Published on December 20th, 2010 | by Patrick Riley
You may recall our recent discussion of the Doctor Who Reprint Society, an Internet group working to get more of the best classic Doctor Who novels back on store shelves. We recently spoke with DWRS founder Alasdair Shaw, who told us all about the society, his favourite Who novels, and how you can help the world live or relive the golden years of Doctor Who reading.
We began by simply asking Al to tell us what the DWRS is all about:
“The Doctor Who Reprint Society is here to provide a voice for all the Whovians that want to see the novels made available again. Thereâ€™s a generation of fans now who just werenâ€™t aware of Who when the books were being published as well as a collection of Who fans who only knew of the TV series and didnâ€™t discover the books until it was too late to collect them easily. I fall into the latter group myself. I became aware of the Eighth Doctor books in 1997 when I came across a copy of The Eight Doctors in a second hand bookshop. I loved it. It was very obviously a continuation of events from The TV Movie, yet as I read the last few pages it became something else as well. As the Eighth Doctor met the Seventh it became apparent to me that the books that Iâ€™d glanced over in other bookshops were more than mere novelizations of episodes I didnâ€™t recognise, they were episodes themselves. Being the continuity obsessive that I am I felt I couldnâ€™t continue with the Eighth Doctorâ€™s adventures until I had found all of the Seventh’s.
“If I could have my own shot in a TARDIS I would go back and tell myself to grab any and each book I saw. But I donâ€™t, so I formed the DWRS instead.”
As it turns out, the idea to do just that – form the DWRS – has roots not just in the classic era of the show, but also in Season 30 with David Tennant.
“The seed for the DWRS was planted when I saw Silence in the Library for the first time. I found myself nodding to the Doctorâ€™s point about the printed word. And when we were introduced to the concept of the Library having a brand new copy of every book my first thought was ‘Theyâ€™ve got a copy of Lungbarrow in there!’ In fact I like to think it was a reprint of Lungbarrow that the Doctor told Donna not to read for fear of spoilers…
“The DWRS started properly however when I got involved in a thread on Gallifrey Base about how people got hold of the books. The two methods suggested were paying silly money for the books on eBay or obtaining PDF scans of the books. A friend of mine had some of the PDF copies. I tried to read them, but they were far from ideal. The formatting was off on occasion and typos cropped up from OCR software glitches.
“When the idea of letting the BBC know we wanted these books came up the general feeling was that the BBC wouldnâ€™t listen to individual fans. It was at that point I formed the DWRS to be the voice of those fans that want reprints. We number over 100 now and are still growing.”
Of course, when you have a group with 100+ members, you’ll have to have leaders. Aside from Alasdair, there are two other members who play a significant role in the Reprint Society’s day-to-day activities.
“The DWRS is made up of myself, Jesse Lax and Greig Byrne.
“Jesse is the Creative Director of Kwaai Games and showcases his own art through AHiL [AllHopeisLost] Designs. I came across him while I was seeking help putting a logo together for the site on Gallifrey Base. He kindly offered to put a logo together for me, and while we were discussing design options we started talking about the DWRS and other things and when the logo was finished Jesse decided heâ€™d like to stay on and help me design a look for the site. Such is the quality of Jesseâ€™s work that I was delighted that he wanted to stay on and help.
“Greig and I met through our wives and have struck up a friendship all of our own. Apart from working on setting up the new web site Greigâ€™s experience as a writer for TheAppleGoogle and as a sports writer for the Herald (formerly known as the Glasgow Herald, a popular Scottish newspaper) is being put to good use as our resident reviewer. Greigâ€™s point of view is especially useful as heâ€™s had no experience of the books at all and only dabbled in classic Who until the new series brought Who back into fashion. He brings a fresh, non-biased view to the book reviews, as well as his own brand of humour.”
“I couldnâ€™t tell you exactly which book I read first as I devoured my first five in quick succession.”
The three of them – Jesse, Greig, and Al – seem to share a progressive vision for the DWRS that will make sure the website never stands still.
“We have quite a few developments in mind for the DWRS. When I first started the site I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but not unlike a certain Time Lord I seem to have acquired companions and a following. As the team and membership has grown weâ€™ve been discussing ways of expanding the DWRS site. Greig has started to review Time Wyrm: Genesys and plans to keep reviewing other Who books, Jesse is a perfectionist who canâ€™t help but work to make the site look professional. Between them theyâ€™re currently working to move us from our current server to our very own one. The new site will have a few improvements over the current one including a brand new, more user friendly, forum and regular interviews. For my own part Iâ€™ll be starting to track down authors to find out their opinions on reprints and attempt to find out who owns the rights to their books. As for other media, weâ€™re going to stay focused on the printed word.
“Ultimately the DWRS exists to get the most sought-after volumes back into the hands of fans. Of course if that happens then weâ€™d have to shut up shop and move onto the next project. Which would be arranging reprints of the Target books.”