Which hardback edition of LOTR to buy?

Hugh

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#1
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I'm intending to read the LOTR soon and would like to purchase an up to date hardback copy with all the trimmings i.e. fold out maps, appendices, whatever. I'm confused by the multitude of options available on Amazon. While I'm not up to a deluxe edition, I would like a decent copy to add to the reading experience.

From Amazon, I'm interested in this:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0007581149/?tag=brite-21

This seems to have the added advantage of including a copy of Hammond & Scull's "The LOTR, A Reader's Companion", which I assume is worth reading alongside the LOTR.
(Another confusion: there seem to be so many Tolkien "Companions").

I'll be grateful for any advice.

NB: I haven't read the LOTR for at least fifteen years. I do have an early 1970s UK paperback without appendices (other than Aragorn/Arwen). I also have, courtesy of my parents, very battered first editions.
 
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Matteo

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#2
There are a ridiculous number of versions of LOTR out there. I replaced my battered single volume paperback version when the 7 volume Millennium hb edition came out - and it's very nice.

The version you link to sounds like a lovely version but I can't speak from personal experience and reading the reviews on Amazon is no good since they relate to various other versions (including single volumes) and even The Hobbit!

By the way...look here: J R R Tolkien The Lord of the Rings Collection 4 Books Boxed Set Special Edition | 9780007581146 | Buy Books
 

Hugh

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#3
There are a ridiculous number of versions of LOTR out there. I replaced my battered single volume paperback version when the 7 volume Millennium hb edition came out - and it's very nice.

The version you link to sounds like a lovely version but I can't speak from personal experience and reading the reviews on Amazon is no good since they relate to various other versions (including single volumes) and even The Hobbit!

By the way...look here: J R R Tolkien The Lord of the Rings Collection 4 Books Boxed Set Special Edition | 9780007581146 | Buy Books
Many thanks for replying. I think this must be your 7 volume set:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0261103873/?tag=brite-21

It looks truly excellent, though perhaps more than I want to pay. The key point for me though is not the money, just that I have a certain nostalgia for the three volume format, even though that was a compromise at the time of original publication.

Thank you also for putting me onto Snazal. It may well broaden my horizons: I've never progressed beyond Abebooks (usually the cheaper of the two) or Amazon.
 

Extollager

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#4
That boxed set of the three volumes of LotR with the Companion looks grand! I didn't know there was such a thing; and the price is surprisingly low. I hope that doesn't mean that deleterious shortcuts were taken with the physical manufacture of the books.
 

Hugh

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#5
That boxed set of the three volumes of LotR with the Companion looks grand! I didn't know there was such a thing; and the price is surprisingly low. I hope that doesn't mean that deleterious shortcuts were taken with the physical manufacture of the books.
It does look good doesn't it!
Yes, I'd wondered about the possibility of a disappointingly cheap production.
Hence hoping for some feedback here....
 

HareBrain

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#6
That boxed set you linked to looks pretty thin -- possibly half the thickness of my 1986 Publishers Guild set. Though that has probably the weightiest paper I've seen, probably 25% heavier than my 1967 edition. I tend to prefer thicker paper myself for a pleasant reading experience. (I once found a "luxury" India-paper LOTR, which must have been terrible to read.)

I've seen at least one of the individual books that make up that boxed set in the local Waterstones. I can check them tomorrow to see how thin they are, if that might help.
 

Matteo

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#7
Many thanks for replying. I think this must be your 7 volume set:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0261103873/?tag=brite-21

It looks truly excellent, though perhaps more than I want to pay. The key point for me though is not the money, just that I have a certain nostalgia for the three volume format, even though that was a compromise at the time of original publication.

Thank you also for putting me onto Snazal. It may well broaden my horizons: I've never progressed beyond Abebooks (usually the cheaper of the two) or Amazon.
Yes, that's the one. It was actually a gift from my mother (who wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday and I had read that it had just been released) - and then scoured Cardiff for a copy (I think they were very limited) and eventually found a single one in a shop that was going to return it because the cellophane wrapping was ripped. I was very lucky to get one. It's a little unusual to have the books split into the six "books" that come in the three normal books but actually a nice way of reading it.

The first I heard of Snazel was today; I searched on the ISBN of the version you saw on Amazon (because the reviews were so confusing) and it came up. As far as I can they only sell new books and the site looks legit - but who can tell. I think I saw p&p was free (to UK) so it seems like a great deal compared to Amazon.

As for that particular version, ignoring the Amazon reviews, there must be a site somewhere that compares all the various versions of LOTR that have been released. But I would guess that this is good one.

Good luck.
 

Hugh

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#8
That boxed set you linked to looks pretty thin -- possibly half the thickness of my 1986 Publishers Guild set. Though that has probably the weightiest paper I've seen, probably 25% heavier than my 1967 edition. I tend to prefer thicker paper myself for a pleasant reading experience. (I once found a "luxury" India-paper LOTR, which must have been terrible to read.)

I've seen at least one of the individual books that make up that boxed set in the local Waterstones. I can check them tomorrow to see how thin they are, if that might help.
The highest placed Amazon review refers to:
"Paper quality: High-quality paper, cream-coloured, and relatively fine".
Of course this may refer to a completely different set.
This does worry me. Like you I'd prefer the "thicker paper myself for a pleasant reading experience". It'd be kind of nice to have a version that feels comfortable and is likely to last.

If it's no significant bother, it'd be really great of you to have a look in Waterstones, and give me an opinion. I visited Waterstones today, but it was all paperbacks.
 

Hugh

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#9
scoured Cardiff for a copy (I think they were very limited) and eventually found a single one in a shop that was going to return it because the cellophane wrapping was ripped. I was very lucky to get one.
Fantastic!
 

hitmouse

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#10
LOTR is a terrific book, and it stands on its own merits. I would humbly suggest that you find a standard copy of the book and just (re)read it. You can fetishise it afterwards if you still feel so moved.
I read an old 1970s Unwin combined copy (below) and it worked just fine for me. I have bought and read various other editions over the subsequent 40 years.

 

Hugh

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#11
LOTR is a terrific book, and it stands on its own merits. I would humbly suggest that you find a standard copy of the book and just (re)read it. You can fetishise it afterwards if you still feel so moved.
I read an old 1970s Unwin combined copy (below) and it worked just fine for me. I have bought and read various other editions over the subsequent 40 years.

Yes, I have that one. Bought early 70s. No fold out maps, no appendices to speak of. I'm looking to upgrade.
 

Extollager

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#12
I read an old 1970s Unwin combined copy (below) and it worked just fine for me.
I admit -- when I decide it's time to reread LotR, I usually pick my worn old Ballantine paperbacks with the Barbara Remington cover designs. However, I do have a red single-volume hardcover edition from the mid-1970s and a 1980s Return of the King with foldout maps. But with Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth, I'm not sure how important the foldout maps are. My red hardcover has a few changes penciled in from when I read it aloud to one of my daughters, she following along in her more recent edition and noting a few changes. Sound like drudgery? She loved it.
 

Matteo

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#13
I've been looking around to see if there are any decent sites comparing versions - just because this thread has pricked my curiosity. There are a few forum discussions and they seem to go for either the 50th Anniversary single volume, or the three volume version with illustrations by Allen Lee. But they don't give any really detailed reviews as such - simply "these are great".

Other sites also rate very highly the version you've linked to but again the reviews are not very detailed. On that point, there is an interesting discussion here about the difference between the 50th (difficult to find) and 60th (available) anniversary issues of the box set you've linked to; seems as though the 60th is of lesser quality but that could be read with a pinch of salt.

There is also an astonishingly detailed comparison of the accuracy of the different published versions - by the people that wrote/compiled the Companion that is in that set.

There are some very deluxe versions out there which go for hundreds of pounds and a wealth of cheaper versions. (Incidentally, my previous version (which I still have) was this one).

My mind is now well and truly boggled...

Very strange I've never some across Snazal before - because I tend to hunt around websites for books (not just stick to the obvious Amazon). But they seem to have been trading for some years as a wholesaler first and foremost - which perhaps why the prices are good. Not many reviews either which is odd.
 

The Judge

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#14
If it's of any help or interest, I've got a three volume hardback set, which is the 1973 edition on this page TolkienBooks.net - The Lord of the Rings Three Volumes - 1954-1979 (Oddly, which I'd never noticed before, the first volume is the 14th Impression of 1984, and the others the 11th of 1980. I've got a A&U price ticket stuck to The Two Towers in the princely sum of £7.95!)

The Fellowship has a Foreword, Prologue and a map of part of the Shire before Book 1. There's a fold out map of Middle Earth at the back.

The Two Towers has the same fold-up map at the back, but the red of the writing is more scarlet/orange than that of The Fellowship, persumably because it is a different Impression.

The Return has Appendices A-F and the Index of Names, and the fold-out map at the back is of Rohan, Gondor and Mordor.

I know nothing about paper weight, but the TolkienBooks site suggests that I've got ones which are thicker than earlier Impressions. The Two Towers is the slimmest volume of the three, at 352 pages, and excluding the boards it's a hair's breadth shy of an inch (2.5cm) thick.
 

HareBrain

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#15
If it's no significant bother, it'd be really great of you to have a look in Waterstones, and give me an opinion.
I did this. In the edition you're thinking of, the paper is thin but smooth, and seems high-quality, so the text doesn't show through much from the other side. I think I would still find it less pleasant to handle than normal, slightly coarser pages, though, and there would probably be a higher risk of creasing.

I also noticed the fold-out maps in the back are printed a lot smaller, because they only fold in one direction, not two. But they are still clearly readable, and the one-directional folding makes them easier to use.

Overall, I don't think you'd be disappointed, but they wouldn't be my personal first choice.
 

Extollager

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#16
Probably too late to ask, HareBrain, but did you happen to notice what the binding was like? Were the books basically paperbacks with glued pages, or were the sheets in the form of sewn signatures? Most hardcover books printed today are basically just paperbacks with stiff covers. However, my LotR Reader's Companion and also Scull and Hammond's most recent publication, the second edition in three volumes of the Tolkien Companion and Guide, are all made with sewn signatures. That promotes longevity. (My 1970s LotR one-volume hardcover edition, HMCo, also has sewn signatures.)
 

Matteo

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#18
Me again...

Nice You Tube review from a Finnish guy
. He could do with investing in a tripod...but he takes close up shots of all four books, talks about the paper quality (around the 4 minute point) and confirms the bindings are sewn.
 

Hugh

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#19
This has been very very helpful, much more so than I expected when I started this thread asking for advice.

I've just bought the box set from Snazal. At an offer of over £10.00 less than the Amazon pricing, it seemed stupid not to use them.

Thank you greatly @HareBrain for checking it out. That was really great of you. While the set may not be perfect it looks plenty "good enough". I'll go with the paper thickness as it is. I hope the coffee (Costa?) remains good.

Thank you immensely also @Matteo. The youtube video was the clincher. I really enjoyed it. In addition I accidentally clicked on another (shorter) review of the same box set while trying to replay the first one. I also found the discussion on the merits of the different editions helpful, though of course it set off some anxieties re a cheap printing from China. And of course you even put me onto the Snazal site. Many many thanks!

I could procrastinate for days, and short of making the trip to London and checking out versions there, I'd just continue procrastinating. This looks more than good enough for what I am looking for right now.

Many thanks also to @The Judge for your advice and the link.

And to @Extollager for your input and continued thoughts

And to @hitmouse for introducing the dimension of fetishisation into the discussion. Hopefully this box set will adequately fulfill that role.
 
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Extollager

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#20
Hurray! I feel like you should pass around cigars or something, Hugh -- or maybe that's after the books are delivered.
 
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