Friday Bookblogging: How Many Janes Do You Have? Edition


(On Saturday once again! We are determined to be caught up today.)

There are not just new Austen-related sequels and biographies and other works coming out these days, there also are new editions of her novels. Premier Books has released a set of the novels in Canada (they seem to only be available at Chapters) that have covers with a modern feeling: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey. One might also say they echo the film posters for P&P05 and Becoming Jane. Also, the Adventures in Reading blog posted new covers for the Vintage Classics Series editions that are taken from period fashion plates. We like those very much, even though the periods displayed might not match the setting of the book.

What do you think of these new book covers? And how many editions of the novels do YOU own? 😉 (We have: one set, Chapman editions; one set, softcover Everyman Library editions given out by the Daily Telegraph earlier this year, courtesy of Dear Friend of AustenBlog Kathleen; several Brock illustrated antique editions of various novels; assorted paperbacks that we pick up at the book swap to lend/give away, which are currently all with a co-worker; e-books in eReader and Mobipocket versions.)

Library Journal has an interview with Syrie James, author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (we’ll have a review and a giveaway of this book). The News & Observer also has a roundup of several recent Austen-related titles; the author of the piece professes herself “the only woman in America who loves to read who, frankly, can take or leave Jane Austen,” so one might wish to take that into consideration while reading it.

Hard on the heels of Grigg the Science Fiction Geek in The Jane Austen Book Club, science fiction author S.C. Butler explains why he likes Jane Austen.

I like Austen for her humor and her insight and the way she makes the most everyday events affecting and important. I love her characters’ wit, and laugh at the way Elizabeth falls into her own trap of loving Darcy every time I read Pride and Prejudice. Life is wonderful when you’re reading Austen, and that’s a good thing.

Ain’t it, though?

Speaking of authors, Lori Smith, author of the upcoming A Walk With Jane Austen (we’ll have a review of that, too), wrote a column for about her, and our, love affair with Jane Austen.

What motivates this devotion to all things Austen? Is it simply the appeal of fairy-tale romance, or is there something more redeeming here?

There are so many answers to that question. I’m sure the romance is a big part of it. The falling-in-love journey, with all of its miscommunications and setbacks, can be an awful lot of fun, as Austen captured in what was essentially the beginning of chick lit.

But there is much more to Austen. You can’t read her books or her letters without knowing that she had a wonderful energy for life. She loved to laugh, and her books are full of humor we still understand today. Her dialog is pitch-perfect.

Why yes, it is. 🙂

We were amused to receive a link to an article about a seller of antique books in Atlantic City, as those of us who collect the antique editions (see above) are familiar with the name of this business, which in our opinion overprices many of their books to a truly shocking degree; something our readers who like such books might want to keep in mind when plumbing the joys of eBay. Also we think it germane to point out that Atlantic City (the location of the business) is nowhere near Princeton, either geographically or metaphorically. 😉

And finally, truly the most curious part of this week’s Bookblogging. A book called The Savvy Gal’s Guide to Online Networking (Or What Would Jane Austen Do?) doesn’t seem to have, from this press release, anything to do with Jane Austen, except the title, though we think the reference to “great manners” (is that like Lady Catherine’s manners? She was “great” in the 18th-century understanding of the word) might be a clue. But in the “Oh No She Did Not Go There” Department, we have the following:

Diane and Lindsey have taken another unusual step for successful, published authors: They’ve chosen to use a POD (publish on demand) approach to their new book. “With a built-in audience of over 10,000 professional members of Downtown Women’s Clubs across the country, it would not have been difficult to find a traditional publisher for the book,” Danielson said. “But Book Locker is terrific to work with, and “The Savvy Gal’s Guide to Online Networking” is available in all of the traditional online bookstores, like and Barnes & Noble.” An interesting fact about Jane Austen that Diane discovered; she self-published as well!

Okay, let’s put a stop to this right now. While a very few famous authors have successfully self-published, Jane Austen is not among them. First of all, the way publishing works today is completely different from how it worked in Jane Austen’s day. Publishers printed the books and distributed them to booksellers; if profits did not cover the publisher’s costs, the authors were obliged to pay the difference. Several of Jane Austen’s novels were published under this arrangement, but all made a profit so Jane Austen was not obliged to pay the publisher anything. Alternatively, publishers bought the copyright of the book (at that time 14 years, which could be renewed for a further 14 years) outright, as Thomas Egerton did with Pride and Prejudice. He paid Jane £110 up front and owned P&P for 14 years. He could bring out as many editions as he wanted, spend little money for cheap paper and charge as much as he wanted, and Jane never saw a dime of it; and that’s exactly what Egerton did. (That might be one of the reaons why the second edition of MP and all editions of Emma, Persuasion and NA were published by John Murray; perhaps Jane knew she had been taken for a ride.)

Despite the general ickiness of such arrangements, they actually follow Yog’s Law, which all authors are urged to follow: money flows toward the writer (except when the book didn’t make a profit, we suppose). Unless you think it’s okay to sell a publisher your copyright in 2007 (lifetime plus 70 years thanks to Mickey Mouse and Sonny Bono), don’t compare modern self-publishing to author-subsidized publishing in Jane Austen’s day. It is fallacious, mendacious, and just plain wrong. The Editrix has spoken. Don’t make us Cluebat you.

Many thanks to Alert Janeites Rebecca, Eileen, and Lisa for sending us so many great links!