Another Variation and Latest Book Purchases

It seems that the NCL is not lacking in variation covers. The inconsistency in design corresponds to its length of existence, that being over fifty years and counting, and its penchant for changing printing companies with each series or each decade. The main culprit is the Series Two covers. It seems the NCL went through two variations before settling in on the more common design that shows a portrait drawing of the author on the back cover (if a portrait photo existed of the author that could be used as a template).

The two variations used italic lower-case lettering for the author’s name, but even this was not consistent as some titles capitalized the first letter of the author’s first and last name. One variation used black lettering on the spine, the other used white. Here is the latest book I found that falls into the white-lettering variation with the more common example of the book below it:

Poets of the Confederation Variation

Poets of the Confederation Variation

Poets of the Confederation Cover

Poets of the Confederation Cover

As you can see the variation cover has white lettering on the spine and at the top of the front cover, there is no “N” above the numbering at the bottom part of the spine. Even the quote on the front cover changed. The early examples of Series Two books were not consistent in design as they eventually would become. And I’m coming across these variations frequently in my travels so the books are not scarce. We will see how many more I can find in the future.

This week has been a goldmine in finding NCL titles and their competitors. I found three more books in Forum House’s Canadian Writers and their Works, I added a Copp Clark Studies in Canadian Literature page to the site due to the fact I found two books in that series. I also found books in the Laurentian Library, New Press Canadian Classics, and Macmillan Paperbacks. But the biggest jewel to the crown was finding seventeen NCL books, including one of the twelve missing titles from Series One, and two poetry books from the “O” series in Series Two. See the picture below for all of the NCL books I purchased this week:

Purchases, Nov. 1st, 2014

Purchases, Nov. 1st, 2014

 

 

Welcoming Copp Clark Studies in Canadian Literature

Copps Clark Studies in Canadian Literature Charles G. D. Roberts by W. J. Keith cover

Charles G. D. Roberts

Around the time M&S were releasing their New Canadian Library Series Two Writers (1969-1970), Forum House, an imprint of Coles Book Publishers, began releasing Canadian Writers and Their Works, a series of books that Coles hoped would either steal some sales away from the NCL, or join the NCL in expanding the market for books of this type. Not to be outdone, Copp Clark, a company that has been around since 1841, publishing everything from books, to games, to flags and stationary, decided to jump into the fray with its Studies in Canadian Literature series.

The books came in a variety of colours and designs, they were thin like their NCL and Forum House competitors numbering around 100 pages. As with their NCL and Forum House counterparts, the books wrote about a well established and great Canadian author, his life and works, and a bibliography at the back of the book. Interesting to note, Copp Clark combined two authors into one book, for at least one of the titles (Sinclair Ross & Ernest Buckler).

Copp Clark Studies in Canadian Literature E. J. Pratt by Sandra Djwa cover

E. J. Pratt

The books began with numbering, at least up to five, but at some point they dropped the numbers and just put out the books with SCL on the spines. Writers included in the series that I know of are Charles G. D. Roberts, Brian Moore, Frederick Philip Grove, Morley Callaghan, Hugh MacLennan, Al Purdy, Margaret Avison, A. M. Klein, Earle Birney, E. J. Pratt, and Sinclair Ross & Ernest Buckler. Perhaps a reader of this blog can let us know if any others exist. To my count there are eleven books of twelve authors in the series.

Another Variation and Latest Book Purchases

Stephen Novik, a reader of this blog, mentioned in a comment on the Variations & Errors Page another variation that occurred in 1979. The book is NCL’s N44 title Sarah Binks by Paul Hiebert. It seems that the NCL had a tie-in with, or was capitalizing on, a play that ran in the early 70s, that was having a revival scheduled for the early 80s. The play was called The Wonderful World of Sarah Binks and starred great Canadian actor Eric Donkin. Donkin, the only actor in the play, took up the role of Rosalind Drool, a Sarah Binks enthusiast, and from what the reviews have said, the play was a great success.

The NCL book shows an image of Donkin in his role, and nothing on the cover indicates that the book is an NCL imprint. That is, according to Mr. Novik who own a copy, until you look inside and see the title page. Here is what Mr. Novik stated:

“I have a copy of Paul Hiebert’s “Sarah Binks” that nowhere on the front or back cover nor the spine suggests it’s a NCL edition. It is black with a b/w photo of actor Eric Donkin as “Miss Rosalind Drool” from a comic presentation entitled ‘The Wonderful World of Sarah Binks’, produced by Albert St. Productions of Stratford, ON. Only on the title page does it indicate its number (44). Included is an introduction by A. Lloyd Wheeler.”

I searched around and found an image of the front cover of the book in question:

Sarah Binks Play Tie-In Variation

That is Eric Donkin starring back at you as Rosalind Drool. Perhaps Mr. Novik could let me know if he could scan the front cover, spine, back cover, and inside pages up to and including the copyright page, so that we can see the important covers and pages as well.

If we move on to the books I have found over the last week or so, the image is below, they include a Series Two/Series Three Hybrid that I mentioned in my previous post A Series Two/Series Three Hybrid and four other books.

Purchases, Oct. 25, 2014

Purchases, Oct. 25, 2014

A Series Two/Series Three Hybrid

While out searching for books this week I went into a used bookstore owned by a friend of mine. I’m not one to buy NCL books from these establishments since titles are usually sold in the $4.00 to $8.00 range and I can find them elsewhere for between twenty-five cents and a dollar. But while talking to my friend I noticed an NCL book that looked quite interesting and would shed some light on the inner-printing world of the NCL.

Hazell, Watson and Viney Printers, England

Hazell, Watson and Viney Printers, England

When the NCL first started Malcolm Ross and Jack McClelland wanted a quality paperback rather than the usual cheap paperbacks you found in airports and book stands across Canada and the U.S. They wanted higher stock paper and better glue so the books would stand out on the shelves of book dealers. They decided to employ Hazell, Watson and Viney, a printing and publishing company from England, to do the printing for the Series One books.

When the redesign for Series Two began, M&S went in a different direction. To save money they hired a Canadian firm, T.H. Best from Toronto, and the paper stock and quality of the books fell.

For Series Three, M&S stopped using T.H. Best, and employed the service of Webcom Limited, a firm also from Toronto, and the quality of the books fell even more. The Series Two books looked ugly, the paper yellowed quickly, the covers chipped easily, but the gluing process was good enough that thousands of the books remain in circulation. With Series Three the same yellowing occurred but the gluing process was inferior. The glue dried-out quickly, became brittle and lost its adhesiveness. The covers detached from their spines and many of the books, if my difficulty in finding many of the titles is any indication, ended up in the trash.

During the transition from T.H. Best to Webcom, it seems that the latter company had a hand in the printing of some of the Series Two books. M&S changed the NCL logo from what it used for the Series One and Series Two books (a rectangular image with a white background and left-sided black border and right-sided coloured border (in red or beige or gold etc.) with a black “NC” inside) to a three-lettered black design with “NC” on top and “L” centered below.

I found, in my friend’s bookstore an NCL book with the overall Series Two design but with Series Three elements, especially on the spine. Here is an image of the variant, and its normal looking counterpart:

The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence Variation

The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence Variation Cover

The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence Regular

The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence Regular Cover

As you can see the Series Two design was still used for the Webcom variant but the spine has the Series Three design with the Series Three logo. It also has the M&S logo at the bottom of the spine instead of the usual numbering that you see with the normal Series Two books. The back cover kept the numbering at the top as per Series Two, but added the Series Three M&S logo at the bottom. You also see the use of ISBN numbering on the variant.

What all this tells us is that when M&S changed printing companies, they were still in the process of designing the Series Three books. The variant was printed mid-design change. Soon after, the regular Series Three books would be printed by Webcom and the Series Two design would be a thing of the past. Since we know Series Two numbered to 152, it wouldn’t be too surprising if we see some more of these variants out there especially in the later-numbered Series Two books that sold-out of the T.H. Best prints at around the same time as The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence.

 

 

Street of Riches & The Stone Angel: Series One No-Shows

It has been over a year since I began this website in order that the New Canadian Library, one of the most important imprints in Canadian literature,  would have its proper presence on the internet. Reading the library for the past 25 years, collecting it casually since the mid-nineties, and seriously collecting it for the past 2 years, there are two books that stand out as particularly hard to find, and noticeable enough among the hundreds of NCL books to be missed.

Street of Riches and The Stone Angel are not very difficult to find in any series in the library except Series One. In the series I am missing twelve titles, but only the two books mentioned have I not been able to find a copy being sold somewhere online or in my local used book stores.

Being one for bargain shopping, I have purchased the 56 Series One books I have for the price of a dollar or less, which leads me to think I can find the other twelve at a similar amount. Therefore I have supressed the urge to buy the missing titles for the crazy prices you find on sites like abebooks or ebay, especially when you include the shipping cost.

Series One Faux-Image

Series One Faux-Image

If you have perused NCL Collecting you have noticed that there is a menu item titled The Book Covers Project where I have put every book cover of every book from every series in the NCL. I have mostly completed every series except Series Two (at the time of this post it is about 80% completed and will be uploaded soon). When I come across a title I know exists, but is not in my collection, I look online to find it. When that proves fruitless, I create a generic faux-image of the series book and put it in its place. But this procedure although fun for me to create, is a poor substitute for the true image itself.

What I need is the covers themselves and since they are not to be found online I will ask the readers of this blog for help. Do you have either of these two books in Series One? Are you willing to scan the book and send me the image? If yes, leave a comment at the bottom of the post and I will contact you.

Your fellow NCL collector,

The Ignorant Intellectual.

 

 

A Missing Book?

The New Canadian Library totals 247 books in its main series (that is without including the “O” or “W” series), 248 if you decide to include Canadian Poetry: From the Beginnings Through the First World War which was added to the NCL in Series Four after the numbering of the books was removed. On this website that book is included in the “O” series without a number.

Of the 247 books there are some that are quite difficult to find. One that easily comes to mind is the Series One book The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. This book is very easy to find in every other series except Series One. I wrote a post on this back in September 2014 titled The Quandary That Is The Stone Angel. After doing a bit of research I found that book does indeed exist and was dumbfounded that such a popular book was so difficult to find.

Another book that matches the same description is NCL’s 176 title Laugh With Leacock. With the Margaret Laurence book, because it was added to the library back when Malcolm Ross was the editor, I could pull out my copy of New Canadian Library: The Ross-McClelland Years, 1952-1978 by Jane Friskney, which has all the publishing information of the NCL up to 1978, and see that the book was put out during the NCL’s Series One book cover era. But for Laugh With Leacock, this was not possible.

Laugh With Leacock was not added to the library until Series Three. Series One ended at number 68 and Series Two ended at number 152. Series Three ended at 196. Therefore number 176 was added when Series Three was in publication. The publication data of the Friskney book did not include any books from Series Three as Ross had left the editorship by that time.

Stephen Leacock is the most popular author in the NCL. He can be said to be the saviour of the NCL in its early days. Where many titles in the NCL were losses for its publisher (M&S) the Leacock titles sold well and kept the NCL afloat. Once the NCL became a staple in the Canadian publishing industry, the Leacock books did not have to bear such a burden. Other authors such as Margaret Laurence, Mordecai Richler, and Margaret Atwood would ensure the NCL sales were brisk. But Leacock titles continue to sell up to and including the present day. Therefore it has lead me to the conclusion that Laugh With Leacock should be one of the easier finds in Series Three in the secondary used market. But this is not the case.

While in search of NCL titles to add to my collection, I have found numerous Laugh With Leacock books. The two publishers that have issued this book over the last 100 years are Dodd, Mead & Company, and ironically McClelland & Stewart through their Canadian Best-Sellers Library. DM&C published the book back in 1913 and issued it in trade paperback form back in 1981. M&S included the book in its Canadian Best-Sellers Library imprint back in 1968. This would lead one to assume that M&S moved the book from its CBSL imprint over to the NCL once the CBSL books ran their course.

Dodd, Mead & Company's Laugh With Leacock Book Cover

Dodd, Mead & Company’s Laugh With Leacock Book Cover

But did M&S actually do this? I had no problem finding it in the CBSL imprint, in fact I have found the book numerous times and have two copies on my shelves at this present time. I also found the DM&C book at least twice with one copy remaining in my library. So why can’t I find the NCL title? If it was published, it came out in the mid to late 80s and therefore is a more recent title that the ones I have presently. I can find the two titles in my library online but not the NCL title.

Canadian Best-Seller Libray's Laugh With Leacock Book Cover

Canadian Best-Seller Libray’s Laugh With Leacock Book Cover

I am slowly reaching the conclusion that M&S made a blunder. The company had the intention to publish the title but never did. They listed the book in the catalogue pages at the back of the Series Three books but never actually issued the book. It is either that or they published it in a small number and made it difficult for people like myself to find it on the secondary market. Thinking that Leacock is always a good-sell, having a tiny number of Laugh With Leacock books seems unlikely, but you never can tell with M&S.

If anyone has this book let me know in the comments section below.

The Author Pages and Latest Purchases

Purchases, Oct. 5th, 2014

Purchases, Oct. 5th, 2014

It took a few weeks but NCL Collecting now has the complete list of every writer in the New Canadian Library. The 144 authors and editors now have their own page, portrait, biography and NCL book list. The Author Page is the place to start, it lists all the writers on one page and they link to their individual pages.

Unfortunately I could not find a portrait image for every author. The 20 that are missing will be added once I can find them. If any readers can help in this endeavor it would be appreciated and they can contact me by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.

In the couple of weeks since my last post, I managed to find six books (see the images at the top and bottom of this post).

Purchases, Oct. 19th, 2014

Purchases, Oct. 19th, 2014

A New Menu Item and Latest Purchases

The Authors Collage

The Authors Collage

If you have visited the site over the last couple of weeks you many have noticed a new menu item on the left of the pages. With some time on my hands, taking a break from uploading new acquisitions to my collection, and with an interest in expanding the site, I added The Authors to the menu. This will allow readers to see the total number of authors that are in the NCL as well as the number of books each author has in the library. As I create each individual author page to supplement the main The Authors page, you will see links on each of the series pages and each of the book pages that will direct you to the author page.

On each author page you will see a portrait image of the author, a short biography taken from one of their NCL’s books, and book list of every title the author has in the NCL. The titles will link to their corresponding book page on the site. I am about three quarters the way through all of the authors and should be finished within a week or two. Then I will link each author page in a loop so that readers can, if they choose to, jump from author page to author page in alphabetical order.

Once this task is completed, I will return to uploading all the books I have found since the last update. I am also continuing work on finishing The Book Covers Project with a focus on Series Two. This is a very time-consuming process as most Series Two books are in bad shape when I find them and therefore they must be cleaned up before they can be included. Otherwise the page will be full of substandard images. With over one hundred books in Series Two, you can imagine the amount of work involved.

During the time I have been working on The Authors, I have managed to find a good number of NCL books as well as books from the Macmillan Paperbacks series. You will see them added over the next few weeks. As for the NCL books I found, you can see the image below:

Purchases, Sept 24th, 2014

Purchases, Sept 24th, 2014

The NCL and CBC Books: The 100 Novels that Make You Proud to be Canadian

CBC Books: The 100 Novels that Make You Proud to Be Canadian

CBC Books: The 100 Novels that Make You Proud to Be Canadian

I was listening to CBC Radio a few weeks back and the host (I can’t recall his name) mentioned a list of books that relate somewhat to the New Canadian Library. The 100 Books that Make You Proud to Be Canadian is a way for CBC to promote Canadians to read Canadian books, which the NCL has been doing with its catalogue for the last 50+ years.

The Edible Woman

The Edible Woman

With over 200 books in the NCL the CBC list would be bound to include some titles from the library. As I mentioned on different areas of this website, the NCL does not include every great Canadian book, but it does include a lot of them. The CBC list shows how many great Canadian novels, especially recent ones, do not have an NCL affiliation.

Of the 100 books, only nine have made it into the NCL catalogue. Why so few? There are numerous reasons but the two most obvious are that most of the books in the CBC list are relatively recent, and therefore have not had the time to go out of print and targeted afterward for inclusion. The second reason is because many of the books are not under the umbrella of M&S and therefore gaining the rights to publish them would prove difficult.

Whale Music

Whale Music

It’s interesting that many books that are considered classics in Canadian literature are not included on this list. You would figure Canada’s best known and most respected novels would make this list. One easy example of this is Barometer Rising. Hugh MacLennan is one of Canada’s greatest novelists and Barometer Rising is his greatest book. If Barometer Rising doesn’t make you proud to be Canadian, I’m not sure what does. Selecting Alias Grace over The Edible Woman is another strange choice. For esteem and historical importance, not to mention that The Edible Woman is a watershed moment in Canadian feminist writing in fiction, The Edible Woman outshines Alias Grace for Canadian pride.

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers

With every list comes criticism and the category of pride is vague and wide open enough to lead to easy misunderstanding and massive interpretations but I think, overall, the list, if confined to whether the books are worth your time and attention, is dead-on; especially if you look at Canadian publishing over the last couple of decades. The books on the list compare extremely well with books published by American, British, or any other country’s novelists during the same time period. Canada has some of the greatest writers in the world and the list of novels shown by CBC Books easily proves this.

The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes

One hundred books is no small feat to read, if you tackle one a week it will take you almost two years to complete it. If I were to give recommendations on which books I found most enjoyable, I might be out of place since I have read about a quarter of them (28 to be exact). But in my limited knowledge, if I remove the NCL books on this list since those that read this blog, a blog on the NCL, would probably have those nine books on their reading list already, the following three books easily pop out. The Sisters Brothers, The Book of Negroes, and Whale Music. Lastly, The Handmaid’s Tale is also a book I quite enjoyed and is my number one pick of books that should have been in the NCL a long time ago.

The nine books from the NCL that made The 100 Novels that Make You Proud to Be Canadian are as follows:

1. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
2. A Season in the Life of Emmanuel by Marie-Claire Blais
3. Bear by Marian Engel
4. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
5. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock
6. Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson
7. Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan
8. The Double Hook by Sheila Watson
9. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

Latest Purchases Including the First Print On Demand Book

Purchases, Sept. 9th, 2014

Purchases, Sept. 9th, 2014

I usually write my weekly blog on the weekend or soon after. Since I am up to date on that end, there must be a reason that this post is coming quite early. The reason is that in my wanderings I finally came across the first Print On Demand book. You can see more details about these books in this post and this post. The NCL Essentials, the name given to the print on demand books by the marketing department at M&S, were books I had never seen in person until now.

Although the print on demand endeavor had a short lifespan, ebooks killed the market for these type of books, the NCL, according to my research, managed to sell thirteen titles before ceasing operations. See this page for the names of the titles. The one I found is pictured below:

NCL Essentials - The Tomorrow-Tamer

NCL Essentials – The Tomorrow-Tamer

At one time, I thought these books only existed on the internet, but I was convinced otherwise by correspondence with followers of this blog, employees and ex-employees at M&S/Random House of Canada, but having a copy in my hands is the best proof of all.

During my search I also came across a Series Six trade paperback which leads me to believe that perhaps these books aren’t as hard to find as I previously thought. I now think that, being previously unfamiliar with these books, I missed them while concentrating on the earlier series I recognized quickly on book sellers’ shelves. See the image at the top of this post for the books I found.