We all know that Hollywood is obsessed with remakes and sequels, and it seems that audiences are pretty OK with that since they keep going to see them. It’s a topic of hopelessness and distress for many enthusiasts who just want something fresh. And although many articles and blog posts have been written over the past decade and a half on the topic, it doesn’t seem like it’s about to change. We’re so used to it, in fact, that several news outlets picked up a fake story about the remake of Mrs. Doubtfire. We’re just that jaded.
The book industry doesn’t seem to be fairing much better, what with the Twilight and Fifty Shades appalling successes, but we’ll take what we can get and thank goodness because the movie industry seems to only get fresh ideas by adapting comics or novels these days. But what’s especially interesting has been a few recent turn of events like the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Not quite remakes, not quite re-releases, but a sort of blast from the past that nobody was expecting.
Which leads us to the big news today.
News is spreading online that an old Jules Verne novel, The Will of an Eccentric, was released yesterday by ATBOSH Media. This is as close as we could get to a brand new novel from the famed writer and it’s pretty dang exciting!
“But wait,” I’m sure some of my readers are saying. “I’ve see it at Steampunk conventions! Sure it’s rare, but it’s not new.”
Of course, it’s not a new release. We have the internet, after all, and with the rise of Steampunk and correlating modern popularity of Jules Verne, other editions of the book have been self published by various elements since 2008. According to its Wikipedia page, The Will of an Eccentric (originally published in France in 1899 and in England in 1900) was faithfully recreated in its magazine format, all 30 issues, with plates and everything. Then in 2009, Choptank Press put the book up for on-demand printing via Lulu.com. And if you look for it on Amazon, you’ll see somebody put a copy up via Amazon’s self-publishing service Create Space back in 2013.
So what makes the ATBOSH Media release so special?
It’s essentially a question of price versus quality. The original editions sell for thousands of dollars, as I’m sure you can imagine. The 2008 printing is pretty darn rare itself and I’m sure it costs a pretty penny as well. The Choptank Press release isn’t so bad… $70 for a nice edition with all the plates and everything. The copy on Amazon, though, is pretty terrible. It was put on Create Space by Kassock Bros. Publishing Company, which is infamous for taking copyright free works and putting them on Create Space for print-on-demand with little formatting, no editing, and for works that aren’t in English, running them through Google Translate first and then sending them off to print without as much as a glance at the text. And forget about the plates. This edition is $10 (about the cheapest Create Space books come) for something you should be able to get off of Project Gutenberg for free. Unfortunately, The Will of an Eccentric doesn’t appear to have made into Project Gutenberg’s database, so if you can’t afford the $70 copy then you’re stuck for quality.
ATBOSH Media has put the time and effort into creating a well edited, full edition of the Verne novel many of us never knew we wanted. From their press release:
“This Modern Edition is a scholarly work and not just a straight reproduction of the 19th century British edition. Modern means the reader won’t need a dictionary to search for obscure and obsolete 19th century terms (which most of the time were British choices for French words). When first published, the book contained many logical inconsistencies and continuity errors that have also now been resolved. As with any scholarly edition, all changes have been carefully documented and annotated. These changes, along with the correction of typos & translation errors create a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience that remains true to the Verne original.”
That’s pretty awesome. I mean, this is Jules Verne we’re talking about… he deserves to have a good treatment by publishers, and what’s better is how ATBOSH Media isn’t making changes as if the book has always been that way. By notating and documenting each change, they pay respect not just to Verne himself but also the historical significance of his work.
And the price? A very reasonable $25 for a print copy, or $10 for Kindle.
I’ll confess, I’m not a huge Jules Verne fan. I love his work, but I don’t devour his books two or three times a year like some people do. But I’m super excited to add The Will of an Eccentric to my small Verne collection, and I can’t wait to get around to reading it with my daughter.