Thorne Smith Ebooks
One of our friends/readers Sonya Lenzo recently asked about the availability of Thorne Smith ebooks while another, Lyle Johnson inquired as to whether Thorne Smith’s novels were still under copyright. Both are great questions which I will answer, starting with the copyright one because it will lead perfectly into the topic of Thorne Smith ebooks.
In the United States, nearly all of Thorne Smith’s books are still protected under copyright law. I know that in some countries the copyrights have expired, which led to some less than stellar copies of his books appearing for sale on Amazon.com and other places.
I must say that I do not recommend buying those books for the following reasons:
- Thorne Smith’s heirs receive no money from these unauthorized books.
- The quality is not up to par. Often you are paying for a poorly photocopied version of a previously published version of the book.
- These cheap knock-offs are slapped together with no concern for the legacy of Thorne Smith and offer nothing new to readers by way of cover artwork, essays, introductions or supplemental material.
- The Thorne Smith ebooks online are no better. I’ve even seen them listed as written by Jason Thorne Smith. These people do not care at all about Thorne Smith or his legacy. They are simply out to grab a quick buck without offering any true value in return. Anyone with minute to spare could look online and learn that James Thorne Smith, Jr. was Thorne’s full name.
So, what is a Thorne Smith fan to do?
I recommend buying the Modern Library editions of Topper, Topper Takes A Trip, and Night Life of The Gods. These were published in 2000 and can still be found on Amazon.com and through bookstores. These are authorized editions, with a wonderful essay written by Carolyn See, and have new cover art fitting of an official Thorne Smith release.
As for the other novels that are no longer in print, I recommend supporting your local used bookstores where you can sometimes find the great paperback editions published in 1980 by Del Rey, with original covert art by Norman Walker (no relation). Also, you might find a hardcover or two from the Sun Dial Press re-printings in the 40’s or even the old but adorable Pocket Book editions that appeared throughout the 40’s.
You can try your hand at Ebay as well but I must caution you that there are some uninformed and unethical folks who try to charge far too much for a Thorne Smith first edition when in fact they usually are not selling a true first edition. This is why I am working on a collector’s guide for Thorne Smith fans called “How To Collect Thorne Smith First Edition Books On Ebay & Amazon Without Getting Ripped Off.”
A final word on the Thorne Smith ebook topic: Last year I contacted the agency which represents Thorne Smith’s family and attempted to make an offer for the rights to publish all of Thorne Smith’s novels in ebook format with new introductions, photos, and additional materials most Thorne Smith fans have never seen. I’ve had an excellent relationship with them for over a decade now. Unfortunately I was outbid by a large publisher who is going to be releasing the Thorne Smith catalogue in the future in ebook form. I’m not at liberty to reveal their name but I am attempting to persuade them into hiring me to provide the materials I had planned to publish had I won the rights.
So, I do not recommend buying any Thorne Smith ebooks as of this writing because there will be far better editions published in the near future. Additionally, I am proceeding with my plans to publish some of his early work that has fallen out of copyright, which will contain additional materials never before published.
I hope that answers Sonya and Lyle’s questions. If you ever have any Thorne Smith questions, feel free to post a comment anywhere on this blog and I’ll do my best to answer you.
Thanks for reading!