Ebook publishing offers a new lease on life for reprinting old novels but what about short stories and classic anthologies? Successful novels tend to stay in print, but not anthologies. I suppose editors buy rights for a limited time and when the anthology goes out of print they no longer have the rights to use the stories any more. But I’d sure love to have a lot of classic science fiction anthologies on my Kindle.
I like my Kindle best for reading short stories. I’ve been getting the annual Dozois and Hartwell/Cramer collections for my Kindle for a couple years now and it really works out well. The Dozois book is HUGE with small print, so its much easier to plow through the volume reading on an ebook.
I wished Dozois and the Hartwell/Cramer collections were available on audio, but alas they are not. But I do get The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction series, edited by Allan Kastor, now in it’s third year.
So I’m well covered on current stories, but what about classic science fiction short stories?
What if it was possible to reprint classic anthologies, which ones would I want?
Adventures in Time and Space edited by Healy and McComas
This hardly scratches the surface of great science fiction anthologies, but by using the annual bests it systematically covers all the years from 1939 to the present. And we can capture the 1930s with these two collections.
Before the Golden Age edited by Isaac Asimov
If only all these fantastic collections could be reprinted as ebooks, or better yet, as audio books. I suppose some enterprising publisher and editor could look at the stories in all these collections and seek to get reprint rights and create a new series of anthologies. They could call it Classic Science Fiction for the Digital Age and publish it in a series of volumes for ebooks and audio.
Would there be much of an audience for this old science fiction? I don’t know. Project Guttenberg is reprinting a lot of early science fiction in multiple ebook formats that often include the original art. Take a look at this September 1930 issue of Astounding Magazine. It’s beautifully laid out for html, but also offers many ebook formats here.
Copyrights will keep modern science fiction, like what’s in most of the best of the best-of anthologies above out of these public domain offerings, which is rather sad. It means most of those stories will probably be never read again. Of course, I don’t know if there are readers for these public domain reprints. I do wish someone would make an easy to use app to add the Project Guttenberg issues of Astounding to my iPad. I’ll have to experiment with this and write about it in a future blog.
JWH – 9/3/11