16 September 2013

K is for Kindle

An African Millionaire
Grant Allen
London: Grant Richards, 1897
A thing of beauty is a joy forever, but is it really fair to burden one's descendants? Consider the advantages offered by ebooks: they weigh nothing, can be moved easily, and free up the wall you were eyeing for that 70" Sharp Aquos flat screen. What's more, you never actually own an ebook – that "Buy now with just 1-click" button being just another of Amazon's lies. After death, your ebooks will go away with time.

Ebooks being evanescent, it's entirely understandable that little effort is put into their design. The eBooksLib offering above was thrown together so quickly that no one noticed the title was wrong. To be fair, the author's name is correct; which is something that can't be said of everything coming from eBooksLib.

I first encountered this particular ebooks "publisher" while looking for a copy of Recalled to Life, Grant Allen's novel about a young woman who loses her memory through the shock of her father's murder. Henry Holt published the first and only American edition in 1891:

The eBooksLib edition is, I think, more memorable.

Those interested in design will be disappointed to learn that eBooksLib has since dropped images, adopting a uniform format that consists of nothing more than muted colour and text. Their place in my heart has been usurped by the Library of Alexandria (of Los Angeles, California). While the designs aren't terribly flashy, image selection intrigues.

That tigers are not native to Africa may explain why the mammal doesn't feature in Allen's book. Comparing author and designer, it would seem that the latter has the greater imagination.

Here we have the Comte de Frontenac (1622-1698)  in 18th-century drag, anticipating the Chevalier d'Eon.

The Library of Alexandria's Pioneers of France in the New World prompts a question:
What did Marguerite de Navarre have to do with the settlement of New France?
The answer, of course, is nothing – though she was alive in 1534 when Jacques Cartier claimed the Gaspé Penisula for her brother, Francis I.

The Library of Alexandria tries to play it safe with Charles William Crolby's story of Samuel de Champlain, using the distorted image of a flag for a country that came into existence twenty-three decades after his death. Lest anyone become confused, Library of Alexandria (again, of Los Angeles, California) would like you to note that this title is Made in the United States of America.

Library of Alexandria's Canada might not be the tropical paradise presented by Tutis Classics, but it still looks like a good place to winter.

What better place to spend those months than in the Duck Lake district of Northern Ontario. Couples who think that the kids might best be left behind are reminded that Reverend Young's little volume was first published by the Religious Tract Society as part of their "Every Boy's Bookshelf" series.

Bookshelves. Who needs them.

Note: The Grant Richards edition of An African Millionaire pictured at the beginning of this post is valued at US$650. And Henry Holt's Recalled to Life? Not a single copy is listed for sale online.

from An African Millionaire


  1. Uptown Sinclair! Soon appearing at the Green Mill jazz club with Frank "Greedy Boy" Norris on drums and "Through-the-Door" Dreiser on piano.

    1. Must admit that in conversation I sometimes confuse Uptown Sinclair with Sinclair Lowus.