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I'm guessing everyone saw the new Sylvia Plath cover. I had no idea about the Anne of Green Gables furore, though!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/08/anne-green-gables-blonde-red-hair

What were the people behind it thinking?! Also, I'm confused - how can someone self-publish AGG (using CreateSpace) or did I get that wrong?
#1 - February 08, 2013, 07:22 AM

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Also, I'm confused - how can someone self-publish AGG (using CreateSpace) or did I get that wrong?

If AGG was first published in 1908, does that make it public domain now? *does mental math*

But um, disgusted that someone would do this to Anne! I'm confused also how this is allowed to happen.
#2 - February 08, 2013, 08:27 AM
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 08:30 AM by Artemesia »
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This has been all over the web and a number of reputable people (Harold U among them) have pointed out that it's in the public domain and someone just self-pubbed it - obviously trying to make $$. Anyone can do that. I think it's getting far more attention than it deserves.
#3 - February 08, 2013, 08:50 AM
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This has been all over the web and a number of reputable people (Harold U among them) have pointed out that it's in the public domain and someone just self-pubbed it - obviously trying to make $$. Anyone can do that. I think it's getting far more attention than it deserves.

My first thought was, how horrible--who would try to exploit a classic like AGG and make money off it! But then my next thought was, wait -- commercial booksellers have been doing that for years. I guess this is really no different.

I bet a lot of people choose which version of a book they want to read based on price, or the cover, etc. But I think there are a lot of us who are savvy readers and pay attention to the publisher. I know that long before I started writing, when I'd buy a classic I'd pay attention to the imprint and try to determine, is this a high-quality, definitive edition? Or is this just something put together to make easy money on something that didn't demand royalty payments? I still believe that quality always wins in the end so I'll just put my faith that that continues to be true. And hey -- if someone publishes an excellent version of a classic (I don't know what would make it so excellent -- maybe it is without copyeditor errors, or includes valuable footnotes, etc.) and it becomes a financial success, then all the more power to them I suppose.

(Edited to add: And please know -- while I don't usually judge a book by its cover, and having no intention of reading this version of AGG I am not qualified to speak to its quality, but I am not grouping this version of AGG into my theoretical "high quality definitive version" scenario.)
#4 - February 08, 2013, 11:02 AM
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 11:19 PM by Christine B. »

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It struck me as a non-story too. Anyone can stick a photo of anything on public domain works. Now, if it was a traditional publisher trying to pull this off my reaction would be a little different.
#5 - February 08, 2013, 12:02 PM
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Just when I was ready to forget about  this...

A literary friend posted it on Facebook. One of her friends responded with something along the lines of, With that cover, they were just hoping for cheap publicity for "the new edition."

"The new edition"? Oh no! Please tell me that was just a hasty word choice, and that the general public won't assume this is the "the new edition" of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!
#6 - February 08, 2013, 10:04 PM
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 11:20 PM by Christine B. »

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The cover, that looks like the old Jane Mansfield, pin up girl, calendar photo's (arm behind head, chest out, back arched) made me sick! I can't say it any more plain then that I guess.
I was shocked that someone could or would self publish the story. But, the text is in public domain. What is not in the public domain and is controlled by the family and PEI is the IMAGE of Anne (oh, but they skirted that issue and changed her to Daisy Duke didn't they)
I can guarantee there isn't a Canadian that would buy the book though. You don't mess with our hockey, our Tim Hortens and you NEVER mess with PEI's Anne:)
#7 - February 09, 2013, 03:17 AM
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 03:26 AM by christripp »
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"The new edition"? Oh no! Please tell me that was just a hasty word choice, and that the general public won't assume this nonsense publication is the "the new edition" of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!

This. This is what makes a story where there otherwise might not be one, I think. It's extremely misleading. Yes, it's public domain, and yes, there are imprints that republish classics. But those imprints are not trying to imply they are doing "new, updated editions." Someone is going to buy this thinking it's a modernization, similar to the updated Nancy Drew.

And making Anne anything other than red-haired is IMO brainless.
#8 - February 09, 2013, 08:41 AM
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Didn’t know about it until I looked at this thread just now. I’m not so much outraged as thinking; this is in the same vein as so many cheaply produced (largely quickly made E-books) these days. You know the sort I mean, where the cover designer DID NOT READ THE BOOK and the cover is disconnected from the story.
Anne with an E was one of my favorite imaginary friends who accompanied my childhood, probably like many of you.
#9 - February 09, 2013, 10:53 AM
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This. This is what makes a story where there otherwise might not be one, I think. It's extremely misleading. Yes, it's public domain, and yes, there are imprints that republish classics. But those imprints are not trying to imply they are doing "new, updated editions." Someone is going to buy this thinking it's a modernization, similar to the updated Nancy Drew.

And making Anne anything other than red-haired is IMO brainless.
Yes - I had someone on my FB wall post and talk about the new edition, too. I had to explain it was self-published and in the public domain, and it wasn't the same as a publisher putting out a new edition, but people don't get it...
#10 - February 09, 2013, 12:01 PM
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Because it is in public domain, it is just a matter of time before someone comes out with a 'spiced-up' version. Unfortunately.

:( eab
#11 - February 09, 2013, 12:03 PM

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Because it is in public domain, it is just a matter of time before someone comes out with a 'spiced-up' version. Unfortunately.

:( eab

Reading that made me shudder. Let's just rename it Anne of Raunchy Stables and be done with it.
#12 - February 09, 2013, 05:22 PM

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Yikes. 50 shades of what should not happen to a timeless classic!
#13 - February 09, 2013, 08:34 PM
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Yikes. 50 shades of what should not happen to a timeless classic!

Touche'!
#14 - February 09, 2013, 08:55 PM

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Just can't wait to see what the next "Author" does with "Little Woman". Now there is a book that just begs for a new cover, something along the lines of 4 girls lounging in a brothel setting. Oh  :gaah!!!
#15 - February 10, 2013, 02:03 AM
"Penelope and the Humongous Burp"
"Penelope and the Monsters"
"Penelope and the Preposterous Birthday Party"

Because it is in public domain, it is just a matter of time before someone comes out with a 'spiced-up' version. Unfortunately.

:( eab

I can see it now: Marilla runs a brothel and pimps out the girls of PEI. Oh, Josie, your next client is here.

Oy.
#16 - February 10, 2013, 05:54 AM

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I can see it now: Marilla runs a brothel and pimps out the girls of PEI. Oh, Josie, your next client is here.

Oy.

Well... those Pye girls never were nice.
#17 - February 10, 2013, 06:32 AM
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You guys are joking about it, but remembe the Jane Austen/zombies "mash-up"?

Can the [insert classic's name here/porn mash-up be far behind?
#18 - February 10, 2013, 03:07 PM
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You guys are joking about it, but remembe the Jane Austen/zombies "mash-up"?

Can the [insert classic's name here/porn mash-up be far behind?

That's exactly what I've been thinking about. :(

The cover's awful, but yeah. Messing with the actual text and inserting sex/gore/violence/general icky stuff is, to my mind, much worse than a tasteless cover. And that's something that both trade and self-publishers are guilty of doing. It just feels . . . slimy to me to change a person's story--likely in a way they wouldn't like--and profit off of it.
#19 - February 10, 2013, 03:26 PM

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"It just feels . . . slimy to me to change a person's story--likely in a way they wouldn't like--and profit off of it."

I agree, but unfortunately that's a core assumption of copyright law: that after a certain amount of time (which in the US is much longer than it used to be) someone's work belongs to the public, and not to them.
#20 - February 10, 2013, 05:57 PM
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I agree, but unfortunately that's a core assumption of copyright law: that after a certain amount of time (which in the US is much longer than it used to be) someone's work belongs to the public, and not to them.

Yes. :D On one hand, it's a good thing. There are so many wonderful stories that might have been lost otherwise. On the other hand . . . Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. :(
#21 - February 10, 2013, 06:06 PM

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You don't want to know what they've done to Jane Eyre...
#22 - February 10, 2013, 07:09 PM
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That's exactly what I've been thinking about. :(

The cover's awful, but yeah. Messing with the actual text and inserting sex/gore/violence/general icky stuff is, to my mind, much worse than a tasteless cover. And that's something that both trade and self-publishers are guilty of doing. It just feels . . . slimy to me to change a person's story--likely in a way they wouldn't like--and profit off of it.

I agree. But....Tolkien would have HATED the movies made from his books, and I kind of liked them.

:) eab
#23 - February 10, 2013, 08:33 PM

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I agree. But....Tolkien would have HATED the movies made from his books, and I kind of liked them.

:) eab

True. But they didn't radically alter the movies from the books. While they did change some things, I think it was to fit with telling the story visually, and it seemed like they tried to stay true to the spirit of the novels. :D
#24 - February 10, 2013, 09:45 PM

True. But they didn't radically alter the movies from the books. While they did change some things, I think it was to fit with telling the story visually, and it seemed like they tried to stay true to the spirit of the novels. :D

I just re-read the LOTR and was surprised at how much they really had changed. Shifting male characters (with huge long histories) into female I had of course caught, but there was more. It wasn't just visual. They added scenes between Sam and Gollum, for instance. But...I still liked the movies. They kept a great deal that was good, and there was a great deal of good to work with.

:) eab
#25 - February 11, 2013, 07:14 AM

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I just re-read the LOTR and was surprised at how much they really had changed. Shifting male characters (with huge long histories) into female I had of course caught, but there was more. It wasn't just visual. They added scenes between Sam and Gollum, for instance. But...I still liked the movies. They kept a great deal that was good, and there was a great deal of good to work with.

:) eab


Movie adaptations are rarely completely faithful to the original text. So, to me, this is apples and grapefruit. :D The better movies at least keep the spirit and themes of the books. For instance, Coraline. The movie adds a character (am re-reading Coraline right now, and haven't stumbled across Wybee (sp?) yet), changes some things (the dolls, the marbles, etc.), but stays true to the story (as opposed to the words) in the atmosphere and the themes. I still prefer the book to the movie, but that's usually the case. Howl's Moving Castle is another that deviated wildly from the actual book in places (I will *never* be used to Michael as a child), but remained true to the story, as opposed to the actual words.

So, for me, The Lord of the Rings movies are a completely different thing from The Lord of the Rings and Vampires. *shudders*
#26 - February 11, 2013, 12:35 PM

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Very interesting conversation; it's a new world out there.

But getting back to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES -- I was under the impression that this self-published version did not change the story at all, that it is word-for-word AGG, just with this weird, stock-art cover. I thought the angle was that this printing was cheaper than other versions of AGG available online, and that the person who offered it just thought, "You can buy AGG for $10, but I can self-publish it and offer it for $5." Am I wrong? Apparently it is no longer for sale so I don't know the exact pricing etc.

I've gotta say -- even though that's not very different than what I was talking about earlier, with imprints like Barnes & Noble publishing its own line of classics at a lower price than the versions offered by other publishing houses, the idea of a self-publisher doing this for money really rubs me the wrong way. I'd rather see a Canadian university, for example, printing the entire text on its website for free than to see some opportunist take advantage of the fact that many readers don't know public domain laws and won't understand how this version is different than one being sold by a major publishing house with an editorial staff. Somehow it feels like it's taking advantage of readers most of all.

In a way, I have more respect for someone who takes a classic story and changes it. That requires work and creativity. Sure, we've all read/seen versions of our favorites that we think are so bad they make us sick. But there are other examples that work really well and become beloved homages to the original work. In other words, I'd judge a re-envisioning of a classic according to its merits just like I would a fully original version. Whereas checking out AGG from the library, typing it up, and selling it online feels so sneaky to me. I don't know why; in the long run it will probably be my attitude that must change because I bet this won't be the last time we see this happe.

I'll just have to put my faith in what I said before: that artistic quality always wins in the end. And I do believe that not all editions of a classic work are created equal, even if the text is identical.

What I am confused about is this: so AGG might be in the public domain, but a current, copyrighted edition of the work is not, right? What I mean is that, even though the text of AGG is public domain, that does not mean that a recent Penguin version of AGG, for example, is public domain and that you can specifically use that Penguin version to copy from, right? Doesn't your source material for the text need to be public domain as well? If so, where do you find the source material? I suppose that cannot be traced, but this question was bugging me.
#27 - February 11, 2013, 02:27 PM

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What I am confused about is this: so AGG might be in the public domain, but a current, copyrighted edition of the work is not, right? What I mean is that, even though the text of AGG is public domain, that does not mean that a recent Penguin version of AGG, for example, is public domain and that you can specifically use that Penguin version to copy from, right? Doesn't your source material for the text need to be public domain as well? If so, where do you find the source material? I suppose that cannot be traced, but this question was bugging me.

I wonder about this too. It must surely be the original work? But how a person goes about finding that and confirming that it is, I have no idea,

I agree re rewrites of classics too - if they're good, they're good! And if, say, AGG was only one book and someone had recently written the sequels where Anne gets married and so on... Well, I'd love that re-writing author!!
#28 - February 11, 2013, 02:51 PM

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I've gotta say -- even though that's not very different than what I was talking about earlier, with imprints like Barnes & Noble publishing its own line of classics at a lower price than the versions offered by other publishing houses, the idea of a self-publisher doing this for money really rubs me the wrong way.

Why? Unless I'm misunderstanding, imprints like those of Barnes and Nobles are also making money off of this. (Not this exact book, of course, but the one they printed.)

Quote
I was under the impression that this self-published version did not change the story at all
contradicts
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some opportunist take advantage of the fact that many readers don't know public domain laws and won't understand how this version is different than one being sold by a major publishing house with an editorial staff.

If the text is the same text that was previously published, wouldn't it be text that has gone through a publishing house with an editorial staff?

I'm with you though--I would rather classics like this were handled by, say, a university.

I do have the same question about source material. Could be a legal headache down the road.
#29 - February 11, 2013, 03:01 PM

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Why? Unless I'm misunderstanding, imprints like those of Barnes and Nobles are also making money off of this. (Not this exact book, of course, but the one they printed.)

 I may sound like a big nerd to say this, but no, not all versions of a classic are the same and there may be a difference between, say, the B&N version and this self-published one. Even if the text is 100% the same, different versions are, well, different. One might contain a meaningful forward, or artwork, or footnotes. And it's not always safe to assume that the text is 100% the same. I've definitely read cheaper versions of classics that contain errors. It's common, I think. A reputable publisher with editorial integrity is the best bet to avoid a version with errors and know you are staying true to the source material. A Barnes & Noble version, even though if it is done with an eye towards being an income-maker, is probably accurate -- at least it has undergone editorial scrutiny by a professional editor. Whereas a version from a self-publisher could vary greatly. Maybe that self-publisher has tremendous integrity and love for the original text and is offering a beautiful edition. On the other hand, if that self-publisher just wants to make money fast, who knows how accurately s/he has presented the text? It could contain errors.

If the text is the same text that was previously published, wouldn't it be text that has gone through a publishing house with an editorial staff?

In theory, it should be the same text, but as I said above, it's not uncommon for new versions of classics to contain errors.

When I said I was under the impression that this version did not change the story, I meant that it didn't change it intentionally -- i.e. it's not a retelling of the story. It could certainly contain errors, omissions and typos, and at the very least, to me a book is a piece of art including the cover and I want to be proud to display it on my bookshelf. (Or, er...e-bookshelf?)

So I agree--I like my classics handled by a university, or a library, or at least a publisher who may be a commercial venture but nevertheless has strong values and a promise to be faithful to the original!
#30 - February 11, 2013, 03:44 PM
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 11:24 PM by Christine B. »

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