Arkham House is largely credited with keeping the flame alive for H.P. Lovecraft and others before they became more widely known. The iconic publisher’s devotion to weird fiction is legendary, and AbeBooks.com’s Richard Davies recently posted a feature on Arkham, including a lovely assortment of their delightfully odd covers.
As the feature rightly notes, “This publisher’s books are highly sought-after by collectors who adore horror, supernatural fiction and writing generally designed to scare the bejesus out of people. Arkham’s memorable bindings have also played a major role in adding to the collectability of these books. Most print runs were limited to a few thousand copies–further enhancing the collectible status.”
Davies also includes a definition of weird fiction: “Weird fiction is a little hard to define. It’s a sub-genre of speculative fiction (eg genres like science fiction and horror) and often uses ghost stories and other supernatural elements, mythology and macabre plots.”
Check out the rest of the article here; it’s accompanied by an impressive gallery of Arkham covers.
WFR Editorial remembers being in a Jacksonville, Florida, bookstore when a man came in with 18 Arkham first edition hardcovers he had found in a dumpster—apparently a collector had died and his library had been thrown out rather than put up for sale. They were lovingly preserved, in plastic covers to protect the dust jackets. When asked, the man said there were hundreds more, including editions from other presses, but that he no longer remembered where he had found them. This still qualifies as among the top 10 most horrifying encounters of our lives, thinking of all of those fine books discarded so carelessly…