Indian Facsimile Books

This is rather interesting. I only ran across it because I was searching ABE for a copy of a very obscure old novel (Etidorhpa by John Uri Lloyd – a once quite legendary but now rather forgotten hollow earth novel from 1895), and hemming over the not particularly good-looking newer editions that various people had re-released into the storm of books that we live among today. Among them, however, were a lot of copies apparently coming from India, illustrated with generic, anonymous place-holder images of leather-bound volumes. And I was puzzled, trying to work out what they were. The prices were not too bad, but the listings looked extremely automated. Mechanised listings with no specifics whatsoever. And in this age of online distrust, I was even wondering whether they could be fake.

It took a bit of digging and chatting with some Indian contacts to find out what was going on here. It seems that it’s basically a POD system that is quite big in the country, basically trawling for versions of old public domain titles in online archives and offering them as facsimile books that are made to order. Not so different to many many other presses who release these older volumes with greater or lesser love and attention. But there was one thing here that was very different. In addition to the usual paperbacks and hardbacks, there were some other versions available – deluxe and super-deluxe editions. Essentially print on demand leatherbound volumes! Again, hand-made to order. And that got my attention very quickly. It’s one thing to dump these old texts lifted from the Internet Archive or wherever into a basic book and launch it out into the world – but these looked good. The pictures were appealing and beautifully classical book porn. I have to say, I was still a bit dubious – not at all sure what I was going to get. Maybe they’d be low quality – maybe put together using weird source PDFs – maybe even fake listings leading to nothing. But in the end, I placed an order for the deluxe edition of that very obscure old novel, figuring that if it turned out to be a disaster, I hadn’t lost so much. The prices were not bad, after all, and by this point, I was really curious.

And then … I waited. I knew they took quite a while to make and send, so I waited – waited as India was suddenly in the news, filled with Covid horror. I was almost starting to think that it might never happen, under the circumstances, my curiosity unanswered and still not knowing what I was dealing with. Until at the height of the Covid outbreak there, it quietly arrived.

And – it’s beautiful! It really is. Subtly different to many other higher-end books, with that hand-made feel. But it feels well-bound so far, the paper is soft and nice – a solid and good-looking volume. And for what it is, the price is really quite appealing. What this company isn’t is a publisher as such … it’s a system for producing facsimiles. BUT, if you want to get hold of a nice copy of an old work, this actually seems a bloody good way to do it. The quality will of course partly depend on the original or the PDF or whatever. Problems with that will be copied right over – but that’s what a facsimile book is, and if one goes into it knowing that then it almost becomes part of the fun. One thing I would advise is, if at all possible, check the PDF first. The company often lists multiple versions of the same title, where their system has found multiple PDFs – and I could be wrong, but I think they copy across the original file names as catalogue entries. That can be awkward in some senses (I’m not sure what to make of “Kepler, Somnium Notes, Rosen” in their catalogue, for instance. IS that Kepler’s very early sci-fi novel? I will research more!), but maybe one can use these to track down and check the original PDF release on the Internet Archive or wherever.

The company is Gyan Books – – and at some point, I must try out one of their cheaper ‘trade’ hardcovers to see just what I get. The super-deluxe edition is even grander, but somewhat outside my wallet.

Published in: on May 22, 2021 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This is one of my most prized books. It’s a hallucinatory horror novel that is extremely strong, vivid and original, filled with a kind of stinking beautiful poetry of rot and perversion – it made a huge impression on me when I first read it. There were only 150 of these printed by Delirium, and for a long time this was the only complete version of the book available – which rather epitomizes my ambivalent relationship with these special limited editions. On the one hand, it is nice to own something so special, but there seems something wrong to me about having a work tied up in such a rarefied circle of readers, especially when the prices start climbing up into the triple digits! You can’t exactly grab people and say “hey, you have to read this!” Fortunately, it’s now available in paperback as well and well worth checking out if you are feeling like such a strange journey through the jungles of Cambodia.

Published in: on April 5, 2016 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Morning Yet?

This is crazy. It’s evening and I have just been lying in bed working on a short story set on the London canals in the deep night – and a peaceful dawn breaks at the very end. Now I am utterly convinced that it’s morning and that I should probably get up soon . . .

Published in: on March 13, 2015 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Duet now available to read online – in Wordland 5 from Exaggerated Press

Another of my short stories has just been published, this time in Wordland 5 from Exaggerated Press.  You can read it online here along with plenty of other great writers – or you can get the hardcopy soon.

The theme was True Love.  I am a bit of a twisted, bruised romantic, so the theme was certainly a good one to play with. The result was a bizarrely icy, lonely and surreal horror story about the underground music scene set in London – lonely concerts in bizarre industrial warehouses, a hefty dose of urban alienation and an unusual amount of the surreal for me.  The Black Sheet Moth spreads its wings . . .

Published in: on January 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blood is Not Pink – free to read online

One of my (rare) shorter works has been published over on the Sparks of Consciousness blog and can be read for free online.  Called Blood is Not Pink, this is an odd one for me – a whimsical but dark and even slightly cruel slipstream miniature.  Click through and have a read!  You don’t often see things this small with my name on them!  And yes, it features my character Richard Jarvis, the English Gentleman . . .

Published in: on January 8, 2015 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aaah the romance of writing . . .

Writing a book is like being in love – as you work on it, as you get so intimate with it, there is no question whatsoever that this is ‘The One’ – and no way will you ever be involved in the creation of anything better.  It has all the sense and rationality and intellectual reasoning we tend to show with our human relationships.

And then it’s over – it’s finished – it’s gone out of your life . . . the reviewers start mauling it around, and that process is a bit like your friend buying you a drink and saying “Hey, I know you were close but, you know, she’s just another novel.  There’s plenty more fish in the sea”.  And you sigh and nod and stare forlornly at your completed work . . .

And then before you know it, you are hard at work on another ‘The One’ – and your friends are rolling their eyes with a hint of weariness, muttering ‘here we go again . . .”

Published in: on January 4, 2015 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  

New Story Accepted for Publication – Duet.

It’s a rare enough event so I have to get a bit excited.  It’s rare considering how slow my output is and that when I write a piece, the creative process seems to go on forever.  Stories tend to be large, take at least five or six drafts and are always beleaguered by the day job and the small publisher I run, Eibonvale Press. But anyway – my story Duet has been accepted for publication in Wordland 5: True Love from Exaggerated Press.

I am a bit of a twisted, bruised romantic, so the theme was certainly a good one to play with. The result was a bizarrely icy, lonely and surreal horror story about the underground music scene set in London – lonely concerts in bizarre industrial warehouses, a hefty dose of urban alienation and an unusual amount of the surreal for me.  The Black Sheet Moth spreads its wings . . .

As an aside, I do have another piece accepted for publication soon that i am not at liberty to mention yet, save that it is possibly my favorite story yet.  So watch this space.  :-)

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment