Imagine that you’ve just discovered a new series on TV. You’ve devoured the tenth series and have started working your way through the back catalogue, but you’re mildly disappointed to discover that parts of the first series have never been released on DVD, but you soldier on nevertheless.
As you approach series seven, excitement begins to mount. You’ve heard from fellow fans on discussion boards that this is their favourite series, and you just cannot wait to see what all the fuss is about.But then you discover that only a small number of the episodes are available to order – you have to hunt them down through various second hand markets, and they are not cheap.
Then you discover that series eight has even fewer episodes available. Disheartened, you make the uneasy choice as to whether or not you should abandon these two series entirely and skip to the ninth, or start the long, painful and ultimately impossible task of filling in the blanks.
Sound like a nightmare? Welcome to the problem Doctor Who book fans have been facing for the last decade or so.
After the series was cancelled in 1989, Virgin Books acquired the licence to continue the adventures of the Doctor in book form. These books were largely well received by fans looking to fill the void left by the series cancellation, and added much depth to the Doctor, his universe and his continuity.
Virgin continued to publish these, as well as the Missing Adventures featuring earlier Doctors, until 1996 and the release of the TV movie. At this point, the BBC saw potential in the Doctor’s ability to sell books, as well as saving the universe, and re-acquired the licence from Virgin Books for use with the eighth Doctor.
Many of the same authors were retained for this line of books, and the Missing Adventures continued in the form of the Past Adventures. These books continued to be written until the series was renewed for television in 2005 and the BBC decided to focus their literary efforts on the ninth and then current Doctor.
The lack of reprints up until now has meant that some of these books have become very hard to find, and require potential readers to haunt various second hand venues. Some of the rarer volumes can regularly be sold for double figures and, every so often, for triple.
This is where the Doctor Who Reprint Society comes in. The DWRS started when online talk of the books revealed that several readers had acquired less than legal copies of them. This led to a very heated discussion regarding the ethics of acquiring these books in such a fashion when they were not available in the first hand market.
The one thing everyone could agree on was that should the books be made available, they would all then purchase copies legally.
The DWRS was founded on this principle, and has been campaigning since then, without much success, for reprints to be released.
Then, a few months ago, Society members noticed that several old titles had appeared on Amazon with a release date of February 2011. Speculation ran wild, but no statement from the BBC was forthcoming regarding these.
Last month, Lance Parkin, one of the most popular authors among fans, announced that the BBC was planning to re-release his eighth Doctor books on a print on demand basis. These comprised Infinity Doctors, The Gallifrey Chronicles, Father Time and Trading Futures.He couldn’t shed any light on any of the other books listed for re-release, however.
Since the initial appearance of these books, the date has been pushed back to May 2011. This, along with some of the titles disappearing from the listings, has caused concern that if enough interest isn’t shown in these titles, then there might not be future reprints.
This is where you come in. The Society would like every Who fan out there to start spreading the word about these reprints, to let new fans know about this part of continuity that they may have missed up until now.
We’ve brought the Doctor back from cancelation twice now. Let’s see if we can’t bring his books back from obscurity as well.