February 25, 2007

Through a wild turn of events, I managed to get ahold of one of Hill House's LETTERED editions of American Gods. It's quite a production and will definitely go into the Library of Spires. The box for the book is so tall that it won't fit on the topmost shelf of my bookcase due to the lip. And the marble face makes it HEAVY! The thing probably weighs a good eight to ten pounds. Look for an extensive review of it in the coming days.

I was looking over Millipede Press' website today (boy, do I wish I could afford those books) and stumbled across a newsletter that, to my surprise, critiqued the manufacturing aspects of several well-known independents. It can be accessed via www.millipedepress.com/newsletter as a PDF. I was pleased to see that the authors (mainly Chris Hansen) didn't pull many punches. Although the essays are mostly about how well the books in question are written, they delve into the packaging, as well. It's a relief to know that I'm not the only voice in this wilderness.

I received a lettered edition a few days ago from one of the most well-known publishers "out there". I'm not going to post a review of it here, as there's bigger fish to fry, but it came with a chapbook. For those of you unfamiliar, a chapbook is a very small pamphlet-like booklet that can be bound with glue & boards or just with staples. This one was hardbound. Which was nice and all, except there was a problem. It didn't fit inside the traycase with the main book. It now has to sit on its own place on my bookshelf. Since it's so small, you'd probably not notice it unless you knew it was there. And since it is small, there's a very real chance it might get lost in a major move.


This doubly irritated me because the publisher touted that the lettered edition of this book included an additional section not in the numbered version. I had ASSumed this meant an extra chapter or something in the book itself, not a completely separate production. Because of this, there's really nothing special about the lettered version over the numbered (besides the traycase).


I'm getting really tired of this practice of charging tons more for a lettered edition when the book itself is the same (or nearly so) as its numbered counterpart. All the extra chapbooks in the world won't make things better.

A similar situation occurred with A Storm of Swords. I had expected embedded ribbon bookmarks in each volume, since Meisha included them with their lettered Ice and Fire books, but instead received six paper bookmarks in a separate shipping container. I didn't know what else to do with them, so I got the lot framed. I'm really happy with the framing job, but the issue is the same - they're not part of the volumes themselves. Ergo, I can't keep them with the volumes themselves. Ergo, the volumes themselves have nothing value-added in my (highly critical) eyes.

SubPress' forthcoming edition of A Feast for Crows continues this (unfortunate) trend. Early purchasers will be receiving chapbooks of Tom Canty's sketches. Sounds cool, right? Canty's a terrific artist. Except what about some gilt or embedded bookmarks or slipcase onlays? The money going towards these chapbooks COULD be used for these value-enhancing elements, instead. AND THEY'D BE PART OF THE BOOK, not some small doodad that might get lost in a shuffle.

Am I the only one who thinks like this? Probably, regrettably so.