Jack MatthewsThis crossed my desk a few days ago, and since Jack Matthews has been written about on TeleRead in the past, I thought I’d note his recent passing.

I read the old article, and I thought it was interesting how a (then) living author with 20+ books had been so ignored by the Internet. No books on Kindle. No Wikipedia entry. No reviews of book that were available on Amazon. (I checked, and they aren’t now.)

Those of us who write about publishing talk about how the Internet now means that books will be available forever and how that’s a good thing. We expect that authors from long ago might be forgotten, but it made me pause for a moment to think about how easily we’re losing track of more recent literary works. Keeping such works alive, was, of course, part of the much-maligned Google Book Scanning project. I wrote the article I linked to just a month ago, and in it I said, “One of the persistent problems with book discovery is that its difficult to search for something if you don’t know it exists.”

Author Matthews certainly fell in that category for me. It does raise the question, “is my life significantly improved now that I know about him?” Probably not. It doesn’t appear he wrote the sort of thing I like to read. But I do believe in the value of preserving literature (good, bad and indifferent).

Well enough of my musings. Here’s an interesting quote by Robert Nagle, who wrote a lengthy Matthews obituary and is the one who alerted me to his passing.

Matthews believed that the psychological rewards of amassing a collection — any kind of collection — were considerable. “This joy to collect seems intrinsic,” he wrote, “for very young children possess it and soon extend the simple delights of touching and owning to include those more sophisticated delights of building and ordering.” There is the pleasure of the journey and stumbling upon a rare or brilliant title at the most unexpected time or place.

Kind of makes me think Matthews would have agreed with me. And luckily, Nagle is devoted to keeping the works of Matthew available. He’s republishing them all as ebook editions, and for the rest of the month, the first five Matthews books that have been published by Personville Press are available for free.

I’m planning to grab at least one. Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll love his writing and I too will have the joy of stumbling across something brilliant and unexpected.

And thank you, Robert Nagle, for bringing him to my attention.