Yesterday in Abbeys I saw five copies of Luca Antara for sale. The English edition, from Oldcastle Books. The hardback. 2008. How did they get here? From what I recall, Oldcastle bought the rights from East Street, for a grand. That went towards reducing a debt I still owe. Not that they are pursuing me. I once tried to find out how big the print run was, how many they sold, if there were any royalties due – no dice. I always liked this edition, the object, better than the Oz one. Abbeys were selling them for $15 – I had to resist the urge to buy all of them – it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve bought my own books – but why? I still have a few a copies left. But it’s a bargain, nevertheless. I think. Or not.
Well I went back today and bought the five copies, but it turns out I only wrote one of them – the other four have a different name on the title page, one Martin Edwards. Two of these four also have glossy endpapers, but only at the front. They seem otherwise the same. It’s a strange fate for a book which concerns itself with questions of authenticity, of fraud and counterfeiting, of the fictional entwined with the historical. I also discovered, on the net, an alternative back cover (see above, right), one that I’ve never seen on any actual copy. It includes quotes from reviews published after the book was released.
What to do? American authors, when they sign copies of their own books, cross out the printed name on the title page – is that how I should go? Are they more valuable altered or intact? (I know they’re not really valuable at all.) I didn’t realise the four were faulty until after I left the shop, because I only looked properly at the top copy, the ‘real’ one. The fellow behind the counter said these five were the only ones they had in stock and that they came from a supplier in Melbourne, about whom he could tell me nothing, except that he deals in remaindered books. Who knew?