August 22, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: "Do Not Read" Editions

"Books are meant to read!" I hear some of you crying aloud. I definitely agree. However, there are certain editions of certain books that appeal to collectors. Whether we want a nicer edition beyond a possibly spectacular hardback editions for our own reading, or for 'holding on to', collecting books, especially Tolkien books is definitely a popular thing.

What initially attracted me to collecting them, is that I saw some of the prices the original editions (first edition, first print, first impression...) are going for. It's crazy to see how much some are worth, and how much they sell for. Also, look at other items over the years. Namely, Star Wars action figures still in the box, etc.

I own two 'sets' of Tolkien books. There are my hardback editions for reading and using (although taking care of them as best as I can), and there are my 'do not read editions'. These, as you've guessed are not reading, and were purchased with that in mind. Will I retire off the funds I earn from selling them in about 30-40 (or more) years? Will I leave them for my children to hold onto and not use to inherit and get them rich? I've no idea at this point, but they are meant for long term. Very long term. Some of them are, where applicable, are still factory sealed. They will remain in that plastic for many years and many, many months.

I'm going to reveal to you which editions I've selected for 'do not read' categorization, and why. But first, as a general intro to those editions, and why I generally own them.

My 'reading' copies are the hardback editions of what Harper Collins has published as deluxe editions, in terms of title and publisher. For example, on my shelf I own The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, Tales From the Perilous Realm, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur, Beowulf, and The Story of Kullervo. All of those titles have, or will have, the deluxe slipcased treatment by Harper Collins. Aside from a few bells and whistles or minor differences, content-wise, they are identical. The mentality behind me buying a Tolkien book, and in hardback, is based on: "Oh! A new Tolkien book! Harper Collins is also publishing a deluxe version as well? OK, I'll get the standard non-deluxe hardback. Harper Collins has enough faith that this title will sell, so I'll add the standard version to The Shelf."

Some of you may think that 'limits' my Tolkien shopping. Not so. I also own an e-reader and have some Tolkien titles on that which I don't physically own. Example, Sir Gawain. There's been no deluxe version by Harper Collins recently, so I've got that as an ebook title. Aside from that, I own quite a few books, so some 'sacrifice' has to be made.

Now, I'll mention why I've gotten some of these editions. I will list them below, but bear with me for a second.

I live in Canada. For certain things, such as books, we either get the American edition, or the UK edition. In the case of Tolkien books, 9/10 we get the UK editions by Harper Collins. Mos of my 'do not read' are American editions, because it's different, even by a different publisher house at the least, from my UK hardback reading editions.

Onto my "other" collection.....

Collector’s Edition, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780395177112
Product info: “This deluxe collector's edition of Tolkien's modern classic is boxed and bound in green leatherette with gold and red foil rune stamping on the spine and cover. The text pages are printed in black with green accents. It includes five full page illustrations in full color and many more in two colors, in addition to Thror's map -- all prepared by the author.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: it's different than the UK deluxe edition of The Hobbit, in terms of design. It's also attractive, and has a timeless feel about it. I found this to be the nicest edition offered by Houghton Mifflin.

50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618517657
Product info: “Fifty years and nearly one hundred million American readers later comes a beautiful new one-volume collector’s edition befitting the stature of this crown jewel of our list. The text is fully corrected under the supervision of Christopher Tolkien to meet the author’s exacting wishes and includes two large-format fold-out maps, a ribbon placemarker, gilded page edges, a color insert depicting Tolkien's own paintings of the Book of Mazarbul and exceptionally elegant and sturdy overall packaging housed within an attractive slipcase.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: of all the 'differences' between the US & UK deluxe editions, this is the one I cite the most often. Here's an image of the UK, to compare: 

As you can see, its quite different. I got this one to have one of, if not the nicest edition published by Houghton Mifflin. Also, because of the fact it's so different from the UK Harper Collins one, aesthetically.

Hardback, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618642670
Product info: “In The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion internationally acclaimed scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull examine Tolkien's masterpiece chapter by chapter, offering expert insights into its evolution, structure, and meaning. They discuss in close detail important literary and historical influences on the development of The Lord of the Rings, connections between that work and other writings by Tolkien, errors and inconsistencies, significant changes to the text during its fifty years of publication, archaic and unusual words used by Tolkien, and words and passages in his invented languages of Middle-earth. Thousands of notes, keyed to standard editions of The Lord of the Rings but universally accessible, reveal the richness and complexity of one of the most popular works of fiction in our time. In addition to their own expertise and that of other scholars and critics, Hammond and Scull frequently draw upon comments by Tolkien himself, made in letters to family, friends, and enthusiasts, in draft texts of The Lord of the Rings, and in works written in later years which amplify or illuminate characters and events in the story. Extensive reference is made also to writings by Tolkien not previously or widely published, including elaborate time-schemes, an unfinished manuscript index to The Lord of the Rings, and most notably, the important Nomenclature or guide to names in The Lord of the Rings prepared for the use of translators, long out of print and now newly transcribed and printed in its entirety. With these resources at hand, even the most seasoned reader of The Lord of the Rings will come to a greater enjoyment and appreciation of Tolkien's magnificent achievement.”

Never read, in very fine / near-mint condition. Stored on a bookshelf properly away from light. Any possible extremely minor dents or creases to the dustjacket would be from initial purchase (was bought and shipped online, as new not used) or during shipping / transportation.

Why I got it: to complement the edition of The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary deluxe edition. I fully intend to 'pair' the two.

Hardback, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618135042
Product info: “This second edition features a number of minor textual corrections along with a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien describing his intentions for the work, written more than twenty-five years before its eventual publication. As described by Christopher Tolkien in the preface, it serves as a brilliant exposition of his conception of the earlier Ages of Middle-earth.”

Never read, in very fine / near-mint condition. Stored on a bookshelf properly away from light. Any possible extremely minor dents or creases to the dustjacket would be from initial purchase (was bought and shipped online, as new not used) or during shipping / transportation.

Why I got it: as I mentioned in another post (and will quickly do so again here) there aren't that many editions of The Silmarillion. I found this to be the nicest (non illustrated) edition, and only one in hardback offered by Houghton Mifflin.

Hardback, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618154043
Product info: “A New York Times bestseller for twenty-one weeks upon publication, UNFINISHED TALES is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and further relates events as told in THE SILMARILLION and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. The book concentrates on the lands of Middle-earth and comprises Gandalf's lively account of how he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End, the story of the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand, and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan and the journey of the Black Riders during the hunt for the Ring. UNFINISHED TALES also contains the only surviving story about the long ages of NĂºmenor before its downfall, and all that is known about the Five Wizards sent to Middle-earth as emissaries of the Valar, about the Seeing Stones known as the Palantiri, and about the legend of Amroth. Writing of the Appendices to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, J.R.R. Tolkien said in 1955, "Those who enjoy the book as a 'heroic romance' only, and find 'unexplained vistas' part of the literary effect, will neglect the Appendices, very properly." UNFINISHED TALES is avowedly for those who, to the contrary, have not yet sufficiently explored Middle-earth, its languages, its legends, it politics, and its kings.”

Never read, in very fine / near-mint condition. Stored on a bookshelf properly away from light. Any possible extremely minor dents or creases to the dustjacket would be from initial purchase (was bought and shipped online, as new not used) or during shipping / transportation.

Why I got it: not to be lazy in this post, but really, the exact same reason as for The Silmarillion listed above.

Deluxe Edition, Harper Collins. ISBN: 9780007252237
Product info: “This deluxe collector's edition features the first edition text and eight full-colour plates, with an exclusive colour frontispiece illustration. The book is quarterbound with a special gold motif stamped on the front board and is presented in a matching slipcase.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: This one isn't by Houghton Mifflin, but by Harper Collins, intentionally. The reason for it, is that there are a few why I got this one: a) It could be the last new Middle-earth material published as a text, not counting deluxe, anniversary, or iullustrated editions in the future b) I didn't want to shell out the cash for the Super Deluxe Edition c) marketing wise, The Children of Hurin seemed to have been the biggest Tolkien event since The Silmarillion was published, so I wished to 'mark' the occasion with an extra special purchase.

Deluxe Edition, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780547296289
Product info: “"The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun" is a previously unpublished work by J.R.R. Tolkien, written while Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford during the 1920s and '30s, before he wrote" The Hobbit" and" The Lord of the Rings." It makes available for the first time Tolkien's extensive retelling in English narrative verse of the epic Norse tales of Sigurd the Volsung and The Fall of the Niflungs.""It includes an introduction by J.R.R. Tolkien, drawn from one of his own lectures on Norse literature, with commentary and notes on the poems by Christopher Tolkien.”

Still factory-sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: there are a few reasons: a) Again, I did not wish to shell out the money for the Super variant. b) At the time, the one offered by Houghton Mifflin was more readily available, and cheaper, than the Harper Collins edition c) this is the last time (as of 2016) that Houghton Mifflin and Harper Collins produced an identical deluxe edition. Also, it is the final (as of now) deluxe or slipcased collector's / deluxe edition that Houghton Mifflin published the same day (or very close to it) of another version of the same book.

THE HOBBIT (illustrated edition):
Deluxe Edition, Harper Collins. ISBN: 9780007497911
Product info: This special slipcased edition is bound in red cloth with an exclusive wraparound dragon design in gold foil. The first new illustrated edition of The Hobbit for more than 15 years contains 150 brand new colour illustrations. Artist Jemima Catlin's charming and lively interpretation brings Tolkien's beloved characters to life in a way that will entice and entertain a new generation of readers.

Still factory sealed, never opened. Book essentially in brand new / mint condition

Why I got it: do I regret owning the other 'do not read' Hobbit, or my reading copy? No. This was published well after I had both. It seemed to be another slight publishing sensation. Houghton Mifflin did not do a deluxe edition (nor have they done a 'same time' release of a new book, or edition of one, since The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. So I snagged this one up. The cost wasn't too high (if it were I would have gone for the standard hardback by either Houghton Mifflin or Harper Collins) plus I also managed to get a discount of sorts....and stock was running low. Also, as far as deluxe editions go by either publishing house, this is one of the finer ones.

And those are my books! I don't expect, or intend to get that much or many more in the future. It could happen! I'm expecting 2-3 more in total over the course of time but we'll have to see....I admit I am eyeing the 60th anniversary illustrated Lord of the Rings by Harper Collins to 'pair up' with the Jemima Catlin deluxe Hobbit....

I hope you enjoyed this look at my "special collection." I have no idea how much this whole set, or specific books listed, may go for in the future.

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