Monday, August 29, 2011

Is New Always Better?

HTTYD is awesome sauce.
Clue: that's me.

Okay, not really.

But that's how I felt.

Last Saturday, I innocently discovered something. I'd recently read Rowan Hood and was glad I had, so I thought it was time to deal with another of the "I conflicted" books, The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinely. When I searched for it using my library's internet database, I was surprised to find that there was only one copy.

With a sense of foreboding, I then tried three different searches to try to make my current favorite, Robin Hood (or sometimes The Adventures of Robin Hood) by E. Charles Vivian, pop up in the window.

These told me that it no longer exists in my library system. Further searches revealed that another of my favorites, Roger Lancelyn's Green's The Adventures of Robin Hood (no, Robin Hood authors are not renown for original titles), also no longer exists. Robin Hood and His Adventures by Creswick is still managing to stay alive with 4 copies, to help my sanity a little bit.

Image Source

This is the lovely printing of Vivian's copy that graced the shelves at the library in this system that was "mine" for ten years. Hardback, full of beautiful (and less beautiful) illustrations from all sorts of artists (I featured one here), and, on top of it all, an interesting, original, funny, and surprisingly fluid (instead of completely episodic) text to go along with it.

I remember noticing several years ago that the library system was reducing their copies of both of these books (and Creswick's as well)--so I bought them. I've felt a little silly for it over the years (though all around happy to own each of them), and had kind of reached the point of: "they won't REALLY disappear entirely."

As I'm writing this, the anger is draining away and I'm just sad. The text of these three books--Creswick, Vivian, Green--are all over 50 years old. Creswick and Vivian are over 100. Even Robin McKinley's 23 year-old book has been diminished, and replaced with such things as Rowan Hood and Hawksmaid. Or, Forbidden Forest, a nine-year-old re-telling that I stopped reading last night after about 20 pages because it was disgusting.

This isn't to say I don't like re-tellings. I DO. That's why I read them and watch them--even if I don't ultimately care for the book, I often like the twist. Robin Hood from the point of view of his daughter/Marian/Little John? Bring it on! I'm excited to see what you've done.

But when new utterly replaces old? I volunteered at my library for quite a long time. Once I was given the task of working on the "Dusty Book List" in the easy readers section. This meant that I was given a list and went to pull everything on the list off the shelves--they were to be discharged from the library and sold in a booksale. It was called "Dusty Books" because every book on that list hadn't been checked out for 2 years. I must admit I felt sorry for all those old little hardback books as I pulled them out.

Now I can't help wondering if that's what happened to two of my beloved versions of Robin Hood.

Why do we always assume because something is new it'll be better?

P.S. YES, this means I will be doing re-reads and reviews of these "deceased" books. They deserve it!
Image Source for HTTYD is on the picture...internet safety won't let me view it.


Mercia Dragonslayer said...

*wails* That is SO SAD, Nai! I haven't searched for Robin Hood books recently at my library, but I DO know we still have The Outlaws of Sherwood, at least. >.> That is so very sad.

Aubrey (runningfree) said...

I have noticed libraries are getting rid of classics, older books, etc. Sometimes they replace them with newer covers so they don't fall apart, other times they just completely get rid of them altogether. What, I ask, is the point of a library then!? You are not alone in your frustrations.

ZNZ said...

I'm thinking maybe the problem is that you were the only one checking these books out. They do get rid of books if people don't read them enough. Which stinks.

You can have my copy of McKinley's Outlaws of Sherwood if you want it. I don't need it anymore because I will never forgive her for the ending ever.

Nairam said...

Yeah, I'm guessing that's the reason why. It's not entirely the library's fault--it *is* a popular library after all, and they're not really "popular" anymore, I'm guessing. It's as much the culture as anything.

Eh, I'll see what I think of it this time around first. McKinley's version is not dear to me, and you're right, the ending is TERRIBLE.

Anonymous said...

NOOOOO! Doesn't it make you want to check out all the books in the library, just to make sure they aren't pulled out and sold?! Yikes! That stinks, Nairam. Personally, if it happened to me I'd probably be sad/mad/disappointed!

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