More on Mass Market Paperbacks aka One Book That Ruled Them All

I just checked my email and received an eblast from Tor.Com (one of my favorite publishers) which included the article below, which expands on my less-well-researched post from yesterday.



How The Lord of the Rings Changed Publishing Forever

Last week marked the anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, prompting Alan Brown to take a look back at the 1965 Ballantine paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings, which ushered in a new age for both Middle-earth and the publishing industry—and, of course, helped changed the lives of generations of fans in the process.

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Higher Expectations for a First Edition Hardcover

No, I’m not talking about the content composed by the author (in this case Robert V.S. Redick) but rather the publisher or the publishing industry (in this case Del Rey Ballantine Books an imprint of Random House) lack of polish or finish on this first edition hardcover of The Ruling Sea:

Uneven/untrimmed Book Signatures on First Edition Hardcover
Uneven/untrimmed Book Signatures on First Edition Hardcover

Do you see the unevenness of the pages?  This is one of the final steps when you bind a book.  You trim the edges of the book signatures so they are flush and even (makes for easy fanning of a book with your thumb).  I’ve even done this process myself (with my dad’s help as he had the razor sharp chisel and vice in his basement workshop).  I’m appalled when I see a first edition hardcover in this state.

Is this becoming more common from the publishing industry?  When I see a book like the one displayed above, I think it’s a reprint by a low-budget or discount publisher, not a first edition!  Sheesh!

Perhaps I’m just overly sensitive.   I would have hesitated to buy this book for this very reason.  As it stands, I’m only borrowing it from a library, but still.  Come on!

First Edition Hardcover via Interlibrary Loan of the Ruling Sea
First Edition Hardcover via Interlibrary Loan of the Ruling Sea