Friday, August 5, 2011

The Impossibility of the Hunt.

Over the last several days, reading more and more positive statements. Not only from reviewers whom I feel have good taste but also from the authors themselves. I have decided to try and read the massive Malazan book of the fallen series.

The problem arises when I go to actually try and purchase the books. You see, I own Gardens of the Moon in hardcover. It's my preferred format. I dislike mass market paperbacks, and Trade Paperbacks slightly less so. This shouldn't be that difficult of a task. Expensive maybe, but not difficult. That would be an incorrect and presumptuous line of thought however.

Apparently, much like a full sized Houghton-Mifflin copy of The Book of Lost Tales Part 1, Deadhouse gates dosen't exist in anything other than Book Club size. I know thats not true. It is difficult to believe though. I've ordered it three times. All three times it has been the book club format. All three times the sellers have claimed ignorance, or simply ignored my complaints about them not making it clear that I wasn't getting an actual hardcover.

Don't misunderstand, I have nothing against Book Club formatted books. I especially like the Omnibus format re-prints of various series. As nice as Tor's recent reprints of the Black Company books are, I'd happily trade them in a heartbeat for the 80's Book Club editions they are reprinted from. Simply put, I like hardcovers and dust jackets, and sometimes the only way to get a book in hardcover with a dust jacket is to buy it from the book club. Though I'm no great fan of his, the First Law series is a perfect example. If you buy it from Amazon, or any other book retailer, you will get the Trade Paperback set and no choice. However if you order from the Sci-fi Book Club, you get it in hardcover, with dust jackets.

So my inability to get the sellers to comprehend there is a difference between Book Club Editions and Hardcovers is hampering that quest. I moved on to Trade Paperback, I dislike it, but not as much as Mass market Paperback. It has the added bonus of Tor printing the books from both Erikson and Esslemont with very similar design cues on the spine. To sort of make them look like Iron Bound books.

The Problem is, while every single other book in the series is in print and available in Trade paperback format.. for some reason Volume #3, Memories of Ice isn't. The only way to get it in Trade paperback is to buy it used. Thats not that big of a deal, however if I'm going to buy it used, I should just buy it in hardcover used. Of course that runs the risk of getting the package in the mail and having it be the Book Club Edition.

I could of course simply buy the 114$ set of all 10 Malazan books from the book club. It's quite a good deal really. The problem with this idea is, though you can get two of the most recent of Ian Camereon Esslemont's books in this format.. and in a completely ironic twist from a few paragraphs ago.. the earlier ones such as Night of Knives are difficult and expensive to acquire in the Book Club Format. The thing is though, I could read the first 1-2 of them and decide I hate it. So that sort of is a big mark against spending the rather serious amount of money sight unseen.

This may see pedantic or quibbling over unimportant things, after all isn't it whats inside the book that matters the most? Are these real leather? Well they're real Dickens. Thats all true. But I enjoy the aesthetic qualities of a shelf with matching, equally sized books on it. If you have them jumping from one size to another, it reminds me of nothing less than a mouth full of broken teeth. As if some one walked up and punched my shelves.

The only way it seems for me to get the entire series, from both authors, in a single unifed format is to break down and buy the Mass Market editions. Which while yes they take up considerably less room.. just aren't as nice to look at. I've had to do that with quite a few series, but not out of choice. Simply because they aren't available in any other formats.

This is going to require some serious consideration, as once I've embarked on purchasing them in one format I have to stick with it.


Trey said...

I don't know if I follow through with the same dilligence as you, but I too really prefer books in the same formant--and ideally same trade dress. I've been milding irked that its been so long since GRRM's last book that the A Dance with Dragons hardcover has a new trade dress. Last time they did that to me (King's Dark Tower books) they got me to rebuy the series--though in that case the earlier books were in trade paperback, so a hardcover upgrade could be justified.

Lagomorph Rex said...

King's Dark Tower series is one I have to fix at some point. I have the first four in trade paperback, and the last 3 in hardcover. Due to the cost of getting them all in hardcover, I plan to replace the last three with Trades.

Trade-dress is thankfully not something I concern myself with overmuch.. if I did it would make it even more difficult to buy books. I'm generally content so long as they are all one format.

Brian Murphy said...

I appreciate a good book, and have hardcovers of all my favorites, but I don't quite go to these lengths. You'd probably be horrified at my bookshelf, which features handsome hardcovers alongside tattered, highlight-strewn paperbacks.

I haven't read Malazan and so can't comment on that particular series.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Oh I have my share of tattered paperbacks.. but I only have them for books that simply have never been printed in any other format.. or because thats the format I have the most in.

That's what makes it so difficult with malazan. I have precisely one book, in hardcover, and no others.. so it's just as easy to replace it should I chose to simply go with a different format.