January 13, 2010
Pinball, 1973 bounces back
This morning when I checked my LibraryThing account, I was surprised to learn in a group discussion on Murakami Haruki's books that Pinball, 1973, Murakami’s most sought-after second novel published in 1980 (and the first to be published in English translation by Alfred Birnbaum in 1985), is finally available again. My surprise is partly due to the fact that I am already two-thirds into finishing this book, which is the second volume of The Trilogy of the Rat. I’m reading the widely available pdf in the web which I downloaded last year. Because Murakami considers his first two works of fiction as minor novels, he restricted the publication of these two books. He only authorized their publication in Japan. Back in 2007, the weblog The Millions linked to a pdf copy of Pinball for the benefit of Murakami fans.
The pdf languished on my TBR and I only got to start reading it a few days ago as part of my “Murakami Q Reading Challenge” which requires me to read the first nine (9) books of Murakami in English in the chronological order of their Japanese publication. (More on this challenge later). I’ve read Murakami’s first book Hear the Wind Sing before Christmas holidays, and so I’m onto Pinball now. Part of my reading plan this year includes a couple of Jap-fic which I started collecting less than a year ago.
The binding of the new edition of Pinball is once again the same format used by Kodansha English Library series – a pocket-sized paperback with the same cover art as the original that came out in ’85. The official release date is Christmas Day 2009. The reprints are currently available in Amazon Japan and ebay.com. (It's the 12th printing edition and hopefully the print run was large enough to accommodate the surge in demand.)
The book retails for about ¥819 at amazon.co.jp (shipping not yet included). It's just under $9.00 (around Php400). Outside Japan the shipping cost is expected to be high, but it beats the amazon.com price hands down. A copy of the early edition (1985 or so) at Amazon US is sold at a very prohibitive price of more than $500.
A cursory search of the web led me to two early blog announcements of the new printing. A comment in the second blog (Jan. 11) is particularly interesting as it noted that the price of the book in ebay has drastically decreased. The book can be had at around $20 in ebay. The latest reprinting brings the price of Pinball from a whopping 3 to 4-figure price (dollars) to a two-figure price.
True enough, “supply and demand” is in effect. Though the current Amazon US prices are still pegged at higher figures, we expect the influx of new editions to somehow lower them (even if they are collectible early copies). Through international sellers, the book can now reach a wider readership outside Japan.
How I wish publishers would do the same to more deserving out-of-print works which are long overdue in the presses. Case in point: The Devil to Pay in the Backlands.