“High Company” … by Harry Lee
The handsome young man standing in this picture is my grandfather… Harry Lee. He was a medic in WWI and after he came home he wrote a book of poems, entitled “High Company”. The poetry is almost child-like to my ear and I doubt if it would be publishable in today’s market but it was my “Papa’s” sincere tribute to the men of courage that he treated.
He has two other published books …”More Day to Dawn” about the life of Henry Thoreau and “The Little Poor Man” a play honoring St. Francis of Assisi. I had copies of those books but it took a very long internet search to finally find a copy of “High Company”. I was thrilled when I realized that the one I purchased was signed by “Papa”.
When one of my sisters asked me if I could find a copy for her I told her I’d try. I was surprised to get a quick email answer to my book inquiry…and equally surprised when I read the description from Alibris … "BRAND NEW PAPERBACK. This book is printed on demand (allow 1-2 weeks for printing)."
How can this be, I wondered? Surely Papa had a copyright on his material. Then it came to me. His book was published in 1920 and, even with a 75 year copyright it would not be valid now unless it had been updated. Then I read further and all became clear…
By: Lee, Harry
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork."
I.e: they are brazenly copying whatever old texts that they can lay their hands on that have outlived their copyrights. A nifty little scheme with no fear of reprisals from the authors.
And there you have it ! My grandfather’s beloved book of poems may now be purchased in paper-back for $35. I don’t know whether to be furious that his work is being infringed upon or to be happy that his poems may see the light of day again.