Monday, June 9, 2008

PKD's LoA Volume Fastest Selling Ever

PKD's total pwnership of our culture has just begun. It turns out the Library of America's PKD volume has been the fastest selling ever! Galley Cat reports that PKD's volume has sold 23,750 copies. To compare, Jack Kerouac's edition sold around 15k, and Edmund Wilson's a little under 10k copies (teehee!). Galley Cat quotes a guy at the LoA as saying:

"When we first conceived our multi-volume and multi-year plan for a Philip K. Dick edition, we never dreamed that it would resonate so strongly with our readers. The closest comparison in terms of velocity of sales out of the gate would be our Grant and Sherman volumes, released in 1990 at the same time as the debut of Ken Burn's The Civil War on PBS. But even those volumes didn't sell as fast as has the PKD."

The second LoA volume from PKD comes out July 31. Reserve yours now at Amazon (or better yet buy the pulp editions in bulk on ebay - that's what I do).

Via Steven Hart's Blog
Thanks FP Kiesche III!

8 comments:

Robert Cook said...

This is great. Although a number of Dick's novels are uneven in quality, and a couple truly awful (Dr. Futurity and Vulcan's Hammer), it would be wonderful to see LoA republish ALL of Dick's novels in omnibus editions, and it's nice to fancy that continued strong sales might lead them to such a consideration. If they were able to do so, perhaps they could finish off the project with a slipcover to hold the collected volumes.

Is there anybody out there with pull at LoA who can suggest this to them?

jmj713 said...

I would love to have every single novel released in such hardcover omnibuses. I have the first volume already shipping from Amazon and the second on preorder. I wonder how feasible such a series would be. And how many volumes could it take?

pete said...

Look, I love PKD as much as anyone, and I read this blog whenever a new post arrives. But there's a LOT, at least half, of his stuff which just isn't good enough to warrant LOA inclusion. That doesn't mean that stuff isn't awesome and fun to read and important for Dickheads to get a load of - it just means that it ain't great literature by even the most forgiving standards.

I vote for two more volumes. Novels of the Seventies and Eighties: Maze of Death, Confessions of a Crap Artist, VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. And a Early Novels and Short Stories Volume, including Solar Lottery, Eye in the Sky, Time Out of Joint, and various short stories. Maybe another of the important non-sf novels could be included as well.

I don't mean to be a flamer AT ALL, Dick is my favorite writer. I just think it's good to be realistic about how crappy some of his books are. I just finished Friends from Frolix 8, and, um, it's not so hot.

jmj713 said...

Speaking of short stories, perhaps one volume could collect them all.

Robert Cook said...

Dick wrote far too many short stories for them ALL to be contained within one volume...Hell, years ago Underwood-Miller (an independent publisher) published THE COMPLETE STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK and it required five volumes. (Hard-cover, offered in a limited edition slip-covered set, of which I am a very pleased and proud owner.)This set has subsequently been published in a paperback edition, with awful covers and graphic design.

I agree that a good number of Dick's novels are, individually, not good enough to warrant LoA editions; however, as a body of work, his is a particularly unified achievement, and even his weaker books--the two I mentioned previously excepted--can be read with at least some enjoyment. This is why a series of omnibus editions would make sense: the stronger novels in each omnibus volume would justify the inclusion of the weaker novels, and the collected volumes would present interested readers with the opportunity to have all of Dick's novels at hand in one place.

I don't think this will happen, of course...I'm just wishing aloud. Perhaps it does make sense to just publish two (or maybe three) collections of Dick's very best novels.

Pantomime Horse said...

The prices are excessive IMO but I think all of PKD's short stories plus a few novelettes are available as ebooks with each item sold seperately. Some of the novels are also available with more to come. http://ebookstore.sony.com/author/423/71/42371.html. You have to download and install some software to read the proprietory format they are in from this site and it may only be available for PCs. Not sure how bad the DRM restrictions are. If you aren't familiar with the problems of DRM restricted ebooks read up on it before buying any.

Google Philip K. Dick ebooks for other sources that may not be as complete but should have more formats to choose from. Always read up on the formats, software necessary to read them and platform/OS compatability, DRM restrictions before purchasing ebooks. Most of the DRM schemes can restrict where you read your purchased book (e.g., only on the computer you downloaded to)and can make it possible for you to lose the ability to read the book despite owning it (e.g., reformat your hard drive, put a backedup ebook onto it and you may find are prevented from reading it because your "license" doesn't work now).

Policies and formats vary by source but I suspect all or most purchasable PKD ebooks/etexts will have DRM restrictions.

Still, if you can't get something elsewhere, need to use large fonts because of poor vision or need text2speech (make sure a format supports that feature if you need or want it)or just really like ebooks this is something to look into.

BTW, The Collected Short Stories in 5 volumes was published in both the US and UK with some minor variations of which stories were in each volume and the titles of the volumes due to differing publishing dates and movie tie-in decisions IIRC.

One advantage of having PKD in ebook is that you can keep it all organized and easily available even if you are horribly lacking in book space for physical books. I don't find the reading experience as satisfying as paper books though. And, of course, I can't read him in the old magazines unless I literally read the old magazines which I have many of. I think reading PKD in the context of the original magazine publications is very helpful in understanding the context of the SF field in which he was writing at various times. Plus the mags have a number of other good things to read by other authors.

Pantomime Horse said...

Forgot to mention that ebook proprietary formats have a history of disappearing as companies go out of business, change ownership or whatnot. If you need special software it's wise to download multiple copies of the .exe file to back up outside the hard drive. If you need special hardware to read outside the desktop, don't assume it's going to be available if you need a new "reader" sometime in the future. Seek ebooks in open formats without DRM when possible. IIRC Baen is one of the publishers that has them because of a philosophy that DRM discourages ebook desirability and more importantly that most readers will choose to buy a reasonably priced dependable ebook rather than just hunt out a bootleg copy anyway.

Also, such ebooks can be purchased as gifts for other people and work on their computers. A while ago my girlfriend's sister bought her an eBirthday Card, sent it to her by email attachment and it was useless because it would only work on the computer it had been downloaded to; not an enticement to buy from that company again!

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