No, not the band, the books! There are thousands upon thousands of differing editions of books in the world. We’ve got hardcover editions, we’ve got paperback, and mass trade, and cloth, leatherbound, deckle edged (what a fun term), and so many more.
In fact, Buzzfeed even published a quiz on this sort of thing recently, titled “How Well-Rounded is your Personal Book Collection?” (Take it and tell me how you did in the comments!) I got 50 out of a possible 81, which isn’t too bad, I don’t think, when you see some of the possibilities.
That quiz, along with the news yesterday from Scholastic that the Harry Potter series is going to be released in full illustration editions starting in October, got me thinking about books and their various editions.
What makes a great edition of a book? The first edition, of course, is always special; it’s our first opportunity to see the story, to learn to love the story, and to grow with the story. It doesn’t get much better than that.
But subsequent editions and collections of can be just as special. For example, my clothbound, Penguin Classics edition of Frankenstein, which is one of my top 5 favorite books of all time, was a birthday present my other half gave me. It’s even got hearts on the cover, though they’re not cutesy, which just adds a special funny bit of symbolism. Of course that’s special to me.
With the news that they’re printing another new edition of the HP series, however, I find myself critical of and questioning it. They only just recently released a new paperback boxed set in the U.S. with new cover designs. Now, there’s going to be fully illustrated? At some point, my cynical side takes over and says “how much are you trying to milk from this?” But maybe I feel that way because Harry Potter, to me, is sacred. And I don’t know if I want to see an illustrated version, because the characters I see in my head are so real. Going back to my thoughts about how adaptations shape the way we view characters in our heads, I don’t know if I, personally, would be able to reconcile new illustrated editions with my own personal versions plus the movie versions. It’s a lot of combining that I’d need to do!
Ultimately, though, I can’t really complain about the constant stream of new editions of books. Who am I to decide the best version for someone to experience a story I so loved while growing up (and still do love now!)? It’s also a blast to be able to look at the variety of books on my shelves. Having the leatherbound, the cloth, the worn in paper back and the stark hardcovers is something I pride myself on. I’m well-rounded, Buzzfeed! I swear! I have a multitude of book experience! I guess I just like new editions.