30 Posts in 30 Days #24: Books as art

Slither by Edward LeeOn the off chance you weren’t already aware of this, I’m a book lover. So much so that I do collect limited editions, mostly of horror authors. I have a book bound in tie-dyed denim, one in circus tent cloth, and another bound in lizard skin. My most recent is one of 26 copies of Slither by Edward Lee. Although the binding is very well done, not like the typical hardcover you’d find in a Barnes & Noble, the real uniqueness of this edition if the metal slipcase with a hinged door. Yeah, reading an ePub version of this would be the same experience… Not!

(Click on the image for more photos of this book.)

6 Replies to “30 Posts in 30 Days #24: Books as art”

  1. Yeah, I’ll admit there is definitely a difference between reading something like that and an eBook. Thing is (and this is a personal thing, so your mileage may vary – in fact, I’m sure it does), I’d actually *read* the eBook, whereas the only thing I’d want to do with a special edition like that is put it on my shelf and admire it (and show it off to friends).

    Interesting thing, though, since I got a Kindle for Christmas last year. Well, two interesting things:

    1) I buy hardly any physical books anymore, except of the coffee table art book variety and the odd graphic novel. My interest in a title actually kind of wanes if it’s not available electronically, now.

    2) For the first time in my life, I’ve actually started thinking seriously about collecting 1st edition/special edition/limited edition books of favorite authors to have as collector’s items or conversation pieces (rather than as something to be read – that’s what the electronic edition is for). Haven’t actually made the plunge yet, but I have started thinking.

    Of course, there’s one other major consideration for me that I know doesn’t apply to you – I am an apartment dweller. I have been an apartment dweller for over a decade, and I intend to remain so for the forseable future. This severely limits my bookshelf space. But I have to say, the idea of moving the bulk of my book collection to electronic format while retaining a small physical collection of special editions seems to be the perfect sweet spot for me.

    But whether you actually read them or not, those special editions of yours are most definitely art.

  2. I can totally see how the apartment thing would be a problem. Let’s just say that movers despise me. One mover in the past said that the only person he moved that was worse than me was a geology professor. He literally was moving boxes of rocks for that guy.

    As for reading these editions, in many cases I do. For example, I did read Slither and many of my others since they’re the only editions I have and if I didn’t read those I wouldn’t read them at all. In some cases, such as with my Dean Koontz collection in which I have many multiple editions of a particular title, chances are by the time I’ve received the limited edition I’ve already read another copy.

    When it comes to the authors you’re considering collecting I’d love to know who they are. I might be able to offer some advice as to reliable and reasonably-priced sellers. (There are a few particular sellers I tend to work with online and highly recommend, even if you’re not into horror.)

  3. Heh, yeah, even with my modest library (most of which are paperbacks, no less), movers ain’t too fond of me either. Even though my shelf-space is limited, I still have a reasonable library (though smaller now that I’m going electronic), and I’ve always gotten the comment, “Wow, you sure have a lot of books.” during every move.

    And I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of reading the limited edition stuff (and I know how to be careful and not damage stuff). Though they aren’t really special editions I have the pseudo-leather-bound and slipcased editions of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and even though I also have the electronic editions, I’m still fond of paging though those hardbacks – I love the artwork, and that lovely, lovely large-scale fold out map in LotR. But for me, the joy of reading has always been way more about getting lost in the story (or in learning something new, in the case of non-fiction) and less about interacting with the book itself, so I didn’t find the transition to electronic all that jarring.

    Still, for favorite authors, I am starting to find myself seriously tempted by the idea of a physical collection. And since you asked, here are a few faves (I’m a sci-fi and fantasy fan more than horror, as you’ll see): Terry Pratchett (and I’m just about ready to jump to the British editions of his stuff from now on because I love Paul Kidby’s cover art and the American covers are, frankly, boring), Jasper Fforde (again, the British editions tempt me because the cover art tends to be a little quirkier), John Scalzi, Neil Gaiman, and Spider Robinson. I’m also fairly intrigued by Cory Doctorow’s “A Little Help” project, and am contemplating picking up some physical version or other just to show my support. There are also some classic (read, fairly-long-deceased) authors I’m quite fond of that I’m sure I will never be able to afford 1st editions of (Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, and Alfred Bester in particular), but I can dream….

    So, hey, if you’ve got suggestions for sellers, please pass them along.

  4. Well, the one specific recommendation I can make based on your author list is Subterranean Press (subterraneanpress.com), specifically for John Scalzi material. They’ve published limited editions of several of his titles and there are plans for more from what I’ve heard.

    Also, I’m so in on a print copy of With A Little Help as soon as their available!

  5. Oooo, yeah… I could drop a lot of money at Subterranean (for starters, my birthday’s in a little over a month, and if they’ve still got copies of Scalzi’s “The Last Colony” I think it may become a birthday gift to myself). I’ve known about them for a while, but have avoided visiting the site, lest I be tempted. I’ve now visited, and, not surprisingly, have been tempted

    Um, I’m about to jump down the rabbit hole, aren’t I?

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