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.
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.
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.