Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Additions and Editions

A few recent purchases arrived in the mail. I'll be giving my immediate impressions of these books and why you should double-check item descriptions before you hit "buy".

On the 9th, I ordered three books via Amazon: William Patrick Day's Vampire Legends in Contemporary American Culture: What Becomes a Legend Most (2002), J. Gordon Melton's The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, 3rd ed. (2010) and Margaret L. Carter's Different Blood: The Vampire As Alien (2004). Day's book hasn't arrived yet, but the other two came yesterday.

Let's start with Melton's book. Just as I anticipated, the book injects a focus on Twilight. The success of that franchise has provided the book with it's very raison d'être. Here's what Melton has to say in his "Introduction":
The last edition came out in 1998, just as we realized that Buffy was going to be a hit. Now, sitting at the close of the first decade of the new century, this new edition can explore the Buffy phenomenon and its immense fallout fully. New entries discuss the vampire on television, the Twilight saga, romance novels, and vampire-related paraphernalia (xvii).
As I said here, there's nothing wrong with coasting the wave of contemporary vampire popularity. What matters, is how you utilise it. Fortunately, Melton's work transcends these trends and is invaluable to the vampire scholar, regardless.

This particular edition has been streamlined. For instance, the appendices in the second edition have been jettisoned. Instead, we jump from the last entry to a massive index (833-909). The "Sources" attached to the entries have been cleaned up. There are no colour pics.

Oh, and for those intending on citing the book in future: it has a 2011 copyright date. Yet, it was obviously published this year. So what gives? I've covered that here. Same applies to the second edition, which has a 1999 copyright date, but was actually published the year before.

Next up, Carter's Different Blood. I've only had the briefest flick through it, but going on her previous works, I suspect it'll be a goodie. I love books that survey specific angles of the vampire mythos. In this case, Carter focuses on depictions of the vampire-as-extraterrestrial. Yep, alien vampires. Here's the scoop from her blurb:
Different Blood surveys the literary vampire as alien from the mid-1800s to the 1990s, analyzing the many uses to which science fiction and fantasy authors have put this theme. Their works explore issues of species, race, ecological responsibility, gender, eroticism, xenophobia, parasitism, symbiosis, intimacy, and the bridging of differences.
Bet you didn't think you'd get all that from a bunch of books on vampires from space! I'm also chuffed that it's such a recurring genre staple, that there was enough material to devote an entire book to it. Incredible.

Next up, a book I purchased on eBay, also on the 9th. It arrived today and serves as a classic example of impulse buying. I was cruising about, looking for cheap copies of Melton's third edition (before I purchased the Amazon one), when I stumbled upon a coupla cover variations I hadn't seen before.

The book was cheap (US $16), hardcover and in brand new condition. But, there was no publication date. I just assumed it was the new edition. So, bam! I clicked "buy". What I should have done, was check the book's ISBN (9781578593156). Sure enough, when I later checked it, I realised I'd purchased a hardcover copy of the second edition. An edition I already own, in paperback. D'oh!

I didn't want to welsh out of the purchase on account of my own oversight, so I let it proceed. If you wanna know what the first and second edition paperback covers look like, click here. The third edition paperback cover's here. So, word to the wise: if in doubt, check the ISBN!

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