Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Lord of the Rings - Deluxe India Paper Edition - 2001

You know that feeling you get when you spot something you really want to buy? Your heart races, your chest tightens, and your eyes dart all over the object looking for some flaw or extra detail.You get this ridiculous sense of urgency, as if it will be taken away from you at any moment, and you can't rest until you've bought the item. Well, I felt like that when I saw this book. Truth be told, I had spent my entire budget for that and the next month, but this was something special. Here, on ebay, was a 2001 deluxe LOTR that was still shrinkwrapped! That's nearly ten years of staying sealed, and I wanted it!

This book is part of a set released by Harper Collins. They released The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and three volumes of the History of Middle Earth along with this book in the series. However, the books (in their slipcases) ended up being of varying heights, which made them look a bit odd when placed together. No, I much preferred the later deluxe editions (circa 2004 onwards), but this got me thinking about the nature of my collecting. After much thought, I have decided to collect only slipcased or boxed editions of Tolkien's work. The reason for this is that, no matter how nice the book may be, unboxed editions are prone to leaning, not to mention the dustjacket getting creased at the bottom, the browning of pages and the like. No, for me, it will take something VERY special to tempt me outside of the boxed market. So there you have it - my aim is to own every boxed or slipcased edition of a Tolkien book that has ever been released. I will start with the more glamorous and easy to acquire of these sort, then no doubt delve into more complex pastures!

With that decision made, I put my varying height issues behind me, and decided that this set would be one I would aim to collect.

This deluxe edition was originally released in 1997, although that one came in a cloth slipcase whereas this one is leather. The first impression was limited to 1000 copies, and is altogether quite a rarity. This later impression came in either 2001 or 2002 (I haven't opened it so can't be sure). There were two impressions of this book printed: the 3rd Impression of 2001, with 2,037 copies, and the 4th Impression of 2002 with 3,061 copies.

The book itself is printed on India paper to reduce the size to around 1 inch in width. To see it before you is quite staggering, as it truly is a very small book when compared to other editions. India paper is basically the same paper that is used in a Bible, although this edition is thinner again because that slipcase keeps the pages squashed in tight.

The book is quarter bound in black leather. Part of me dislikes this convention, as the book at first appears to be all leather, but on removing it from the slipcase turns out to be far from that. I would have liked to see a full leather edition, but it wasn't to happen here.The US Deluxe edition, where it does happen, is pretty tough to remove and replace into the slipcase, so perhaps this 3/4 style is the best for ease of use.

The slipcase contains the golden Tolkien monogram on the black leather - two lovely contrasting colours that really compliment each other very well. The spine contains the title, author, monogram and, rather sadly, the Harper Collins logo. Quite why they wanted to put this there I don't know. The fact that it is in gold too suggests it is somehow important, whereas to me it is just annoying corporate branding.

Price-wise, the book was released at £100 in 2001. An opened copy recently sold on Ebay for £80, whereas a sealed copy will currently set you back three times that at This book was initially listed on ebay for £100, with a similarly sealed Silmarillion listed at £80. I offered the seller £150 for the pair and he agreed, so again it goes to prove that it is worth offering a reduced price for an item, particularly if a multiple sale can be achieved.

As the book is sealed, I once again cannot comment on the inside-the-box experience. I wasn't sure whether it was worth listing on this blog, as I can't say much about the book itself, but then I thought 'what the heck, it's my blog!' As with my Super Deluxe Hurin, I will endeavour to buy an opened 'reading' copy in the future, and will update this blog accordingly.

David at tolkienbookshelf has once again kindly agreed to let me use some of his pics to illustrate the edition, and as you can see, this is a very tidy book. The cloth boards look like they could be prone to marking, but the red and white maps on the interior look simply stunning.

All in all, a nice book to own. With the razor thin pages it could be argued that it's not at all practical, and there are some who like to get some bulk for their money which will not be found in this little gem, but I have to say I like it a lot. I do agree that it's annoying the other editions in the same series are different heights, but I plan on making a custom book-shelf where books are offset at the required height to balance them out, so that's one for the future.


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  2. As I really like books with India paper, this edition was also a must for me.

    A very nice edition.
    I also bought it sealed so it was a gamble, if it would be the third or fourth printing.
    Well, it was just the fourth but that didn´t make the book any less nice for me. :)

    Best regards,