Roderick ‘Rocky’ Stinehour is a very pleasant, accomplished gentleman from Vermont. He’s also recognized internationally as a printer of high repute and a designer of beautiful, scholarly books. His career spans over much change in printing technology and the way in which books are produced and distributed. In 1950, after graduating from Dartmouth College, he, along with his wife and brother, established The Stinehour Press in the village of Lunenburg, Vermont.
From modest beginnings the Press flourished thanks to persistence, vision, and the ability to attract skilled passionate co-workers; due to the quality of its books, the company will long be remembered as one of America’s finest scholarly publishers.
I visited Rocky in the ‘Northeast Kingdom’ recently. Listen here to our conversation
Crow Alights by Ted Hughes
Crow saw the herded mountains, steaming in the morning.
and he saw the sea
Dark-spined, with the whole earth in its coils.
He saw the stars, fuming away into the black, mushrooms of
the nothing forest, clouding their spores, the virus of God.
And he shivered with the horror of Creation.
In the hallucination of the horror
He saw this shoe, with no sole, rain-sodden,
Lying on a moor.
And there was this garbage can, bottom rusted away,
A playing place for the wind, in a waste of puddles.
There was this coat, in the dark cupboard,
in the silent room, in the silent house.
There was this face, smoking its cigarette between the dusk
window and the fire’s embers.
Near the face, this hand, motionless.
Near the hand, this cup.
Crow blinked. He blinked. Nothing faded.
He stared at the evidence.
Nothing escaped him. (Nothing could escape.)
"Among British poets, Hughes is the most haunted inheritor, from Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves, of the sensibility shaped by the appalling slaughter in World War I. His father was gassed in the trenches in that war; growing up in its aftermath, Hughes has come to see the cosmos as a battlefield. His is the world-view of a betrayed Fundamentalist, who, discovering that God has no care for man’s fate, understands the universe to be governed not by divine love but by power. In Hughes’s earlier books, Nature appeared as a field of violent struggle where only the fittest survived. Such Darwinian determinism required its own unforgiving theology. These views of life are not meliorated in Crow. With a startling, composite myth, Hughes explores our fate in such a universe."
from Daniel Hoffman, A review of Crow, in New York Times Book Review, April 18, 1971, pp. 6, 35-6
Summarized from Mr. Wikipedia for you by me:
Privishing refers to the process of technically publishing a book without really publishing it. It’s printed in such small numbers or with such lack of marketing, advertising /sales support/enthusiasm that the book may as well never have been published in the first place. Said book is virtually impossible to obtain through normal channels, often can’t be special-ordered and is very seldom reprinted.
In short, when a book is privished it’s "killed".
Technical adherence to the terms of the publishing contract yes, but no more. Print-runs and marketing/sales budgets of controversial books will be slashed if a Publisher feels that promoting it will adversely affect business.
Privishing can be seen as a form of censorship too, particularly when it occurs in response to pressure from an irate author, or whomever. Threats of legal action or complications involving parent companies are often cited as reasons for privishing. Privishing also happens when there’s a true lack of interest in a title, a change of direction for the publisher or in some cases where a key editor on the title resigns.
Because only a few books a year can be big successes publishers typically put their money and efforts where they’ll get the most back. If a book doesn’t generate early interest from key outlets, such as large department stores, then it will probably be left to flap in the wind.
The size of an advance paid for a book can also determine whether or not a book is privished. If a publisher sinks big coin into a book then it’s likely to put at least enough money into sales/ promotion to at minimum earn the bread back. Books with low advances are killed with little publisher pain.
Privishing is a self-fulfilling prophesy: as initial sales efforts are subtly reduced, interest wains, marketing and sales efforts lose their priority. The author has no way to independently verify this and so can’t know if his title has been purposefully killed or not.
Books have a very short time frame during which to make an impact with the buying public, it’s almost impossible to determine the source of failure for a particular title, as a result, privishing has rarely been prosecuted in court.
Novellas Jacob’s Hands (1998)
I’ve been checking Huxley prices online during the past week against the Ahearn’s Book Collecting 2002 prices, and they appear to be down about 30%. This doesn’t seem to hold for Auden…despite this, I continue to believe that, depending upon the author, NOW remains, as bookseller Steve Lopez put it several years ago, a golden age for both new and used book buyers.