Peter Beagle's Last Unicorn and many rarities available in ebook form (finally!)

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I’ve had this book since Humble Ebook Bundle 2, July 2013…


Was coming here to say the same thing.

Last unicorn?


I honestly don’t understand why publishers aren’t pushing their entire back catalogue (including out of print books) out as ebooks. Apart from a small outlay to format them correctly, it’s basically money for nothing after that.

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Because a lot of publishers don’t have simple text files of their back catalog of ebooks.

Kindles used to have two file formats. The first was just a variant of mobi format and the other was called “topaz” (I’m not sure if it officially had that name but an internal moniker). Topaz format books could have embedded fonts so some publishers used it for that end but the designer of the format, after he left Amazon, said really that format existed as a hack. It was basically a way to take the image-based format that many publishers had for publishing books (I gather what was sent to the printing machines) and shoehorn it into an ebook format without having to completely re-enter the text. He said at the time that it turned out that many publishers had no computer entered copies of just the text of most of their books. They had an image ready format for printing and they had physical manuscripts and that was it. This is probably because they hadn’t preserved any data entered over the decades.

(These days, for kindles, we have AZW3, which is basically an HTML file similar to ePub, as I recall, and AZW4, which is used for textbooks and is a wrapper with DRM around PDF files. )

This explains why new books easily come out as ebooks but old back catalog stuff later trickles in as it gets re-entered from scratch or a new publisher picks up orphaned works, cleans them up, and re-releases them.


Does Peter get any royalties from either of these? I seem to remember he got caught in some horrible publisher-vs-author ownership problem some years ago, and I think it was about this book, or maybe the movies from the book?

Very interesting, thank you for the perspective.

I wonder if any publishers are looking toward the future and getting their old works digitised. It’s be a comparatively small upfront cost against a very long tail…

It looks like Mr. Beagle reached a settlement on that back in 2011

I think they are which is why we’re seeing more and more old works appearing. The issue I was describing was from five or six years ago.


The publisher has confirmed on Twitter that these books are not DRM-free, so this statement may be incorrect.

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They were after I ran my local scripts.

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Am I the only one who is still waiting for Penguin to rerelease Gerald Durrell’s fabulous back catalog as ebooks?

I just read his Corfu trilogy on my Kindle, although they were…sideloaded

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