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Old 03-26-2020, 06:07 PM   #1
Mithadan
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Recommendations for a reading copy?

Quote:
"Reading Copy" - This is a term used in the used book business, to indicate the lack of collectible value, while claiming that the book is in sufficiently good condition for a purchaser whose interest is primarily in actually reading the book.
I have discussed elsewhere on these boards my history of acquiring Tolkien's writings. Today, I picked up my "reading copy" of LoTR (single volume, hardcover, circa 2004 - not the Big Red One) to secure a quote for a post I made earlier. The front cover was separating from the hinge, the text was separating from the covers and the spine was splitting. In short, any degree of handling will result in my single volume becoming a trilogy or more.

This is very annoying to me. As I have commented elsewhere, my first copy of LoTR (softcover, three volumes, Ballantine Books, the white ones with JRRT's own artwork on the covers) lasted nearly 25 years. Moreover, the demise of that copy was caused by an outside force; one of my kids tore it/them to pieces with great joy and relish.

The hardcover reading copy that I replaced it with about 15 years ago (and did not read nearly as often) was chosen with some thought. I wanted a robust and rugged copy, nothing special or rare, that would last and that I could handle comfortably. I apparently did not think enough when I selected this copy.

So, I am now seeking a new reading copy. I will emend the definition given above by clarifying that it need not be used. Nor do I specifically care whether it comes in one volume or three, or is hardcover or paperback. I am looking for an edition that will last and that I can read comfortably and without concern that my searching through it might cause it to disintegrate. I do prefer that it look nice (no movie tie-ins please). Also, I live in the US, to the extent that makes any difference.

Suggestions? Recommendations? And while we're at it, what is your favorite edition?
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:09 PM   #2
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I do have a hardback having got through too many deciduous paperbacks but what I actually use is the kindle edition. I have it always with me and the search and note functions are really helpful. I do have a kindle case designed to look like an original edition of the Hobbit.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:38 PM   #3
William Cloud Hicklin
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Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
I have discussed elsewhere on these boards my history of acquiring Tolkien's writings. Today, I picked up my "reading copy" of LoTR (single volume, hardcover, circa 2004 - not the Big Red One) to secure a quote for a post I made earlier. The front cover was separating from the hinge, the text was separating from the covers and the spine was splitting. In short, any degree of handling will result in my single volume becoming a trilogy or more.

This is very annoying to me. As I have commented elsewhere, my first copy of LoTR (softcover, three volumes, Ballantine Books, the white ones with JRRT's own artwork on the covers) lasted nearly 25 years. Moreover, the demise of that copy was caused by an outside force; one of my kids tore it/them to pieces with great joy and relish.

The hardcover reading copy that I replaced it with about 15 years ago (and did not read nearly as often) was chosen with some thought. I wanted a robust and rugged copy, nothing special or rare, that would last and that I could handle comfortably. I apparently did not think enough when I selected this copy.

So, I am now seeking a new reading copy. I will emend the definition given above by clarifying that it need not be used. Nor do I specifically care whether it comes in one volume or three, or is hardcover or paperback. I am looking for an edition that will last and that I can read comfortably and without concern that my searching through it might cause it to disintegrate. I do prefer that it look nice (no movie tie-ins please). Also, I live in the US, to the extent that makes any difference.

Suggestions? Recommendations? And while we're at it, what is your favorite edition?

Sadly, the standards of bookbinding have descended very, very r4apidly over the last 30 years or so.

If you really want a last-forever reading copy, see if you can find one surplused from a library in library rebinding- built like a bomb shelter, that is.
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Old 03-27-2020, 09:48 PM   #4
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Perhaps a secondhand copy of the Ballantyne gold box that isn't in mint condition?
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Old 03-28-2020, 04:44 PM   #5
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I have amused myself, considering the amount of relatively free time that I have on my hands right now, by browsing eBay for an appropriate reading copy. This is the first time in roughly 15 years that I have looked for LoTR on eBay. I recall that prices, during the movie years, were somewhat absurd and expected that, with the passage of time, some degree of realism would have set in.

Based upon what I have seen, it appears that I have several thousand dollars of Tolkien books on my bookshelf. Since I doubt that this is the case, I will show some patience or will look to other marketplaces. Perhaps I am being cynical, but I simply do not believe that a mid-1970s boxed hardcover set of LoTR from an unremarkable publisher could be worth upwards of $1500 USD (and I have far more collectible versions sitting about; again, I am looking for a reading copy that will last a while).

Yes, Mark12_30, I may choose a lightly worn set of the Ballantine paperbacks from the early 1970s. But can anyone provide an opinion of the "new" deluxe Houghton Mifflin set with leatherette covers? Not joking....

*tries hard not to make a bad joke about "warm... leatherette..."
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:43 AM   #6
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But can anyone provide an opinion of the "new" deluxe Houghton Mifflin set with leatherette covers? Not joking....
Well, in terms of durability the 50th Anniversary leather-bound deluxe US Houghton Mifflin one-volume is very well constructed indeed, although maybe a bit too "nice" - and bulky - for a daily reader. (Sadly, the HarperCollins UK ed isn't nearly of the same standard).
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:16 PM   #7
Mithadan
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Thank you.

The last thing I need is another edition that I will be tempted to display on a shelf.

I have opted for a (hopefully) lightly handled early 1970s Ballantine paperback edition. I will let you know how it pans out.
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
Sadly, the standards of bookbinding have descended very, very r4apidly over the last 30 years or so.

If you really want a last-forever reading copy, see if you can find one surplused from a library in library rebinding- built like a bomb shelter, that is.
Second looking for a post library owned copy. I used to collect old library copies on ebay or at some of our local university bookstores once they'd gone out of circulation and they're hardy!
My HMCo copy of The Hobbit from '73 was originally a library copy and it's survived wonderfully.
Library copies are not the best for 'collecting', but I've always preferred them for character, utility, and preservation.
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