Do I collect books? No, but I have a lot of books. And I do own four copies of each of the Brontës’ seven novels, bought for the cover art.
I usually prefer paperbacks. They’re light and portable, and somehow feel more daring. I love lounging on the sofa and reading a nearly weightless paperback.
But lately I’ve switched to hardcovers. Have I stopped lounging? No. Wait for it… I AM ALLERGIC TO PAPERBACKS. And I wonder: should this be happening outside an underground comic book?
Much to my chagrin, a strong bleach-based spray cleanser gave me a case of contact dermatitis. And that’s why I was reading Vanity Fair in a Penguin hardcover, because my the paper in the old paperback is too acidic.
The rash has cleared up. It’s enough to make me a collector of hardcovers, though.
I do enjoy other people’s book collections, even though I’m not a collector. In the latest issue of the TLS, Nicholas Murray writes about collecting the original World’s Classics hardcover series. He says these tiny books were “launched in 1901 by Grant Richards and bought by Henry Frowde of Oxford University Press in 1905. It ran until the mid-1970s, publishing well over 600 titles. The name survives in OUP’s current paperback library of classic editions, originally ‘World’s Classics’ and renamed Oxford World’s Classics in 1998.”
I have the World’s Classics hardcover edition of George Moore’s Esther Waters. I found it years ago at a used bookstore.
I certainly would like that edition of Katherine Mansfield! But I already HAVE a Katherine Mansfield. (You can buy it for about $10 on Etsy..)
2 thoughts on “Hardcover Collections & Paperback Allergies”
I have collected books, especially the little Everyman’s Library hardbacks and The World’s Classics hardbacks. But I have fifteen Everyman’s John Ruskin’s books that I know I’ll ever read, so I now just admire those I see in used book stores. I now usually buy only ‘throw away’ books, books I’ll read (maybe) and then pass on to a library sale. By the way, it looks like you have my favorite copy of Wuthering Heights, the one illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
I have seen more small Everyman hardcovers than The World’s Classics. Once I accidentally ordered a used Oxford hardcover of Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right, not realizing it was a miniature. It really was too small for me to read 1,000 pages. I do like the idea of collecting hardcovers. Still, I don’t have room anymore.
On Sun, Apr 28, 2019 at 8:54 AM Thornfield Hall: A Book Blog wrote: