In 1929, Dr. Frederick Ritter and Dore Strauch fled post-World War I Germany and settled on the dry, uninhabited volcanic island of Floreana in the Galapagos chain, west of Ecuador.
What happened to them and a handful of other settlers there became one of the most lurid and lasting scandals of the 20th century, prompting Strauch to write a book entitled, “Satan Came to Eden: A Survivor’s Account of the ‘Galapagos Affair,’ ” published in 1934.
The conflict among the settlers, inflamed by the arrival of a second family and then a pistol-packing, self-proclaimed Austrian “baroness” and her two young lovers, ultimately culminated in deaths on the island, surrounded by suspicion. The baroness disappeared, never to be heard from again. The story resurfaced in newspapers and magazines for decades.
“The story died down and the book went out of print,” said independent publisher Joseph Troise of Sonoma, who has put a new paperback edition of the book on sale at Amazon.com.
Troise intends the book to be the first in a series he plans to call “Out of Print But Not Out of Mind.” He was inspired to start with the Strauch book after Los Angeles filmmakers released a documentary on the case this year, “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden.” Troise had stumbled onto an original copy of the Strauch book in a thrift store.
“It’s worth $400 now,” he said.
After extensive research, Troise discovered he could legally reprint books that had become part of the public domain once the copyrights expired.
“My idea of reprinting rare and out-of-print books was spurred by the rise of the print-on-demand phenomenon,” Troise explained.
“The book isn’t printed and shipped until after it’s been ordered online.”
That means there are no unsold copies, and no expensive mass shipping and storage costs.
At age 71, Troise said he’s pleased to start a new chapter in a long career devoted to education, writing, editing and publishing.
Born in New York City, Troise served in the late 1960s as assistant director for financial aid for the graduate school at Columbia University. In the early 1970s, he was education editor at the large book publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, overseeing its line of college textbooks.
Troise moved to California in 1978 and became a freelance writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.
He also collaborated with cartoonist Phil Frank, creator of “Travels With Farley” and “The Elderberries,” contributing some puns and jokes.
Single, with no children, Troise settled in Sonoma in 2010.
“In the freelance business, you’re always looking for creative ways to reinvent yourself and face the dramatic changes caused by the Internet,” Troise said.
Excited by the possibilities for his “Out of Print” series, Troise is busy looking for other potential entries.
He doesn’t want to tip off potential competitors, but candidates include a book about Vietnam from the French perspective, before the United States intervened in the war there, and another on the rapid changes in car design during the early decades of automobile manufacture.
Troise also hopes the print-on-demand approach can help support local book stores.
“This way, it’s possible to stock local book stores with books on local history, which are always a tough sell with big publishers,” he said.
Stand up for laughter
What: “Stand Up Sonoma: A Comedy Benefit,” Nick Kroll, Chris D’Elia, Nikki Glaser, Kyle Kinane and Chris Porter
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4
Where: Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa.
Admission: $55-$125, SOLD OUT
Information: 707-546-3600, lutherburbankcenter.org.
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