Buying, selling, and collecting the Oz books

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Is anybody publishing Oz books today?

Yes. Most of the FF books are in print right now, or at least generally available, and there is at least one publisher devoted to putting out new Oz books. Print on demand technology has also made it easier for anyone to publish their own Oz books.

What Oz books are available? And where can I get them?

All of the Baum Oz books are available from a number of publishers. Del Rey has been publishing paperback versions of the Baum books for years now, and they are available at some larger bookstores, although you may have to look in the science fiction section instead of children's. However, few titles are available on the website and it appears that the publisher is phasing out its Oz books. Dover Publications has also put out the Baum books, including The Little Wizard Stories of Oz, as well as some of his non-Oz fantasies and The Royal Book of Oz, in nice paperback editions, and these too can often be found in better bookstores. If you have no luck there, check online at http://store.doverpublications.com/. Finally, Books of Wonder and HarperCollins have teamed up to reprint the Baum series in near facsimiles of their first editions. These, too, are available in many bookstores. There are also numerous other editions of The Wizard of Oz (be careful, some may be adaptations — some may not even acknowledge Baum as the original author), and many Canadian, British, and other editions of Baum's Oz books published outside of the United States, including translations into many languages.

When it comes to books by other authors, however, it gets a little more complicated, and you're probably going to have to get at least some of them by mail order or through the Internet. In the mid-1980s Del Rey expanded their Oz line by reprinting most of Thompson's books, but they did not sell as well, and after the death of editor Judy-Lynn del Rey (a lifelong Oz fan herself), the company decided to drop the Thompson titles. IWOC bought up the remaining stocks, and now sells the titles from The Royal Book of Oz through Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz (but their supplies are nearly exhausted). Thanks to changes in printing technology, however, the Thompson Del Rey titles are back in print, and they can be ordered from most booksellers, or through Del Rey's online catalog at http://www.randomhouse.com/author/results.pperl?authorid=30991 although as above, there are currently few books listed in the online catalog.

IWOC has also published its own versions of the books from Speedy in Oz through Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, as well as The Scarecrow of Oz, The Magical Mimics in Oz, The Shaggy Man of Oz, The Hidden Valley of Oz, and new books from established Oz authors: Ruth Plumly Thompson's Yankee in Oz and The Enchanted Island of Oz, The Forbidden Fountain of Oz by the McGraws, The Ozmapolitan of Oz by illustrator Dick Martin, and The Wicked Witch of Oz by Rachel Cosgrove Payes. IWOC has also published a new novel for the Oz centennial, The Hidden Prince of Oz and a follow-up, Toto of Oz, both by Gina Wickwar, various collections of essays and short stories, games and art books, and other Ozzy publications, including Oziana, a nearly annual literary magazine of new short fiction and art. The current address to write about buying IWOC publications is The International Wizard of Oz Club, PO Box 2657, Alameda, CA 94501. You can also look at the Club's online catalog at http://www.ozclub.org/Winkie_Country.html.

Books of Wonder, in addition to its Baum books, has also published the other Oz titles in public domain, the Neill Oz books (including The Runaway in Oz, his previously unpublished manuscript), Merry Go Round in Oz, new editions of some of Baum's non-Oz books, and their own line of new Oz stories under the imprint of The Emerald City Press. Many of these books are available in bookstores. In addition, they sell any number of new Oz books from other publishers, toys, games, video and audio tapes, knickknacks, and anything else Ozzy. To see what they have available, see http://www.booksofwonder.com/departments.asp?dept=5 (or, if that doesn't work, go to their main page at http://www.booksofwonder.com/, then click on the "Oz" tab).

Another source of new Oz books is Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends, a not-for-profit company that will publish just about anything if it's sufficiently Ozzy. For more information, check out their website at http://sites.google.com/site/cowardlylionsite/.

Also take a look at Hungry Tiger Press at http://www.hungrytigerpress.com/. They've been issuing a number of interesting Ozzy products, such as reprints of sheet music from old Oz stage plays. Hungry Tiger Press also published six issues of Oz-Story, an annual magazine of Oz fiction, poetry, and art from Baum, Thompson, Neill, and others, including recent work by current authors and artists. Their most notable books have been Paradox in Oz and The Living House of Oz by Edward Einhorn, and The Rundelstone of Oz, Eloise Jarvis McGraw's last book. They have also reprinted many non-Oz titles by L. Frank Baum, including John Dough and the Cherub and many of his pseudonymous works.

One of the most thorough resources for buying Oz books and other Oz products is (TMOHH) the online bookshop of the WWOOW. This site is run in association with Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk (other sources are also represented), and allows for easy ordering of Oz products online via the WWW. Or you can use the information from Amazon to place an order at your local bookstore. You can reach it directly at http://thewizardofoz.info/bookshop.html.

If you are only interested in reading the texts of the Oz books, and don't mind using your computer to do it, most of the titles in public domain are available online to read or download. Many of Baum's non-Oz works are available in this form as well. See the question Where can I find the texts of Oz books online? for details.

In recent years, many companies and individuals have taken advantage of print-on-demand technology to create their own print-on-demand "editions" of public domain titles. Generally these books consist of unillustrated text and cost more than better looking books released by regular publishers. In other words, you can do better.

My bookstore doesn't carry Oz books. What can I do?

Most bookstores will be happy to order books of any sort for their customers. All you have to do is ask. Since bookstores want to keep their customers satisfied, they will put in a special order, and let you know when your books arrive. On the off chance that your local bookstore can't or won't special order books for you, find another bookstore! Online bookstores, such as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, are also good resources.

How can I get older editions or out-of-print books?

That is a little more complicated. Many people collect Oz books, or children's books in general, and even editions from as recently as the 1970s can sell for much more than their original sales price. Rare and antiquarian booksellers know their market, and often charge quite a bit for their Oz books. Yet bargains can sometimes be found at thrift shops, used bookstores, rummage and garage sales, and so forth. Look around; they may be out there.

You can also try a few other places that do mail order business. Books of Wonder (see their address and website above, in the question What Oz books are available? And where can I get them?) also sells older books, and so you may want to contact them if you have something in particular in mind. Another place to try is Oz and Ends Book Shoppe (write to them at 14 Dorset Drive, Kenilworth, NJ 07033-1417, or e-mail him through this link). Unlike many book dealers, Herm Bieber of Oz and Ends carries more than just collectible early editions in good condition. He has most books in any number of editions and conditions, and his prices are much lower than most other dealers. Send a list with your wants (the more flexible you can be the better), along with your address and phone number, and Herm will help you as best he can. Or try March Hare Books in El Segundo, California, or online at http://www.marchharebooks.com/. Another excellent and extensive resource is rareozbooks.com.

Another good place to get Oz books and merchandise is the IWOC conventions. Their conventions all feature auctions and sales tables, and are a good way to see what's available and to meet other Oz fans. For more information on Oz conventions, see the question Are there any Oz conventions?.

There are many excellent resources online that can help. Check out the links page of WWOOW (http://thewizardofoz.info/wiki/Where_to_buy_Oz_books). A number of bookshops listed there do online business in used and antiquarian books. To search a number of bookshops all at once, try Bookfinder (http://www.bookfinder.com/) or ABE Books (http://www.abebooks.com/ or http://www.abebooks.co.uk/), both of which have the listings of a number of antiquarian booksellers. Book Rescue (http://www.bookrescue.com/) specializes in childrens' books. You can also try online auction houses, such as eBay (http://www.ebay.com/), as there are often Oz books there. Be careful with auction sites, however, because not everybody understands what they have, and so may advertise a Baum paperback as a first edition. Two newsgroups may also be helpful, http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.marketplace/topics?pli=1 and http://groups.google.com/group/alt.books.marketplace/topics?lnk.

I'm collecting the Rand McNally paperbacks. Where can I find their editions of Rinkitink in Oz and The Lost Princess of Oz?

In the early 1970s, Rand McNally came to an agreement with Reilly and Lee to publish attractive, large paperback editions of the Baum Oz books, similar in size and style to the hardcover editions Reilly and Lee was also publishing at the time. With many of the titles, it was the first time they had ever been issued in paperback. But for some reason, Rand McNally only published twelve of the Baum books in paperback, and left out Rinkitink in Oz and The Lost Princess of Oz. So, to finally answer the question, you can't find them anywhere, since they were never published. Sorry.

What are the "Junior Edition" Oz books from Rand McNally, published in 1939?

In March and June of 1939, Rand McNally hopped on the Wizard of Oz bandwagon (publicity for The Movie was already in high gear at that point, even though it wouldn't be released until August) by publishing their own versions of some of the Oz books, licensed from Reilly and Lee. These books were smaller and much slimmer than the regular Oz books of the time, as they were intended for a younger audience. They were similar in style to today's Little Golden Books. The first three offerings were unabridged reprints of some of the Little Wizard stories from 1913 (see the question What other Oz stories did Baum write? for details), two stories per volume: The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman of Oz, also Princess Ozma of Oz; Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse of Oz, also Tik-tok and the Gnome King of Oz; and Little Dorothy and Toto of Oz, also The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger of Oz. The remaining six books in the series were adaptations of Oz books: The Land of Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz, and The Lost Princess of Oz. This was the first time any Oz book other than The Wizard of Oz was published as an adaptation. All nine of these books retained Neill's original art, but because of their small size, not all of Neill's drawings could be included. Some of the color pictures from these books (see the question I've seen Oz books with colored pictures. What are these, and are they worth anything?) were also reproduced, which makes them especially interesting as the regular Oz books of the time no longer included color. And as The Road to Oz had not originally included color illustrations, a Rand McNally staff artist added color to some of Neill's full-page illustrations from that book for the adaptation. This makes the Junior Edition of The Road to Oz particularly popular among collectors, as it is the only edition of the book with Neill's illustrations in color. But the entire series is not hard to find, and prices are relatively affordable. The books were available both separately and as a set in an illustrated box labeled "The Wonderful Land of Oz Library". The box is more difficult to find, especially in good shape, and thus more expensive.

I have some old Oz books. How much are they worth?

How much an Oz book is worth depends on its edition (when it was printed, and in some cases by what publisher) and condition (how clean and well put-together it still is after all those years of enjoyment). A first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in excellent condition can fetch thousands of dollars, while tattered later printings can be worth less than fifty, to give an example. It also depends, of course, on how much a book is worth to someone else, and how much that person is willing to pay. Unfortunately, there are too many variables in what a book is worth, and the market is constantly shifting, so there is no established price guide or scale for Oz books. To find out how much an older book is really worth, take it to an antiquarian bookdealer and ask. Better yet, take it to several antiquarian bookdealers, especially those who specialize in children's books. If you can make it to one of IWOC's conventions, there are a number of Oz books experts who could also help you there. I do not recommend trying to have a book's value determined over the phone, through letters, or online, as it is very difficult to tell much of anything without being able to actually physically examine the book. But if you must go this route, supply as much information as you can. The full title on both cover and title page, illustrator, color of the cloth used in binding, whether or not the book has color pictures or a pasted-down cover label, the name of the publisher, the size of the pages, and the overall thickness of the book are all clues that can be used to determine an Oz book's approximate age. If you can supply photos of the cover, title page, and copyright page, that will help even more.

Where can I sell my old Oz books?

You can always try your local antiquarian bookdealers (most large cities have at least one or two). They will pay you for the books, of course, then sell them to others at a considerable markup. With some dealers you may also be able to work out a consignment deal. You can also try eBay or another online auction site, and you'd get to keep a higher percentage of the money. The trouble there is that there's no guarantee that you'll make the full value of your books. Another alternative is to contact IWOC. They often buy Oz items, or put them on consignment, for the auctions they conduct at IWOC conventions to raise funds for the club. If you choose to donate your books to IWOC, there may be some tax advantages, as IWOC is a non-profit corporation. And whether you sell or donate your book through IWOC, you'll know that your book will probably go to an Oz fan who will truly appreciate it. For details on selling through or donating to IWOC, contact Bill Thompson via e-mail, at ozclubauction@gmail.com.

How can I tell when an Oz book was published?

Unfortunately, unlike most American publishers of the twentieth century, Reilly and Britton/Lee (and also Bobbs-Merrill) didn't print publishing histories in their books, so it's impossible to tell just how old a particular volume is without some background information. Do not fall into the trap of believing that the copyright date is also the date of publication, because they are two completely different concepts, and the original unaltered copyright pages were still used into the 1960s and '70s. A good very general rule of thumb is that the more elaborate a book is, the older it is, but this only holds if you can compare it to other copies of the same title. Fortunately, information of this sort is readily available. If you are at all serious about buying, selling, trading, or collecting older editions of the Oz books, you will do yourself a big favor by buying a copy of the book Bibliographia Oziana from IWOC. This book gives the conjectured printing history of all of the FF, as well as several other major titles, and how to recognize and differentiate between different editions. While it doesn't give any sort of prices, it is a good book to have on hand when making deals, shopping around, or seeing what's available. For more information, contact IWOC. Also, you might want to get The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz by Paul R. Bienvenue and Robert E. Schmidt. The authors have not only put together a thorough examination of every "official" and closely related Oz book and every book written by L. Frank Baum, they've put them into a heavily illustrated color book that should be invaluable for many years to come.

I've seen Oz books with colored pictures. What are these, and are they worth anything?

Until 1936, all new Oz books, and many reprints of older titles, were published with color of some sort. These editions are highly sought after and valuable to many collectors, as they are not only earlier editions, but the colored pictures are often quite striking. The most common form of color was inserted color plates, either glued in or bound in. In general, twelve color plates were put into each of the books, but there are exceptions:

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz originally had twenty-four plates, including its title page. The text illustrations also had color.
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and The Emerald City of Oz all originally had sixteen plates.
  • Ozma of Oz and The Patchwork Girl of Oz had no inserted plates, but color was printed directly onto the text pages.
  • The Road to Oz, while having no colored pictures, was originally printed on colored paper.

As time passed and the cost of printing books rose, Reilly and Lee dropped some plates, and the books became generally less elaborate. If a book has fewer than twelve plates, however, it doesn't necessarily mean it's not an older edition. In some books the plates were not well secured and tended to fall out with use. Some "Popular Editions" had only a color frontpiece. After 1935, color was dropped entirely, except for The Wizard of Oz, which came from another publisher. The current Books of Wonder reprints of the Baum Oz books have restored the color, and generally tried to make the books as close as possible to being facsimiles of the first editions. Both Books of Wonder and the International Wizard of Oz Club have also put color plates into the Thompson books they have reprinted that originally had them. Dover has also reproduced the color plates, although in some titles they were only made in black and white. Color plates and color pictures often make older books quite valuable. The plates by themselves, however, are not necessarily worth a lot if separated from the book. For more information on the use of color in individual titles, consult Bibliographia Oziana or The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz. You can see many of these color plates at http://www.oz-central.com/bk%20site/index.html.

Hey! What's wrong with page 95 of The Scalawagons of Oz? It ends in the middle of a sentence, but the next page starts off with a new paragraph.

The Oz books are a lot of fun to read, and there are some great stories and characters in them, but they are not always the most well edited books ever published! Several of the books have small errors that crept in and were never corrected, but this error in The Scalawagons of Oz is one of the worst. Even in the most recent edition from Books of Wonder, the last three lines of page 95 read:

Then Jenny bent her mind on the adventure ahead.
further from the Winkie Wood.
She was sailing easily, every moment being carried

It appears that two lines of type were accidentally switched. It makes much more sense, and flows much better into the next page, if you swap the last two lines, like this:

Then Jenny bent her mind on the adventure ahead.
She was sailing easily, every moment being carried
further from the Winkie Wood.

Is there a word missing from page 156 of The Sea Fairies?

Strictly speaking, this is not an Oz question, as The Sea Fairies was Baum's major book for 1911, but it doesn't take place in Oz. It does, however, introduce Trot and Cap'n Bill, who later become integrated into the Oz books four years later in The Scarecrow of Oz, and it is very similar in many ways to an Oz book, including illustrations from John R. Neill. So The Sea Fairies and its sequel, Sky Island, are considered by some to be honorary Oz books. And yes, a word is missing from page 156, in chapter 14, of The Sea Fairies. It appears that the single word "man" took up an entire line of text after the line:

"You did; you pulled that bell cord," said the one-legged

But somehow it got lost or misplaced. This error has been in every single printing of The Sea Fairies that I am aware of, including modern day reprints from Books of Wonder and Dover, and even online text file versions. Other than for authenticity's sake, I have no idea why nobody has ever corrected this.