Friday, April 08, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Elmore Leonard Reader -- Elmore Leonard

There are those who would argue that this isn't a real book. We'll just ignore them.

Back in 1982 or 1983, Avon published this 96-page book of excerpts from six of Leonard's novels in an obvious attempt to coax readers into buying the full versions. Each excerpt is preceded by a few quotations from reviews.

I remember seeing stacks of these little books on the check-out counters of places like Waldenbooks (remember them?) in nearby malls. Naturally I picked one up, and the other day, I happened to run across it. I sat down and read a few of the excerpts. My favorite is from Split Images, because that book, while not one of Leonard's best-known, has a swell opening paragraph.

After I read the excerpts, I checked out the prices for the books on Abebooks. I wish I'd picked up a handful instead of just one.


Todd said...

But might it have been 1983? Almost any remotely interesting freebie or giveaway like this seems to be a good bet to become at least a warm commodity later on, it seems...WaldenBooks? Weren't they that first threat that was driving all the independent bookstores out of business? Dying not quite with a bang, but with a BordersExpress closure...

Bill Crider said...

Thanks, Todd. I fixed the dates.

K. A. Laity said...

You know, this is even easier in a digital version. I put up first chapters on Scribd and other places. Maybe I should do up a "book" size compilation of freebies. Hmmm.

So, did this boost Leonard's profile? Is this when he hit mainstream? Or was that already happening?

Bill Crider said...

It was already happening, but this might have been part of the big push that helped him break through to really big sales.

Richard R. said...

No Todd, I'd say it was - at least on the west coast - Pickwick Bookshops when they expanded into a chain, then Brentano's, then Waldenbooks (they bought out Pickwick here). In the malls, Pickwick was the best, still looked, smelled, acted like a "real" book store, always happy to get things for you, always willing to stock books if there were many requests, and willing to get forthcoming books, call you when they came in, gift wrap all year around, carry lots of books and not half a store of best sellers and the other half remainders and calendars & nicknacks. Brentano's wasn't too bad either, but the shift was already apparent. I personally liked Crown Books, the prices were great and the stores smaller and more person-friendly. The local manager knew me by name and went our of her way to get things I wanted, even if they weren't on "the List".

No, Bill, I don't consider this one a real book.

Oh and my FFB is up, though it's late.