Kendra Steiner Editions

April 4, 2019

Jack Kerouac in the Public Domain???? Hmmm….

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:04 pm

It’s hard to believe that ANY of Jack Kerouac’s published works would have fallen into the public domain, and when they eventually do, I’d assume that THE TOWN AND THE CITY would be the first one to assume PD status, as it was the first one published.

ker 1

Recently, I saw two of my favorite Kerouac works offered in low-priced reprints, billed as a “facsimile of the original 1960 edition,” available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as other online book retailers. I had a feeling that “these won’t be available for very long,”  so I took the plunge and bought both, SCRIPTURE only $4.95, and TRISTESSA only $7.50. There is also a low-priced “facsimile” of MAGGIE CASSIDY available, though I did not purchase that.

ker 2

The texts of each certainly are exact reproductions of the 1960 versions of TRISTESSA (published by Avon) and SCRIPTURE (published by Totem/Corinth). The TRISTESSA one I know very well as it is clearly taken from the same printing used for the 1970’s version of the novel published by McGraw-Hill, which I owned as a teenager and carried around with me and read probably 15 times and almost memorized.

TRISTESSA is presently in print from Penguin, available everywhere. SCRIPTURE is in print from City Lights, available everywhere where quality Beat literature is sold.

These two new “facsimile” books are clearly print-on-demand editions. Does anyone know what’s going on here? Is there some loophole that allows these publications–some kind of domestic protection-gap? Or were they licensed from the rights-holder? SCRIPTURE is a relatively short book of 66 aphorisms and will never have wide appeal. TRISTESSA, though, is a novel, and this is a handsome edition, selling for about half of Penguin’s. It will surely cut into their market. I’d be tempted to order a dozen copies and give them to friends….

One wonders what the backstory is here….I’m sure the Kerouac estate would be interested….I will not name the publisher here, in case these are proper and legal (you can easily Google them and find out for yourself), because I do not intend to cast any aspersions….just wondering….

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ker 3

NOTE: Above is the 1970’s McGraw-Hill edition of TRISTESSA. The new “facsimile” printing uses the same text layout of the book.

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