Books That Are Out Of Print, But Not Out Of Mind

Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes: Don't worry; it's really him. Hulton Archive, Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Courtesy of the Paper Cuts blog at The New York Times, I wound up at the list of the most searched-for out-of-print books.

While Paper Cuts not-unreasonably refers to the list as something of a "carnival of obscurity," some of the books are out of print because they were controversial or, in the case of The Autobiography Of Howard Hughes, because they were total frauds. Oops.

What else is on the list? We explore, after the jump...

There's nothing obscure about Stephen King's Rage, either. He wrote the book, an unsettling tale of high-school violence, under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (as he did with a number of other titles).

But the reason it's out of print is that, as King later explained, he asked for it to be taken out of print after it was found in the locker of a student who shot several classmates in 1997.

I didn't even realize Madonna's Sex, a coffee-table book that was awfully controversial in its time, wasn't in print anymore. But apparently people are still interested in finding it.

As they are in Norman Mailer's biography of Marilyn Monroe, The Fireside Book Of Folk Songs, and, of course, The Design Of Piping Systems, by the M.W. Kellogg Company. Many's the happy hour I spent under the covers with a flashlight, hoping one day to design my own piping systems.

It's an interesting little tour of the things we want and cannot have. Google and Amazon have made people perhaps less patient than ever about not being able to lay hands on something (not always the case, of course; lots of these are likely available used), but there are still some things you have to hunt for.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

The first book that immediately jumps to mind when I think "out of print" is Laurie Anderson's Stories from the Nerve Bible. I have the album The Ugly One with the Jewels, which was her tour that included excerpts from the book, but I would to see what other stories the book holds. $60 for a secondhand copy on Amazon is a wee bit out of my price range

Sent by Mike McComb | 12:24 PM | 8-27-2008

The only out of print book I've gone on a hunt for (and found) was [i]The Bengal Lancer Cookbook[/i]. (It's got a ground lamb recipe that's so good, I had to find out what else was in there!)

Sent by Bo | 5:50 PM | 8-27-2008

I don't know if this book is out of print or just never at any bookstores or libraries I frequent, but one of my favorite childhood books was Kilmenny of the Orchard, by L.M. Montgomery. I'd like to find it and put it in my nostalgia-shelf.

Sent by Katie | 10:05 AM | 8-31-2008

James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks is out of print, and I have lost my copy somewhere--I want a replacement badly, but can't find one.

Sent by Mollie | 11:43 AM | 9-3-2008

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from