh.

Then by noon on the 23rd it was back to no.2 and as I mock up this post, it sits at no.4. A brutal little tank of a book.

While my favorite aspect of the book is the brilliant criticism it contains on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft (Haefele tells me he believes he’ll have the first draft of his next book, Lovecraft: The Great Tales, ready before PulpFest), he approaches that subject via a look into August Derleth and Arkham House, and the birth of the Cthulhu Mythos. (I wonder, if we talked Haefele into coming to PulpFest, which panel exactly would he have to appear on?)

Out of the blue another pal, Brian Leno, sent me a link to a business that manufactures facsimile dustjackets for collectable books — since, let’s face it, no one is going to pay money for a replacement dustjacket on an uncollectable book. And the page Brian selected features an array of jackets for what I take are the high ticket items from the Derleth bibliography. Once you are on site, you can poke around and see what else they have available — as harmless a hobby as keeping track of bestseller lists, unless you are possessed by the impulse to replace all the battered djs in your library with shiny new ones. But the business apparently is in San Francisco, so in that case at least you’d be contributing to the local economy.

Me, I’m more or less a purist for that sort of thing, which is to say I prefer to match the book on the shelf with the dustjacket it has lived its life in. If the book has some damage or bookplates, hey, who hasn’t taken some punches along the way.

In a choice between a book that has no jacket and slipping on a new one, however, I won’t deny a spine looks much better on the shelf inside that jacket.

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