5 Best Editions to start building an Amazing Bookshelf

Would you judge me if I said I do judge books by their covers? Because, as it turns out, I actually do.

There are numerous editions of books, especially classics (which I am talking about in this post), aimed at different demographic groups. Some presses focus on producing the cheapest readable versions of books, some that produce editions for academic purposes, some that produce editions purely for shelf presence and also produce premium and super-premium editions that are aimed at high-end collectors. So, naturally, there is a difference in quality, in content and of course, in covers. That is precisely what leads one, and what led me, to begin to judge books by their cover.

I love to collect books from certain publishers, especially Penguin Random House, and some particular editions. Penguin Black Classics, I adore and have a shelf dedicated specifically to them which is currently overflowing. I also love to collect books from other Penguin collections. By this time, I assume you know that most of the editions I mention will be from Penguin, as I only tell you about the editions that I love to collect. But if you like this post, tell me in the comments so that I may do another post that would have some of the major non-Penguin collectables.

The editions are I have listed here are in the order that ranges from the comparatively inexpensive editions to mid-range collector’s editions. The editions will enable you to start your collection and at the same time have an aesthetically pleasing shelf, so the inexpensive ones are not the cheapest that you can find.

So, let us begin:

1) Vintage Classics (Paperback):

• Red spines of these classics have a shelf presence like no other. They will stand out in any collection.
• The Vintage Classics have one of the largest collections of classics ranging from the ancient to the modern.
• These editions are meant more for reading pleasure than academics.
• There are no notes and introductions, as is the case with most mass-market paperbacks.
• Vintage classics with white spines are also available but I would not recommend collecting those.

2) Penguin Classics (Paperback):

• Black spines with a white stripe and classic cover designs give them an amazing shelf presence.
• Again, one of the largest collections of classics and the publishers are constantly adding new titles.
• Available in hardcover too but those are rare finds.
• These books include introductions and notes and are therefore great for academic purposes.

3) Penguin Modern Classics (Paperback):

• If you are someone who is interested in the newer texts and not the ancient ones, this range of books might be perfect for you.
• Although I do not support the notion of “modern classics”, I still recommend these editions for the text and quality.
• Available with blue and white spines.

4) Clothbound Classics (Hardcover):

• For starters, there are two great choices to start collecting clothbound classics, namely Penguin Clothbound Classics and Puffin Clothbound Classics.
• Puffin Clothbound collection is quite limited and hence easier to complete the collection.
• Penguin, however, has a constantly expanding range of books.
• These are aimed solely at reading pleasure and shelf presence. Hence, introductions and notes might be absent in most cases.

5) Penguin Special Editions:

• Penguin Deluxe Editions (Paperback):

– These editions are black Penguin Classics on steroids. This range of books comes with amazing covers with French flaps and deckled edges, as well as great extra materials.
– The comparatively lower number of titles but again, the publishers are constantly adding new titles to the range.

• Penguin Orange Collection (Paperback):

– A collection of 12 of the most influential American Modern Classics with an orange colour scheme as a tribute to the original Penguin Classics.
– It has a fixed number of books in the range, making it easier for you to collect.
– They come with French flaps and deckled edges, and covers glow under blue light.

• Penguin Galaxy Editions (Hardcover):

– A collection of 6 most influential Sci-Fi titles (and the most preferred books, at that, of Neil Gaiman) featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman himself.
– Amazing covers with really creative cover designs.
– Not recommended if you would prefer collecting sequels of certain books on other editions.

• Penguin Drop Caps (Hardcover):

– Amazing spine and cover designs and vibrant colours.
– Shelf presence over the content.
– Not recommended if you prefer collecting books of particular authors in the same edition.

That would be all for this list!

So, did you like it? Would you want a part 2? Tell me in the comments.


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