They sold well individually and by 2006 had gone out of print. The question then was what to do next with them; there was some discussion of reissue in what the trade call a ‘bind-up’, where multiple volumes are assembled into one. I’d actually written Desert Duel and Italian Odyssey back-to-back, still stand-alone; but in terms of the style, content and tone, essentially as if they were one larger book.
But then in mid-2007, and quite suddenly, Reed were purchased by Penguin – it was an incidental outcome of an international transaction in which the Elsevier group’s education arm – which included Reed – was purchased by Pearson, Penguin’s parent company. I was sad to hear the news. Reed were New Zealand’s oldest and largest publisher, an absolute Kiwi institution, I knew the editorial team very well – wonderful people who I enjoyed working with. I’d written so much for them, in fact, that the official Reed historian suggested I should have had my own imprint within their brand. (In point of fact, I am STILL working with most of the former Reed editorial team, but that story’s for another time).
On the other hand, by 2007 I was already writing for Penguin, separately, and knew the New Zealand managing editor and his publishing team well. The question was what to do with my Reed intellectual property, which Penguin had inherited – including all the contracts for my military histories. I raised the idea of a ‘bind-up’, which they liked – but, given the realities of the book trade at the time, it didn’t happen. Later, I asked for – and got – my publishing licenses back from Penguin for the majority of my back-list. And that’s where things sat until 2015 when I was able to organise reissue of some of those military histories. There was still demand.
Last year, I got that bind-up. Three volumes in one, now all in second edition: Battle for Crete, Desert Duel and Italian Odyssey, telling the story of the Second New Zealand Division from 1940 to 1945. It didn’t replace the single volumes, which were also available; it went alongside them in case anybody wanted them all together (and for about 2/3 the price of buying the three separately). The unified reissue needed a title, and as Kiwis at the time had called it simply ‘The Division’, I thought The Division Trilogy would be a good title. It was, of course, another oxymoron. Geddit? A bind-up called ‘The Division’? Oh well…
I still had a bit of work to do on it: there was a new index, for starters – all the pages were renumbered (Italian Odyssey started on p 199, for instance). But that’s the reality of book-writing. And so my account of the division became available under a single cover. Check it out – click to buy.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2019