how many books are lost forever?

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how many books are lost forever?

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Sep 21, 2007, 7:03am

Is it possible, using careful scrutiny of publishers weekly and other zines, to determine the titles, author, et al of books that no longer exist almost anywhere? Has anyone, anywhere, tried to do this by year, decade, or other methodology?

I'm more than curious. I am part of a small press and am looking for quality material to republish that seems to have been ignored by most, if not all.

Sep 21, 2007, 12:26pm

Well, your method sounds like it could be very time-consuming and tedious. (Got any unpaid interns?) R.R. Bowker used to have something called "Books out of Print," but I just checked their website and the link goes to a page called So I dunno. Perhaps a better way would be to talk with librarians, literature and creative writing faculty, and others of that ilk to discover the forgotten gems. Quite often you'll find some now-obscure authors described as "writer's writers," and their books seem to be good candidates for reprint. Cases in point: everything by Richard Yates, Stoner by John Williams, The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant. Good luck!

Editado: Sep 25, 2007, 11:15am

If you want book recommendations that are out-of-print, I'm sure people could give you recommendations. :D

I know I could for fiction, if nothing else.

Sep 25, 2007, 12:49pm

Have you checked out the group: Reprint Please!

Sep 25, 2007, 3:12pm

Need the works be public domain?

Sep 25, 2007, 3:17pm

And I know that the folks over at Readerville tend to have some very strong opinions about works that they feel it's pretty much criminal to allow be out of print. You may want to re-ask the question there.

Sep 26, 2007, 9:36am

many thanks for the answers, guys. tis appreciated, especially the readerville thingie.

Sep 26, 2007, 10:36am

The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly is a list of known books that are gone, probably forever.

Oct 16, 2010, 3:19pm

The LOC (Library of Congress) might be your best place to ask that question. I compose research lists, which also might have websites that could help you answer that question. It also might be useful for you to pick a time limit; i.e., are you asking as far back as the Alexandrian Library,
circa 300 B.C.? I'd also like to see the answer to your question myself. JK

Editado: Feb 14, 2015, 12:21am

I'm retired from Professional Research. Not just at IBM, but in Adademic Research and Educational Research as well, and I would have to say "no". I don;t think that anyone has done that yet. However, you might find something like that, having been done, by exploring the websites on my Academic Research List . I make Jae Kamel's Urls (JKU) with my partner.

Feb 14, 2015, 12:20am

That Book Of Lost Books is one of the best lists of such things.

Feb 14, 2015, 12:12pm

I think that the reason there aren't lists of Out-of-Print Books is because, aside from the difficulty assembling such a list and keeping it up-to-date, they aren't all that useful any more.

For instance, the real question the OP wants answered is what books of quality (as they define it) are available for reprint. That means that they have to determine not so much whether the book is in print but whether the book is still under copyright, where it is under copyright, who is the copyright holder and does the copyright holder want it reprinted. That's a lot more complicated than whether the book is in print. There are a lot of books that aren't currently being published, where there is a publisher who has exclusive reprint rights and the author can't do anything about getting the book into print.

I hope that you're successful at getting things you like back in print, even if it's only in download form. It's a noble, if somewhat daunting, task.

Feb 14, 2015, 12:16pm