Good Reading : June 2009
fully booked 2 daily in the hope that an owner would decide to sell his or her copy. ‘It was sort of like a missing book on my bookshelf,’ explains Shaw, a book lover based in Melbourne. He has collected a variety of books, from first editions to rare books, but a limited edition is different. ‘A limited edition is special by the very fact that it is limited,’ says David Berkelouw, one of the owners of Berkelouw Books, a bookstore chain that specialises in secondhand, rare and out-of-print books. While many collectors would only collect limited editions of a favourite author, or favourite topic, it is not so much about what is written in the book. ‘There are some people who buy books only to read the words on the page or only to look at the pictures on the page,’ says Berkelouw. ‘But there are other types of people who buy the books [for their] aesthetic value.’ In the world of limited editions, it’s all about the numbers. Publishers announce that a set number of a limited edition book will be released and often throw away the publishing plates to assure buyers that no other similar copy of the book will ever be released again, making buyers feel that their book is special and hard to attain. Often publishers add material that further differentiates a limited edition from the standard copy. Shaw’s treasured Sebald books, for example, are all leather bound and numbered. Sometimes publishing houses release limited finding keepers YASMINE FATHY explores the appeal and the market of the limited edition book. F a e R a n in ed Schwindel.Gefühle (Vertigo) and Ringe des Saturn (The Rings of Saturn), each book featuring in a series produced by German publisher Eichborn Verlag. It wasn’t that these three books were not available – in act they are sold in Australian bookstores and on the internet. But what Shaw was after was the limited edition collection. He had heard that 999 special editions of each book in the collection had been sold a few years earlier and he was surfing the internet 26 goodreading ı JUNE 2009 or five years Martin Shaw searched every avenue possible to complete his collection of his favourite author’s works. The author is the German writer W G Sebald, and Shaw was looking for limited edition copies of Die Ausgewanderten (The Emigrants), S editions of old books to commemorate an event. In 2007, Penguin published five books designed by famous architects and designers, including a Manolo Blahnik edition of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and a Ron Arad edition of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, to celebrate Penguin Classics’s diamond anniversary. Each book was presented in a Perspex case. a limited edition of Michael Chabon’s novel, Yiddish Policemen’s Union, was released with copy signed and numbered by the author. Sometimes a limited edition of a book include the author’s notes or parts of the book were edited out in the standard copy. The 2 anniversary edition of John Crowley’s fanta Little, Big, is currently in production, and w include art of American printmaker and art Milton and an introduction by well-known critic Harold Bloom. In 2008, HarperCollins designed a web specifically to sell limited editions of J R R Tolkien’s books (www.tolkien.co.uk). They sold 500 limited editions of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. The books included a facsimile page of the original manuscript, were hand-bound in goat-skin with pages edged in gold, and signed by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. Recently, Australian co-edition publisher Millennium House published a giant atlas titled Earth. The book weighs 20 kilograms, and 3 000 are available worldwide. Gordon Cheers, the managing director of Millennium House, says that his motivation for publishing Earth was to create a book that will stand the test of time. Having worked in the publishing business for 20 years, he has seen hundreds of books published with a shelf life of 10 or 20 years.