04 June 2010

Awful Allens

Further to Tuesday's post. The cover of the Leadenhead Michael's Crag might not be as attractive as Rand McNally's (above), but is it not more interesting? "MR. GRANT ALLEN'S NEW STORY 'MICHAEL'S CRAG'" suggests.... what? Great anticipation? A long wait? Neither would have been true; even as Michael's Crag appeared, the author's next novel, The Scallywag, was being serialized in the weekly Graphic. What's more, it followed hot on the heals of Ivan Greet's Masterpiece etc. (1893), a collection of new and recently published short stories.

Allen was a busy man – in his opinion, the busiest in England – before dying of "liver related problems" at the grand old age of 51, he'd published seventy books. I know of only two that are in print today, The Woman Who Did and The Type-writer Girl, both fine scholarly editions from Peterborough's Broadview Press. These and nearly all the others are available from various print on demand firms. With few exceptions, they appear such nasty things, particularly when placed next to their Victorian counterparts. Compare, if you will, Ferro's 1896 edition of A Bride from the Desert to that offered by print on demand publisher BiblioBazaar.

Let's ignore the line-wrap and focus on the image. Intriguing, isn't it? What, one wonders, does a bamboo forest have to do with something titled A Bride from the Desert? The answer is, of course, nothing. The photo is one of several that BiblioBazaar places on their books. Look for no rhyme, consider no reason. Here the same photo is used on Allen's Flowers and Their Pedigrees (1884).

So, what we have is a cheap POD publisher with a set number of stock images. I get it. But is it not odd that BiblioBazaar uses two of these images, both appropriate for A Bride from the Desert, on their editions of Allen's Venice (1898)?

Ah, yes, Venice, the desert wasteland. BiblioBazaar also offers two different editions dealing with that maritime city we call Paris.

Lest anyone think I'm picking on BiblioBazaar, I end this rant by pointing to this beauty from England's General Books. Though I've never seen the first edition, I'm willing to bet a considerable sum that it is a far sight more attractive than this:

Related posts:
Wings of Delusion
What? No Tutis?

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