20 August 2012


Publishers send out advanced copies of most books. They go to reviewers, famous people who may give a good cover blurb, booksellers, etc. An advance copy is usually privately published and distributed by the publishing house and is more than likely an uncorrected proof. Errors and all. The typesetting is odd, the print is large, the cover is not finished, but there is it. A book.

This is Michael Chabon's new book. It comes out September 11th. I bring this up because I have found myself in possession of an advance reader edition of it and have waded 50 or so pages in. It's alright so far, I'll review it sometime right before it comes out.

This isn't the first advanced copy I have fallen into.

Back in 2008 I stumbled on a copy of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book on the street about a month before it came out. The average advance copy is sent out up to 3 months prior to publication. This gives reviewers a huge window to get their reading/shredding of said reading done. So it isn't unusual to find these books at used-bookstores or on the street here in Brooklyn.

There are lots of editors/pretend editors in Brooklyn.

The final edition of Gaiman's book had lovely illustrations in it by Dave McKean.

My street-found edition does not. The page numbers don't match up to the final and the cover is missing the pretty silver foil effect on the words. But, the book is a magical read even in that rough form. Once I saw the illustrations there was a part of me that felt cheated, like I wanted to go out and buy the 'real' version but how can you trade in that great dog-eared free copy for a slick new one?

I also like the idea that the copy of the book I'm reading was read by someone 'important'. Someone, one of the luck 5,000 who receive advance copies, touched, read, and maybe reviewed this book I'm reading. And unlike great found books with marginalia and names scrawled in them, these advance reader books are nameless, blind. You have to imagine who read it.

That makes it so odd and fun.

Check out the shelves in the basement at The Strand or on eBay. You can find a trove of these things. Some become collectibles, so that's a plus to this hidden side of publishing.

No comments:

Post a Comment