Bibliobituaries

Alison Morris -- March 17th, 2007

Yesterday was a snowy day here in Boston and, as on all snowy days, I found my mind repeating the short refrain that begins the picture book Snowsong Whistling by Karen E. Lotz, illustrated by Elisa Kleven. It goes like this:  "There's a crisp in the air/ From I-don't-know-where/But it might be/A snowsong whistling."

There are, of course, any number of books in rhyming verse that grace (and sometimes disgrace) the shelves of our bookstore in a given year, but for some reason the rhymes on this book's pages have never left me, though the book sadly has. My original copy was lost in a moving fiasco seven years ago that left me forever parted from the box of my then favorite picture books. 

I'm not the only one who loves this title. Just One More Book, a blog by two charming Canadians, has even recorded its own podcast, in which they banter about what makes it one of their favorites. But here's the bad news: like so many other gems, Snowsong Whistling is out of print. And I feel is owed some small fanfare.

Typically there is no official announcement made when a book goes out of print or goes "out of stock indefinitely." As a bookseller I typically learn this has happened when I repeatedly attempt to reorder a title and it repeatedly fails to reappear. I get no memo, no warning, no "thank you for supporting this book for as long as you have, but I'm afraid you can no longer sell it to your customers." The book slips silently from the shelves.

Wouldn't it be nice to see some formal sort of recognition go to books at the time of their passing? I personally would love it if someone in the world would create a repository for obituaries of out of print books, or "bibliobituaries," as I'm calling them. In order to make that happen, I'd suggest we start writing them.

I'll get the ball rolling here and then hope that some of you wittier folks will outdo me by writing better bibliobituaries for your own favorite out of print books. You can post them via the comments field, or if you'd prefer to be more anonymous, send them directly to me. Can't think of a book to write about? You might find inspiration at The BookFinder.com Report, where the folks from BookFinder.com post an annual list of the most sought-after out of print books in various categories.

Born in 1993 to Karen E. Lotz and Elisa Kleven, Snowsong Whistling, beloved picturebook, went out of print sometime in the past five years. The circumstances of her death are unknown. A joyful romp that celebrated the turning of the seasons, Snowsong was beloved for her clever rhymes, her vibrant collage illustrations, and her lively introductions to the best aspects of Fall and Winter. A founding member of Alison Morris's personal library and favorite of at least one Canadian family, she is survived by her author and her illustrator. Services will be held in Alison's living room whenever the flakes start falling.

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