Last night I was browsing Amazon, intending to finally purchase a copy of The Lord of the Rings. I've always wanted a set of my own, and I had some Christmas money to use to buy it. The experience made me realize just how picky I can be about the books I buy, particularly if it's a book that I care about. This is one of them. I actually did not purchase any copy as I finally decided this one was too important to not buy in a bookstore and physically handle the books before making the purchase.
The first thing that I want in any book that I anticipate being read repeatedly is a hardback cover. Paperbacks just don't hold up well. I don't know how libraries manage with the decline in quality books. Achieving this desire is complicated by multiple collector's editions that were purported to be leather covers. That sounds like a decoration piece to me, not something intended to be well-read and well-loved. I want hardback. End of discussion.
Binding. This is where my nerdiness really starts taking monstrous form. I'm actually picky about binding. Or I would be if the manufacturers actually made books with sewn binding. That's right. Sewn. Not glued. The vast majority of books these days have glued binding, and it falls apart after three to five readings. Not something you want in a book that you would one day like to pass down to your children and grandchildren. Most Bibles still have sewn binding in anticipation of being read often. It's another quality in manufacturing that I'm sure librarians around the country are constantly bemoaning. Or at least the ones in my old home-town library were.
A few years back, someone decided to make a movie--or rather a trilogy of movies--based on my beloved childhood tale. I'm not saying it was an awful idea, but there's one thing that this spawns that I absolutely cannot stand. They print books with covers with movie art. I don't want Elijah Wood's face on my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. Nothing against him personally, I just don't like it. It was extremely hard to tell online if the books had movie art on them, so it was another factor to me deciding to simply buy in person.
The online reviews were a nightmare. They were very helpful in a way. One of them specifically warned about an edition that was riddled with typographical errors, definitely something I would try to avoid purchasing. The problem was that I was finding the exact same reviews on multiple editions of the same book. How was I supposed to know which one they were talking about? It was highly frustrating.
In the end I decided that I haven't been inside a bookshop in quite a while and it would probably be good therapy to hold new books again in the near future. I can judge for myself the cover, binding, and illustrations, and hopefully make sure I don't get a copy full of misspelled words. Now to see what bookstores are in my area...