Wordsworth vs Penguin vs Collins vs Oxford classics?

chongjasmine

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Why the hugh price differences?
What other publishers of classics are there?
 
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I have a lot of Penguins!
penguin_1290981c-01.jpeg
 
I love some of the more modern penguin classics. Good introductions and cool, abstract artwork.
 
Jasmine, my opinion would be as follows:

1.Penguin Classics and Penguin English Library, and Oxford World’s Classics, are desirable for notes explaining historical background, etc. I think Wordsworth doesn’t provide those.

2.I don’t think the choice is so much between Penguin or Oxford World’s Classics, but between books published before, oh, say 1990 or afterwards. I’d go with used copies published before then. After around that time, you’re more likely to run into editorial material reflecting “literary theory.” That tends to get into colonialism, dubious psychology, feminism, deconstruction, etc. These (in my view) diminished the value of university literary studies from the 1970s or so onwards, and were showing up in Penguins and probably Oxfords later. Anyway that’s the way I’d approach this. You might want to look here at Chrons for the thread on Orange Spine Penguins.
 
Wordsworth reprint old books where the copyright has expired. For classic English-language novels this usually isn't a problem - however, for translated works, such as ancient Roman/Greek works, this can be a problem as they'll be written in a late-nineteenth century style and may include notes that are very out of date.

Penguin and Oxford classics are good for Roman/Greek works, and the difference can simply be one of having a preferred translator style - ie, clarity vs poetic.
 
As has been pointed out, Wordsworth print books that are in the public domain. They have just added George Orwell to their list. Wordsworth specializes in selling books to schools. They use the latest on-demand printing and can sell books to schools for under £2.00 each. I find the printing, especially long books, to be too small and hard to read.
 
For classic texts, I'd actually suggest a fifth option - Everyman hardback editions.

Extollager and Brian are on the money as to why Wordsworth are cheaper, but Extollager's advice re: the latest 'introductions' is apposite and helpful, I'd say (not that these learned guys need my affirmation :) )
 
I’ve noticed some, not all, Oxford classics have sewn binding and are printed on better paper than Penguin. But I agree with Bick regarding Everyman hardbacks- high quality and affordable.
 
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As has been pointed out, Wordsworth print books that are in the public domain. They have just added George Orwell to their list. Wordsworth specializes in selling books to schools. They use the latest on-demand printing and can sell books to schools for under £2.00 each. I find the printing, especially long books, to be too small and hard to read.

And their proofreading (from the few I have read) is far from perfect.
 
Just ran against this thread. From the bookselling perspective these hardbacks are good quality and worth looking at,

Wordsworth collector's editions are very nice little hardbacks for £8.99 and nice quality.
Penguin classics clothbound editions are popular
Chiltern classics are very, very pretty and excellent quality.

A few other ranges include Macmillan collector's library, which carry a big range in a little pocket-sized hardback, the Everyman range (although I find it has lost something of its popularity, the style is maybe a little outdated now), and a couple of newer ones that will, I think, become collectible: seasons range and Painted Classics.
 
Is Oxford better or Penguin?
In my experience, Oxford and Penguin Classics are basically the same - UNLESS you are looking for a specific translation. Then you need to pick which ever one published that translation. Both have end notes and introductory material, which may or may not be helpful depending on what that specific editor or contributor decided to write about (and depending on how modern that particular edition - the more recent the introduction the more politically correct it is). I've got collections of both. I've also got a few Wordsworth classics - the text is usually tiny, the paper very thin and grey, and they weren't actually designed to last for long (they are very flimsy compared to the Oxford and Penguin), hence the low cost. In terms of contents, it's not a problem unless you are looking for a copy-righted translation. Some of them have an introductions and notes (my translation of Faust has notes and commentary). The Penguins and Wordsworths have somewhat more flexible spines than the Oxfords so you are less likely to crack the spines of the very fat books. I don't have any Collins classics, but it looks like they also only print what is out of copy-right.

I have one very fat Penguin clothbound. It's a bit stiff to open but otherwise a nice quality book. BUT, the cloth is hard to clean if it gets dusty (not a problem for me because my books are all behind glass). I found a white clothbound Dickens Christmas Carol at the used book shop but it was brown with dust and no way to clean it.

I hope this helps?
 
I used to buy wordsworth, but the quality sucks. I am deciding between penguin and oxford. I decided to choose oxford because I prefer uniformity in the covers and the penguin covers are different. Thanks for all your comments!
 

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