On the uptown A train this morning The Observer spotted a fellow in khaki slacks and a black polo shirt holding a peculiar paperback edition of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. We wondered: was this an advanced reader’s copy? Had this man received it from Farrar, Straus and Giroux before the book’s publication and was just now getting around to it? Or had he picked it up at the Strand? Most importantly: does it still count as a status galley if the book in question is already available in stores and everyone has already read it?
This was no galley though. We’d seen the galleys for Freedom and they did not look like the book this guy was holding in his hands. This thing — as you can see above — was black and white! And it had a completely unfamiliar cover: instead of the blue bird/ forest/sunset image that graces the front of the Freedom we know, this one had a big three dimensional F on it, with the title and the author’s name in big imposing letters, and a falling feather in the bottom right hand corner.
Turns out this is what Freedom looks like in the UK, where it is published by HarperCollins. Still, that does not explain the fact that this was a paperback– according to Amazon.co.uk, the British paperback will not be released until April.
We investigated, and it seems that our friend on the A train was clutching what’s called an “export edition” of Freedom — a paperback published in the UK and sold in English-language retailers around Europe. Here’s the Amazon page for it.
Now that’s status.
Question is: was this “export edition” recalled along with all the other copies of Freedom published in the UK? Or do all those English-speaking ex-pats in Germany, France, and everywhere else going to have to make do with the error-riddled version?