Got another note from Vince Emery, letting me know that the dustup between Amazon and IPG — Independent Publisher Group — has been resolved and you can once again purchase the Hammett Tour book on your Kindle, if you’ve got a Kindle and want an eversion of the tour book.
Back on track to becoming a Kindle bestseller!
And this reminds me — every now and then I wonder what Lillian Hellman would think about ebooks.
In the tour book I quote from her introduction to the collection The Big Knockover (1966) where she writes about the Op stories, “by publishing them at all, I have done what Hammett did not want to do; he turned down offers to republish the stories, although I never knew the reason and never asked.”
As we all know, in ten volumes Frederic Dannay collected (sometimes with brutal editing) a total of 54 out of 66 Hammett short stories. And Hammett himself, or his agent, sold an unknown number of his short stories to newspapers over a period of decades. Those stories, they got around.
It’s quite possible Hellman never knew about the many reprints. She could have been busy with other matters, more uptown stuff, not paying attention.
But I’ve always thought she must have been one of the people who didn’t think of something as a “real book” unless said book appeared in hardcovers from a respectable press such as Knopf or Random House. Paperbacks, they weren’t real books, they didn’t count.
I’ve actually met several people who held that idea — around thirty years ago a guy who was telling me about how it was too bad Fritz Leiber didn’t have more than a handful of books published, he was such a good writer.
What do you mean? I said — Fritz has published at least thirty or forty books.
After wading through the confusion, I finally figured out that the guy didn’t count paperback first editions, only first edition hardbacks. You could have a huge body of work but until you started hitting hardcovers, none of it counted — which is why it took a long time for writers such as Philip K. Dick and Charles Willeford to bust their reps out of the paperback ghetto.
And if some people didn’t think a paperback was a real book, what will they think about an ebook?
Even I don’t think of ebooks as real books, and I try to remain open-minded on the subject.