… In vast quantities it has been remainderedIn late 2005 a friend invited me to pitch a book about comedy to the publishers for whom he worked; the book was rejected, but I was offered the opportunity to compile a joke book: Have You Heard The One About…?. I was well pleased. Although, I kidded myself that it might sell so well as to go to a second printing, if not a second edition, rather than be remaindered like every joke book I have ever bought. (Well, the ones I didn't grab for next to nothing at fetes and charity shops.) Amongst my friends in the media is one woman who is a television journalist. She gave me her card and suggested I phone and pitch for some coverage after publication – maybe ‘Kochie’ might interview me on Sunrise…
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My … much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life's vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one's … book --
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.
Clive James, from The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered
Of course, after publication, after the book launch, after I’d started doing some press – mostly community, regional and ABC radio – but before my book actually started appearing on bookshelves, it was clear that I’d never be Kochie’s guest to flog a joke book; and yet, it was unclear that I could ever sell a copy of mine. How could I stand a chance, when that same summer, Kochie was already occupying prime shelf space with a joke book of his own.
Still, Have You Heard The One About…? nearly sold its print run; I was paid, and the publishers made their money back. Everyone’s happy – except maybe the people who paid full price for the book when it first came out!