Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Delphi's Complete Works of L. Frank Baum e-book

I don't often review (or buy) e-books, but as I was looking to add digital versions of books in my library to my phone for convenience's sake (and also because I'm packing up my library), I came across one that sounds as if it needed some closer examination. Claiming to be the Complete Works of L. Frank Baum for $3 on Amazon or $4 on Google Play or direct from the publisher.

Well, what does the publisher say about the collection?
For the first time in print or digital publishing, Delphi Classics is proud to present the complete fictional works of master storyteller L. Frank Baum. This monumental eBook offers hundreds of beautiful illustrations, lost works, informative introductions and the usual Delphi bonus material.
How does that hold up? Well, here's the table of contents.

Wow, that's pretty impressive! And well, it does contain all of his novels. The best way to navigate is to go through this table of contents and each novel contains its own table of contents. Some of the ones I haven't seen in e-book form before do seem to have some typos. Here's what you don't get, though: A New Wonderland (The Magical Monarch of Mo before it was revised, it contained at least one different chapter), and the new ending chapters of Aunt Jane's Nieces in the Red Cross added for its 1918 revision.

But wait, aren't there more plays that Baum wrote that still exist? Yes, the script for Ozma of Oz (eventually revised and produced as The Tik-Tok Man of Oz) is actually already online and the script for The Woggle-Bug exists in the Library of Congress. There are also a number of shorter plays Scott Andrew Hutchins put on his now-offline (but Archived) site. So, this is a section that could be expanded. (Also, the complete script for The Uplift of Lucifer is out there.)

So, what about the short stories? They have two tables of contents, one chronological, one alphabetical. (There's also a similar one for the poems.)

So, it seems we're losing the introductions for Animal Fairy Tales and Mother Goose in Prose here. Strange. Also, the recently-discovered short story "John" (published in the Baum Bugle) doesn't appear. And, of course, "Chrome Yellow" doesn't appear. (You can't get that anywhere, thanks, Baum Trust.)

There is, however, one item that causes me some consternation. "The Queer Visitors from Oz." Does that title sound familiar? Well, as I'm the one who compiled that collection, it should. It's an import of an e-book manybooks.net made of my digital collection on an old version of my website. It has no table of contents and this means that The Woggle-Bug Book is included in this compilation twice. (I've since compiled a better version with a working table of contents in both HTML and EPUB. It is not online, though.) Even more strangely, some of my captions for pictures on my site made it into the text! Also, there's no note that I edited the "What Did The Woggle-Bug Say?" answers into the story.

Okay, so what about poems?

Well, that's pretty nice, though I know the next Baum Bugle will contain a never-before seen poem by Baum, so it's incomplete, but we can't quite call foul here since the publishers had no access to it before.

As for illustrations? No, the illustrations aren't complete. Not every book has illustrations, and not even all of the illustrated books have all the illustrations. The main point of e-books is retaining the text, and a complete set of images for all of Baum's work would result in a massive file.

Finally, perhaps songs would be out of the scope of an e-book collection, but I know, Baum had written many songs for plays and otherwise. While I imagine it wouldn't be ideal to include the sheet music, at least having the lyrics would have been nice.

Overall, though, while I've pointed out that this collection is not complete, it is still a massive selection of Baum's works in a fairly easy to access format. For only $3 or $4, I'd say what is there would make it ideal for anyone wanting to add Baum's works to their e-reader.

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