You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well, sue me, because I definitely do. I love the classics, and in particular I love beautiful, collectible editions of the classics. Following on from the birth of #bookstagram, there’s been a boom in the number of gorgeous collections. I like to think that those of us sharing the love on Instagram (I’m @thesenovelthoughts over there) have had a big part in bringing all of this excess beauty into the world!
If you want to start book collecting, here are my favourite editions. These books can be more expensive than their mass market paperback alternatives, but keep them well and they will retain their value (and even increase it).
I see book collecting as one of life’s great pleasures, and I’m delighted to share some of my favourite collections with you. I’ll share my favourite book from each collection, and I hope you enjoy these aesthetically pleasing beauties.
Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Of course, I have to start with these. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I have gradually built up my collection of these over the years. I love the excellent craftsmanship (they are hefty, heavy and great big blocks of books), the delightful, unique designs and the value. By value, I mean the way that they are limited, and keep them long enough and they will gain value – an investment, if you like. This edition of War and Peace is the most perfect one I have ever seen.
Penguin Clothbound Classics
One of the most instantly recognisable collections out there, the Penguin clothbound classics (designed by the inimitable Coralie Bickford-Smith) are so simple and yet so beautiful. These tend to be very affordable (around the £15 mark) and look utterly delightful together on a shelf. I adore the repeating designs, and particularly this one for Arabian Nights. Issues with earlier prints where the foil would wear easily have been rectified with the later editions, so they are much more hard-wearing now too.
Canterbury Classics Word Cloud
The key to these designs is the accessibility. They each have key quotes from the text embedded on the cover, and each one has an individual, block colour – making them extremely pleasing all together on a shelf. In fact, the word cloud classics are so beautiful that I have seen them used as a house decoration piece on their own right in many instances. Just look at the incredible tone of this Northanger Abbey edition. You can find links to my whole collection here.
Virago Modern Classics
Virago publish works by women, and the hardcover modern classics collection has a really wonderful mix of books. If you’re looking for exceptional books written by women, then I would recommend picking up anything from this collection. They are extremely readable, too – in fact, these editions are some of the ones I most frequently pick up. Rebecca is one of my favourite books, and this is the edition that I always, always read.
Vintage Russian Classics
Vintage have released a few collections in this thick, paperback design (including European Classics and Japanese Classics), but I think the Russian Classics are my favourite. The patterns are utterly delightful, and work so well with these long tomes. They are portable and hardwearing, and very affordable. I highly recommend these if you want to start reading some great Russian literature. This Anna Karenina edition is the one I read when I tackled the book for the first time.
Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions
I gush about these lovelies very often (as a browse through my blog will tell you), and with good reason. These editions are special and they are to be treated with care. The paper cut design is fragile, and that just emphasises the beauty. The images themselves are intricate and the colours well chosen. There are only 10,000 of each available – making them extremely covetable. This edition of Dracula is my favourite, even though it hasn’t even been published! It’ll be released in September, and is available for preorder now.
Penguin English Library
These books are paperback as you would traditionally imagine them, but with the most thoughtful and perfect patterns (again, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith). I love these editions because they are so accessible, but also have that touch of class. I don’t mind throwing them in a bag or dog earring pages because – interestingly enough – they look almost better a bit scruffed up. Look at this incredible Animal Farm cover!
Another flexibound offering – like the word cloud classics – that is eye-catching, affordable and so, so collectible. The Knickerbocker Classics are a joy to read – and a joy to see on your shelf too. I love the nod towards nature, with a plant/flower/water theme to many of the designs, including this beautiful Wuthering Heights.
The images never do these books justice. They are pearlescent, they glow. The hardback is solid and these little books are heavy. They just exude quality. I own just four of these, and I am always on the lookout for more. This edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is top of my list.
Macmillan Collector’s Library
These adorable, small hardback books are one of the sweetest to spot on your bookshelf. Each one has sprayed gold edges and a beautiful dust jacket. The joy comes underneath the dust jacket, though. They are all clothbound in baby blue – and they are absolutely beautiful. I love collecting these, and it helps that the people at Macmillan are just lovely. Check out this gorgeous Frankenstein edition.
Do you collect books? Which are your favourite ones to collect? Let me know in the comments.