Dr. Seuss's out-of-print titles spark curiosity among book buyers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Dr. Seuss's out-of-print titles spark curiosity among book buyers

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steven Senne
March 28, 2021 - 6:30 AM

It’s been nearly a month since six Dr. Seuss titles were taken out of print, and the stores that carried them across the valley have been cleaned out.

Most second-hand shops said goodbye to the titles with illustrations deemed racist and culturally insensitive within hours of the March 2 announcement they're going out of print, selling them for the price they demanded. 

“We had people calling the day the news came out, first thing in the morning, and we had to set them aside for customers, and sold them for the price they were listed,” Janet Dedinsky, a sales employee at Ted’s paperback in Kelowna said.

“I haven’t read them myself, but they weren’t common ones that were in the store.”

Dedinsky said they sold for the price they would have always sold for — very little.

Similarly, at Mad Hatter books in West Kelowna, Maurice Breault continues to field inquiries.

“I have a lot of people looking for these copies, and I tell them what I just told you — they’re not that rare,” he said, indicating he’s more excited about books that are hard to come by. 

“What is rare are first edition, first printings.”

Even those, he said, can be in abysmal shape and not worth buying. He recommends that anyone who’s interested in some second-hand books, either as a collector or as a reader go to abebooks.com and then you can get a good idea of what they’re worth.

There are a few of the out-of-print titles listed among the priciest books, though they don’t even make the top 10 Dr. Seuss offerings. And there are plenty of cheaper ones as well.

A first edition of 'I ran the Zoo', can be found well down the list of titles for $9,500.

That said, if you have one, don’t think you have a goldmine in your hands. Breault said that even when he’s come across very expensive titles, the market for such things isn’t in the Okanagan.

“The internet is the great equalizer,” he said, adding that he sold some first edition Lewis Caroll titles when the pandemic first hit and he had to shutter his shop. Despite their high value, he resold them for a mere $1,000 to a Manhattan book lover.

While most bookshop owners and employees we spoke to balked at the idea of hiking up the price of the out-of-print Seuss, there’s one notable exception.

The Penticton Value Village had some copies and they’d priced them at $150 apiece.

When called, they said they had stopped selling them. No word on whether they had sold.

Kelowna’s Value Village didn’t have any and neither did the store in Kamloops.

The books taken out of print included “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”,  “If I Ran the Zoo” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

“Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.

We are committed to action. To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalogue of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the (aforementioned titles),” reads the statement from Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalogue represents and supports all communities and families.”

Although there were concerns about cancel culture being an issue, the books are still in circulation and accessible through a variety of means.

Publishing companies regularly review their titles and sales to determine and reassess print runs. It's a normal and necessary part of making space for new publications, and maintaining ideal profit margins.

Some of Dr. Seuss's work from his time before garnering fame has also been derided for reflecting tired and out-of-date racist views. The library of the University of California, San Diego and the Springfield Library and Museums Association have them in their historical collections.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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