Though I’d heard about Bello Books a while back, I’d only recently taken a more serious look. I’ve now got a couple of their ebooks on my iPad now, and plan to give them a read soon. But it also reminded me that this is actually a really good thing that Bello are doing. There’s a blog post on the Digitalist from back in February that summarises a lot of what I’ve been thinking recently:
Without the rise of ebooks in the last few years, it would be much more difficult for authors like Pamela Hansford Johnson, Vita Sackville-West and Andrew Garve – to name just three – to be rediscovered and enjoyed. The same hard work went into publishing these books as did The Great Gatsby, and we’re committed to preserving that legacy for the future – retaining the text as published originally, just changing the format a little to suit the digital age.
Seriously, that’s something important. Most of the discussion surrounding ebooks has been people going on about ebook prices or DRM. But what about creating an archive of great quality publications that will last as long as the publisher remains in business, or even longer.
There’s something quite sad about seeing backlist and out of print books being forgotten about in all the razzmatazz of modern publishing, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Digitalising these lost classics will ensure that copies exist, potentially, for decades, and available in a nicely scanned and proofread format. Of course they charge for it – they’re a business after all – but I love seeing deeply obscure titles become commercially viable once again. It also ensures that, for those who enjoy finding obscure writers, there’s a market out there for them as well as those seeking frontlist stars.