July 27, 2014

Beautiful Versions of Classics Books



As you may well know by following this blog, I adore reading and books. Yup, the actual printed, physical book. I love my ereader and have even purchased ebooks on it, but the vast majority of my personal library is printed books. 

Not only that, I've opted to get specific editions of books in my library. Most ordinary or average reader will most likely get a book to just have it - "Oh I feel like getting Narnia by CS Lewis...ah, there it is!" in the book store. 

Now, I only own a few books as 'collector's items' (not to be read but to 'kept', and I do read the books I own, but I still like to take care of them as best as I can. When it comes to getting a series of books (Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc..) to me, they all have to 'match'. I can't switch between hardback and paperback within a series - it just odd on the shelf to me. Also, preferably to have matching cover art.

There are a number of factors that go into why I get certain editions and formats of particular books. For starters, I'm not a really a big fan of the $10 mass market paperbacks. To me, that's the publisher saying 'Here is the cheapest possible ways of you owning this title....in both definitions of 'cheap'". What I like to take into account is price, size, quality of the printing (size of font, how good the paper is, etc..) and last but not least, the cover art. 

It was a combination of when I got into Tolkien and Harry Potter that triggered this. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy bookstores - you get to see all the various editions of The Hobbit, and select the one that appeals to you the most.

Recently, I've taken an interest in reading and collecting 'the classics'. 

I started with Penguin Classics, as they are the type of book I like - a nice trade paperback, good quality, pretty good font, some pretty good cover art etc... as I was looking for other books, I noticed that 'Modern Library' has some pretty good editions also. Since I got some titles in Penguin's classics format, I decided to stay with those for the most part. 

Then, I noticed that Chapters was selling some slightly younger classic stories (same content) as the Sterling Classics. These are hardbacks with pretty attractive dust jackets, and a ribbon bookmark. One of the stories that I saw that existed in that format was The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. Penguin, and I'm sure Modern Library have other King Arthur titles but I hadn't seen that one in particular by them. 

Finally, was Thunder Bay Press' 'Canterbury Classcis' and 'Word Cloud'. The 'Canterbury Classics' are among the most beautiful books I've ever seen. They are leatherbound, with a ribbon bookmarks, and gold edged pages. I'm not a fan of all the titles that exist in this format, but I've picked up a couple. Then there's the Word Cloud, which is leatherbound also, but more 'felixbound' like a leather jorunal that's flexible. Those are quite nice also. and I noticed, no offence meant to the publisher, but a 'watered down' version of the more 'prestine' Canterbury Classics. Say, The Divine Comedy exists as a Canterbury Classic. Well, in the Word Cloud, you get Dante's Inferno. Or, Canterbury will give you almost every Sherlock Holmes story there is in a huge book, but Word Cloud puts out The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

To conclude, if you want really nice editions of the classics, due check out "Penguin Classics", Modern Library's Classics, Canterbury Classics (as both leatherbound and Word Cloud flexibound) by Thunder Bay Press, and Sterling Classics.    

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