Thursday, March 15, 2012

White Edition Wednesday - OFFSPRING

Last week we looked at the "white edition" of Glinda of Oz so we have now examined all fourteen of L. Frank Baum's Oz books as redesigned by Oz scholar and illustrator Dick Martin.

As we've already seen, Reilly & Lee promoted the series pretty heavily. They issued a handsome counter-top poster, distributed bookmarks, published a new edition of the Ozmapolitan newspaper, issued a pair of full-color Oz maps in 1968, and produced at least two different full-color flyers.I had meant to include scans of the advertising flyers this week but time has run out. The blog must be posted!  So you'll get them next week. 

The Weekly Reader Book Club issued a boxed set of seven "white editions" called The Treasury of Oz. I've not found an original advertisement for this set, and the books one finds in these boxes are usually random. But at least one box claiming to be "as issued" contains the seven titles shown at right. The first seven Baum books (Wizard through Patchwork) do not seem to fit. Perhaps Reilly & Lee was getting rid of overstocked titles? Or perhaps giving the kids a "sampler" of seven random Oz titles encouraged kids to complete the series and buy the other seven at full price.

Did any of my readers buy this boxed set from Weekly Reader back in the day? Does anyone have a date for this set or any promotional material?

The "White Edition" Legacy

Dick Martin's redesign of the books has spread far beyond the original "white editions." In 1971 the Rand McNally company began issuing the books in paperback versions with contents essentially identical to the hardcovers. These were originally priced at only $1.50 compared to Reilly & Lee's $3.95 hardcover asking price. The first batch from Rand McNally included the first five Baum books plus Tin Woodman. Over the next several years Rand McNally added a couple titles per year, eventually publishing twelve of the books (at left). For unknown reasons they never issued Rinkitink and Lost Princess in this format.

The Rand McNally paperbacks were how I first saw the "white editions," and these were the first Oz books I ever owned. I saw a big table stacked high with them at the Bellas-Hess Department Store in Albuquerque and convinced my mom to buy me all six then and there. I remember the day very well, and The Road to Oz (at right) was the first Oz book I ever read by myself (though I had heard many of the Baum books read aloud by my second grade teacher earlier that year). 

While no library bindings of the Reilly & Lee "white editions" are known to exist, copies of the Rand McNally "white edition" paperbacks were issued in hardcover library bindings. It's curious that it's the Rand McNally versions that got the library binding as one would think the stitched bindings of the Reilly & Lee hardcovers would be more durable. Perhaps the $1.50 price-point tipped the scale.

Rand McNally Library Edition

In 1974 Hutchinson Books in the United Kingdom published British editions of four of the "white edition" books (at left). These are very similar to the US editions, but the covers are glossy paper-covered boards with slightly modified cover designs. Bienvenue & Schmidt state the these books are smaller than the "white editions," but, in fact, they are both taller and thicker than the US versions, though the boards are a bit narrower horizontally, measuring only 6 - 3/8".

The books also replaced the text from the "Famous Oz Books" ad with new introductions specific to each title. I'll blog one of them later in the week so you can see what they're like.

Hutchinson U.K. edition of LOST PRINCESS

Scholastic Book Services published small size paperback versions of two of the "white editions," Ozma and Magic. The Scholastic Ozma (published September 1975) is especially interesting as the editor improved Dorothy's grammar by eliminating all of her baby-talk contractions. I s'pose someb'dy had to do it.

Scholastic Paperback Editions

In 1978 Reilly & Lee's parent company, Henry Regnery/Contemporary Books Inc., decided to cease publication of their hardcover "white editions" and to reissue them as trade paperbacks (at left). Evidence would indicate that they pulled the paperback rights away from Rand McNally, who immediately put all of their paperbacks out of print, except for Wizard and Land which were in public domain. Rand McNally kept these two in print for several more years.

When these new Reilly & Lee trade paperbacks were published they no longer bore the Reilly & Lee imprint. They were issued under the Regnery imprint (though some copies bear the Contemporary Books/CBI imprint instead). You can read my detailed account of these books by clicking here.

These new paperbacks were much smaller and the Dick Martin covers were redrawn in a slightly simpler fashion, including some subtle changes to the cover lettering.

Regular "white edition" at left; CBI paperback at right.

Regnery/CBI had only issued seven of the baby "white editions" when they struck a deal with Del Rey Books who wanted to reissue the Oz books as rack-sized paperbacks aimed at the adult fantasy market. At the time this drove me into fits. All of a sudden Oz books weren't in the juvenile section at B. Daltons and Waldenbooks, but classified instead as "Science Fiction." In many ways I still think the Del Rey deal contributed to a whole lost generation of Oz fandom. In any case, Regnery/CBI put their trade paperbacks out of print and that ended Reilly & Lee's connection to the Oz series.

The Del Rey Oz books were first published in 1979. Until I began work on this blog series I hadn't noticed that the Del Rey editions' interiors were created from Dick Martin's "white editions." While the text has been reset and the pictures are much smaller, the Del Rey versions include almost all of Dick Martin's new illustrations and rearrangement of existing illustrations, such as Martin's new line art drawings of the color-plates from Dorothy and the Wizard and the Kabumpo illustrations in Glinda.

Around 1981 a set of Oz books was issued by the Canadian bookseller and publisher Coles Books. Coles issued most, if not all, of the fourteen Baum titles in a paperback format nearly identical to the little Regnery/CBI versions. The covers are a little different, as they have been given decorative red tabs at the top and bottom, as seen on the Coles edition of Tik-Tok (at right). This Canadian Tik-Tok is also interesting as they did not completely keep Dick Martin's wraparound design. The back cover does indeed show Hank and the harness but the wagon hardware does not wrap around the spine.

For the record, Coles also issued an oversize hardcover version of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz using the original 1907 edition as source material. It included the sixteen color plates, making this the first edition of Dorothy and the Wizard with color illustrations since 1935.

Some Things We've Learned

I'd like to be able to say we've learned a bit about how to date certain of Reilly & Lee's various printings of the "white editions," but, alas, Reilly & Lee has made it very difficult. The earliest copies list all forty Oz books and later copies list only the Baum fourteen. The earliest "Famous Oz Books" ad spells out forty - however, there are variants that reset that paragraph to say fourteen, and then they re-typeset the copy in that paragraph completely, simply calling them "the famous Oz books." This would seem like a clear progression, but at some point Reilly & Lee reverted to an earlier set of printing plates and many late copies list forty Oz books all over again.

There are several very distinct versions of Wizard. Some have Denslow endpapers and some have Road endpapers. Also, the Kansas sequences are printed in chocolate brown in some copies and in gray in others.

Some reprints are printed on thinner paper and using slightly narrower boards resulting in the printed cloth not wrapping very well and making the design on front and back appear to be off-center. Alas, these variants seem to pop up in both very early and very late copies.

Most (if not all) of the books also come in variants where the original pale blue ink on the covers is a much darker process-blue. The pale blue is certainly what Dick intended, as the darker one throws off the color balance. Again, this press room choice seems to have happened several times both early and late.

This has been a very enjoyable sixteen weeks exploring these much-loved but little-discussed editions of the Oz books. Next week we will have one final installment. Two guesses where we're headed. Click here to find out!


Bill Campbell said...

I've never had a set of the seven book treasury, but I've assumed that the titles chosen were based on recognition and the MGM film - Wizard, Dorothy and Wizard, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman would all be familiar characters. Land, Road and Magic are easy catch words that could draw in readers. By this theory, Emerald City or Glinda might have been logical choices as well....Anyway, that's my theory!

Sam said...

Now I know why this extra 'White Edition Wednesday' Blog took some extra time to get up online: there's so much info.


It has been Great learning so much more about the Oz Books's variations and especially learning about the "white editions" I kept reading about, or see mentioned so often. And in a way that's not so confusing, either!

Thanks for all this and more!

Anonymous said...

In the future I really hope you do a blog posting on the 1979 Del Rey editions! These fantasy-market editions are the ones that hooked me into Oz in the 80s, and I am really interested in your take on these and learn the publishing history, illustrations, etc.

Loved the White Edition Wednesday series!

saintfighteraqua said...

I wonder why comments have changed on the blog? I can no longer have replies sent to my email. :(

Thanks for posting this, I look forward to next week!

J. L. Bell said...

We are the white-edition paperback generation. My main supplier was the Harvard Coop bookstore in Cambridge, Mass. I never got more than two or three at a time, though.

Jay said...

Thanks for the picture of the cover of the Scholastic Ozma of Oz. That was my first exposure to John R. Neill's Dorothy. I didn't recognize her! Too much MGM and Copelman for me at the time.

Scott Olsen said...

Using the illustration as a guide, how many can name the white editions that used the original spine illustration?

Patrick Quigley said...

I have loved this blog!! Seeing all the White Editions side by side with their spines takes me right back to my local library as a kid!!! They were the first Oz books I ever saw or read!

I have both Scholastic editions and did wonder why I could only find those two I know!

I do hope you blog on the Del Rey edition or at least the cover art....which I love!
Thank you for this blog, David!!

David Maxine said...

@Scott - since no one else has taken the bait I guess I'll answer. LAND, OZMA, ROAD (If you don't count that Dick Martin added the bow to Toto), EMERALD CITY, PATCHWORK GIRL, and GLINDA. The slightly tricky one is the spine illo from LOST PRINCESS which was the original spine illo for SCARECROW - but the wording of your question eliminated that one.

David Maxine said...

@Patrick - For the record at least two other Oz books were issued by Scholastic. I didn't mention them as they were not based on the white editions, but there are Scholastic editions of both WIZARD and LAND.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I found this quite interesting.. I had one of the sets of 7 as a child. My aunt gave it to me probably in 1965-66.. I had it for a few years until I came home from school one day & my mother had given them away. She decided I was too old for them and got rid of them. I would have loved to have kept them.

When I mention these books especially the white hard cover no one seems to remember them so it was great to learn about thehistory of these books.


Anonymous said...

I owned the one of the seven hardcover white treasury sets as a child. A teacher gave them to my grandfather who worked as a janitor in an elementary school after he retired from his construction business! I wish I wouldn't have thought I outgrew that set! My daughter would love them now! :)

Anonymous said...

I am 30 and I owned that 7 hardcover white set as well :) Seeing the picture of it sent chills through me!