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Own a hobbit book? I need your help with some research.

Qweniden
Registered User

Apr 18 2013, 8:31pm

Post #1 of 10 (333 views)
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Own a hobbit book? I need your help with some research. Can't Post

Hi,

I am in the process of researching the printing history of the hobbit in the united states for an online bibliography.

I need some help from you guys if possible.

If you have a copy of the hobbit that looks something like this:



Could you please post:

- What is the most recent copyright date on the copyright page?
- What printing number?*
- What is the price on the inside of the jacket?
- What color are the hardcover boards?
- Did you buy the book new? if yes, do you remember what year it was purchased?

If you have pictures that would be great!

* If it says something like 60 59 58 57 56 55 then it is the 55th printing for example. This would be on the copyright page.

Thanks and any help would be very appreciated,


PattyJB
Rivendell


Apr 19 2013, 5:13am

Post #2 of 10 (181 views)
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Here you go... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

- What is the most recent copyright date on the copyright page? 1966
- What printing number?* 42
- What is the price on the inside of the jacket? $13.95
- What color are the hardcover boards? Light green
- Did you buy the book new? if yes, do you remember what year it was purchased? New. No.

If you have pictures that would be great!

* If it says something like 60 59 58 57 56 55 then it is the 55th printing for example. This would be on the copyright page.

Thanks and any help would be very appreciated,





squire
Valinor


Apr 19 2013, 7:03am

Post #3 of 10 (160 views)
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What help I can give [In reply to] Can't Post

- What is the most recent copyright date on the copyright page?
- What printing number?*
- What is the price on the inside of the jacket?
- What color are the hardcover boards?
- Did you buy the book new? if yes, do you remember what year it was purchased?


I have a copy of The Hobbit which still retains its paper cover with the original green-blue-white art by JRR Tolkien. But not every detail corresponds with your checklist. For instance, there is no copyright page, as such. Rather the frontispiece (the title page opposite the color plate of 'The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the Water') says at the bottom, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston / The Riverside Press / Cambridge. On th
e next page, where I'd expect some printing and copyright info, it only says, 'PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN'. (I believe this represents the situation that for a long time, American editions of The Hobbit were physically printed in England, the sheets were shipped to Boston, and bound there into books. I forget what legal contortion of American/British copyright law made this the standard procedure).

Now, on the dust jacket front flap, along with 'SOME PRESS OPINIONS', it says 'FOURTEENTH IMPRESSION'. Interestingly, beneath that I seem to have carefully written "March, 1963". I no longer remember how or when I found that information out.

There is no price on the inside of the jacket. However, the back flap of the dust jacket has an absolutely charming ad for the author's next book, The Lord of the Rings. Along with blurbs by Richard Hughes and Naomi Mitchison and C. S. Lewis, there is the information that LotR is "Med. 8vo" (whatever that means) and also "21s. net each", which I take to mean the price of each of the three volumes was 21 shillings. At the bottom of the rear flap is "Printed in Great Britain", by the way.

I bought the book used, according to the inscription I put on the blank inside page: June 13, 1987. I found it rather cheap at some lovely used-book store in New York City.

The hardcover boards are an unattractive shade of green, deep and rich but slightly yellow in tone. 'THE HOBBIT' is embossed on the front, in deep blue. The spine shows, from top to bottom: THE / HOBBIT / [a cartoon of a dwarvish stocking cap (?)] / TOLKIEN; and at the base, HOUGHTON / MIFFLIN CO.

(The only "new" Hobbit I currently have doesn't meet your request, because it is missing its dust jacket and has been rebound. It was given to my mother by her Aunt as a gift for Christmas in 1938. Mom was eight at the time.)





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= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


dormouse
Half-elven


Apr 19 2013, 10:49am

Post #4 of 10 (130 views)
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In the United States only? [In reply to] Can't Post

My copy looks very much like that but is a UK edition, which I'm assuming falls outside the scope of your research. If not, just shout.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 19 2013, 11:11am

Post #5 of 10 (130 views)
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55th printing! The publisher was mis-reading the market? [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome Qweniden - hope your research goes well. I expect we'd be very interested to hear your conclusions! Sticking around & posting us some results would also be a nice thank-you.

Having once worked in publishing production I was impressed (or startled) by the idea of a 55th printing. The size of the print run is often a source of debate in a publishing company - printing more copies at once is usually cheaper per unit (was a lot cheaper until more recent innovations of Print on Demand). But of course you have to warehouse all that stock you've made until and unless you can sell it, and if you miscalculate the demand, you have a lot of unwanted books to write off.
Getting to a 55th printing suggests serious and chronic miscalculation of the demand, though! Perhaps that is an interesting research question for you?

There might be other factors of course - British printers in the 1940s and 1950s struggled with paper rationing, which presumably meant that only small print-runs were possible, even for something that would obviously sell more. And a small or struggling publishing house might have to print in smaller runs than ideal because of cash-flow issues.

A piece of trivia (may interest someone reading this thread, though you probably know this already yourself)- your print numbers are going
60 59 58 57 56 55 For each reprinting, the typesetter removes the last number on the right

60 59 58 57 56 55 -55th impresion

60 59 58 57 56 - 56th impression

But that meant a string of numbers which contracted towards the left of page, which was felt to look ugly

In books published in later years you'll find a centered string of numbers like this (for a first printing):


1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

It's like this so that the typesetter can remove numbers to the left and right alternately for successive printings. This keeps the numbers nicely centered on the page, to please the eye of a careful typesetter. Do you see what I mean? Successive printings will go
:


1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
3 5 7 9 8 6 4
5 7 9 8 6 4
5 7 9 8 6

Which looks nicely centered in Preview, but posts left-justified Tongue
It was a system introduced by Penguin, but I don't now when.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Apr 19 2013, 3:16pm

Post #6 of 10 (121 views)
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My book looks just like yours [In reply to] Can't Post

Copyright 1966

Printing number 33

Price $6.95

The hardcover boards are green.

I bought the book new, probably in 1968.

Hope this helps!




Qweniden
Registered User

Apr 19 2013, 3:45pm

Post #7 of 10 (115 views)
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Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks everyone for the info so far.


In Reply To
Welcome Qweniden - hope your research goes well. I expect we'd be very interested to hear your conclusions! Sticking around & posting us some results would also be a nice thank-you.

Having once worked in publishing production I was impressed (or startled) by the idea of a 55th printing. The size of the print run is often a source of debate in a publishing company - printing more copies at once is usually cheaper per unit (was a lot cheaper until more recent innovations of Print on Demand). But of course you have to warehouse all that stock you've made until and unless you can sell it, and if you miscalculate the demand, you have a lot of unwanted books to write off.
Getting to a 55th printing suggests serious and chronic miscalculation of the demand, though! Perhaps that is an interesting research question for you?

There might be other factors of course - British printers in the 1940s and 1950s struggled with paper rationing, which presumably meant that only small print-runs were possible, even for something that would obviously sell more. And a small or struggling publishing house might have to print in smaller runs than ideal because of cash-flow issues.

A piece of trivia (may interest someone reading this thread, though you probably know this already yourself)- your print numbers are going
60 59 58 57 56 55 For each reprinting, the typesetter removes the last number on the right

60 59 58 57 56 55 -55th impresion

60 59 58 57 56 - 56th impression

But that meant a string of numbers which contracted towards the left of page, which was felt to look ugly

In books published in later years you'll find a centered string of numbers like this (for a first printing):


1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

It's like this so that the typesetter can remove numbers to the left and right alternately for successive printings. This keeps the numbers nicely centered on the page, to please the eye of a careful typesetter. Do you see what I mean? Successive printings will go
:


1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
3 5 7 9 8 6 4
5 7 9 8 6 4
5 7 9 8 6

Which looks nicely centered in Preview, but posts left-justified Tongue
It was a system introduced by Penguin, but I don't now when.


DO you know what letter like QUM mean in the letter line? Ive always wondered that.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Apr 19 2013, 4:16pm

Post #8 of 10 (114 views)
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There's this - [In reply to] Can't Post

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_American_editions_of_The_Hobbit


Qweniden
Registered User

Apr 20 2013, 8:28am

Post #9 of 10 (96 views)
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thanks [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


Thanks. That goes into great detail about earlier editions (as does the Hammond and Anderson Bibliography) but doesn't really cover anything regarding 3rd edition and beyond. My scope is the whole timeline of the publishing history.


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Apr 20 2013, 12:15pm

Post #10 of 10 (78 views)
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Mine is like the others [In reply to] Can't Post

Green cloth boards with The Hobbit on the front board and on the spine there's a picture of a dwarvish hat / The Hobbit, Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin printed on the spine. I don't have the jackets, so no price is available.

It was printed by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston / The Riverside Press Cambridge

23rd printing

I found this at a used book store and paid $4 for it.

Good luck on your project :)


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