Most books disappear in the end, don’t they? They fall apart, get lost, get stolen, get burnt, get lent (but the borrower “forgot to” blah blah blah), or end up sold secondhand, or recycled in the green bin, or nibbled away by the dreaded silverfish, or countless other ways that a book might vanish from your shelves. And that, you might think, would be the end of it.
Books also disappear as titles in publishers’ catalogues. They become “OUT OF PRINT” (“O.O.P.”), or “OUT OF STOCK INDEFINITELY”, “REMAINDERED”, “PULPED”.
Take a fairly typical Irish book publisher, the O’Brien Press (est. 1974). It boasts on its website that
nearly half the books we have published are still in print – that’s more than 750 titles, with over 300 also available as eBooks.
But that same statistic implies that over half its titles have gone out of print during the same half century. Such is the nature of the business.
Or at least was the nature until the start of this century. Nowadays digital technologies have resuscitated many a title that was long out of print. The additional cost is relatively small, what with scanners and OCR software and “on-demand” printing (the tiniest of print runs), or direct conversions into eBooks.
Over the years I’ve scoured a plethora of secondhand bookshops and charity sales for certain relatively rare out-of-print Irish books. And here are three of them, all recently resurrected, all in splendid new editions. Bear them in mind if you need to spend a book token…