Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

A Secessionist Surcharge?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on August 5, 2010

So over the weekend I picked up a second-hand set of Wiley’s Billy Yank and Johnny Reb. Classic works, ought to be on every CW reference shelf, yadayadayada. Johnny Reb was priced $2 more than Billy Yank, but I initially attributed that to inattention at the shop. No, turns out that the original list price had Johnny Reb $3 higher than its mate, $14.95 to $11.95. And even now on Amazon — which sells them in paperback for the same price, $17.12, the hardback list price for Johnny Reb is $1.60 more than Billy Yank. I have no idea why. There should be no significant difference in actual production cost; both books are almost exactly the same length, and have similar numbers of images. I’m guessing the pricing reflects either (a) a slightly stronger sales market for works about Confederate soldiers than Union, or (b) it’s yet another example of liberal, academic-type Yankee publishers wielding an economic cudgel to oppress God-fearing, hard-working, patriotic Southrons.

5 Responses

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  1. Dick Stanley said, on August 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Probably, as you say, a matter of popularity. Supply and demand. Higher demand equals higher cost. Winners can afford to forget, losers never do.

  2. Andy Hall said, on August 7, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Dick, thanks for taking time to comment. Yes, I do think it’s a matter of demand, but (IMO) it extends beyond those who have a personal or geographical link to the South. There is something about the way that the Confederacy has been remembered and presented that simply give it more popular appeal today than the Union has. (Although I don’t really see buying one book without the other, regardless of where one’s sympathies lay.)

  3. Dick Stanley said, on August 8, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Oh, indeed, I own both of them. Can’t really understand the soldiers (and, thereby, the war) without knowing both of them.

    The demand for books on the Rebel soldier, however, is worldwide. A joke I heard about German reenactors typifies it: “You have to be a Union soldier for three years before you can be a Rebel.” Otherwise they’d have no Union soldiers to “fight.”

    As for the Confederacy’s popularity, per se, I wonder if it exists, beyond the SCV and UDC. I’d say it has more to with the usual popularity of the underdog, i.e. the ragged, starving and losing Rebel troops. How many moderns outside the aforementioned groups would care to read one of Jeff Davis’s interminable speeches justifying secession?

    • Andy Hall said, on August 8, 2010 at 12:50 am

      Heh. I understand what the German reenactor meant. In the spring I went to a reenactment from the Texas Revolution and was astonished that there was a very large contingent of “Mexican” soldiers — many more than I’d expected, with a two-gun battery, lancers, and three or four discrete (if small) infantry units. Last time I’d attended one of those, many years ago, there were, like four Mexican soldiers, against maybe fifty “Texians.” Seeing that would make you wonder why the Alamo turned out the way it did.

  4. S. Thomas Summers said, on August 8, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Although I’m a Yankee, a son of the North (hell, I was born in Alaska), as a writer, I find writing about the South and in the voice of Confederate soldiers much more fun.

    Here’s an example.

    All the best!

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