Pet Book 7: Reprinting

This week’s topic was difficult for me because it has been hard finding information about the publication history of Arctic Explorations in general, much less the reproduction history. Arctic Explorations was first published by Childs & Peterson. I’ve found an obituary of George William Childs from Publisher’s Weekly in 1894 that explains the foundations of the company:

At the age of twenty-one…he entered into partnership with his father-in-law as a book publisher…The firm hit upon some phenomenally successful books, partly owing to the timely material and in great measure to Mr. Childs’ fine art in advertising…Dr. Kane, who had just returned from his heroic search for Franklin, had decided to write the story of his undertaking for scientists only, but at Mr. Childs’ suggestion he wrote up his “Arctic Explorations” in a popular vein, and the book achieved so great a success that Dr. Kane was paid $70,000 on the copyright. (307)

George William Childs went on to buy the Philadelphia Public Ledger which quickly became very successful as a newspaper. Somehow, I can’t find much more information about the publishing company itself, other than in other books about GW Childs since he was quite rich and famous. So I’ll leave it at that. One thing I found really funny in my search was that the Wikipedia article for GW Childs describes the company as publishing “useful if unexciting titles that reached a broad market.” (As a side note, the Wikipedia page cites Tebbel’s History of Book Publishing and Corner’s Doctor Kane of the Arctic Seas to say that Childs was the first book publisher to use the “blurb” endorsements by other famous persons and he conceived the notion of the author’s book tour, which I thought were interesting possible-facts though they aren’t directly related to this week’s topic.)

While I can’t find direct evidence that Arctic Explorations or sections of it were reproduced in newspapers, I think the publisher’s (very influential) connection with a newspaper could indicate that it was reproduced in specifically the Public Ledger, but he also owned the copyright. In addition, I haven’t seen any indication that it was extensively reprinted and reissued much after the first few editions/printings. A lot of the stuff I’ve read about GW Childs has mentioned his advertising expertise, so I have a feeling that we’re probably more likely to find advertisements in newspapers around the country for the book that include excerpts of the text that were purposefully sent out rather than picked up anonymously by newspapers. But that is, of course, just a hunch—I have no solid evidence either way. If I had the resources to do more digging through newspapers of the time to find passages from this long book, I think it would be really interesting to find out if my theory is right.

One aspect that could be really easy to find in other contexts are some of the images. While most of the intaglio prints were very specific to the novel, I have a feeling that if the relief engravings were retained by Childs as he transitioned to newspapers, I could imagine that he could have had them used in his newspapers. As evidenced by the Women Writers Project, images are much more difficult to gain rights to, so I would imagine that if he did retain them he would want to use them (although possibly the actual printers kept them rather than the publisher?). I think that would be another field that would be interesting to look more into regarding this book and its profuse amount of images.

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