Disappointing Folio Purchases
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Sorry to start a negative thread but I think this is an interesting topic. What Folio books have disappointed you after arrival and why. I'll start.
The Book of Psalms
The font is so incredibly small it makes reading tedious. It must be size 9 or below. Why would Folio do this?
Confucius - The Analects
The pieces of artwork leave a lot of empty space on their respective pages. I remember thinking it just looked poorly done.
Also, I find the binding quite unappealing overall and its material (buckram-ish) is easily damaged/rubbed. It had noticeable wear after taking it out the first time.
The Greek Myths. Fake leather, tiny font, crap layout. Everything I thought I'd left behind when moving to a Folio-focused library.
The Alchemist - simply overpriced.
As previously mentioned, this may be due to paying royalties to the author for the FS to publish this. If so, FS should have erred in the other direction and made it a more expensive special edition, worth paying the royalties fees. I would much rather pay $125 USD for a beautiful edition of a modern classic than $77 (which is what it costs in the U.S.) for a slim, run-of-the-mill FS book.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
We have a winner here. The FS 'Greek Myths' is indeed a crappy edition.
>1 d-b: I also found The Book of Psalms to be disappointing. It was an impulse purchase, so I see it as an expensive lesson in putting more thought into a purchase when Folio’s new books are released.
From my point of view, disappointing FS books are few and far between. Of my 600+ FS books, the only one I can say I am truly disappointed in is the Folio Society Book of Carols, which was published with words but no music.
Others may have been expensive, but never disappointing, and the How to See Fairies is one of the most charming and delightful books I have ever purchased, and well worth its high price.
I was recently hospitalised, and was reading Desolation Island, a fairly standard FS publication, but everyone who visited, medical staff and friends alike, commented on what a lovely book it was. Thats the FS difference.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: Even coming right out of the shrink-wrap the corners were already fraying. Design over quality doesn't work for me at all.
A Short History of the English People by J.R. Green, incredibly boring in content and form. I don't know why I bought it.
>10 SimB: I bought it secondhand. I liked the illustrations by Grandfield. He did a perfect job in my eyes in portraying the mountains, the sheer size of them, and the unbelievably hard climbing it required to get to the the top of the Siula Grande. The map was also very helpful in determining where the climbers were together and in the end separate from each other. As to the story, it’s very internal and doesn’t need much else besides the treatment by FS. It’s high up on my recommendation list for other Devotees.
Possession - It looks beautiful on pictures...but terrible in real. I don't see the Folio Society ever producing something like this again.
>3 gmacaree: My single volume Greek Myths is "bound in quarter leather". Why do you think it's fake? Or do you have the two-volume edition?
And do you think the entire myths and legends series is bound in "fake leather"?
>13 garyjbp: The two-volume set has been reissued several times. There's at least one version which uses bonded leather spines, which I am sad to own.
Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Why? Because they completely f***ed up one of the best jokes.
The waiter says to Arthur that he has arrived at the end of the universe and, per Folio, Arthurs' response is:
'End of what?'
To which the waiter replies:
'In just a few minutes, sir.'
A complete non-sequiter, makes no sense.
What Arthur actually said, if you have an old paperback edition, is: 'When did that end?'
Now that's funny :-)
Reading this back, I don't think I was as clear as I could have been. The full dialogue (omitting non-spoken text), as written by Adams, runs:
Waiter: ' ... this is Milliways - the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.'
Arthur: 'End of what?'
Waiter: 'The universe.'
Arthur: 'When did that end?'
Waiter: 'In just a few minutes, sir.'
Folio, for some reason, deleted the third and fourth lines, thus mangling Adam's text and killing the joke completely.
Whether it was the copy editor or the proofreader who mucked it up, it's not up to the standards one expects of Folio.
Having said that, there's a lot to like about the Folio editions of the Hitchhiker series, including the illustrations and the lovely sparkly starscapes on the bindings. I just wish they'd taken more care over the actual words; Adams himself, by all accounts, sweated blood over them.
While we are being a bit petty, I will mention my disappointment.
I had the 'red letter' paperback edition of The Princess Bride in my youth back in the 70's. Long before the movie, my family and friends loved this book.
I had two of these paperback books, which due to youth and college and the years, were lost along the way.
Any remaining are far out of my price range, but that is the edition I really want to have. When FS reprinted The Princess Bride I really hoped they would have realized that there is a robust demand for this book as published in our youths, for the 'red letter' edition, and produce it as such.
Alas, they did not.
Same here. I was really excited to have a FS copy of the Psalms to hold in my hands for prayer and I still have it by my bedside, but same complaint. Why on earth was the font so small when there was so much empty space around the margins that would have allowed for something much larger? They also could have dressed it up a bit. I'll stick to my BCP, one which is even smaller but with larger font!
I know! It's the only Folio I've been disappointed in. Frankly, it's too small to read comfortably, which means I don't use it. It's a shame. Like Warwick said though disappointing editions are vert few and far between. I think this is a good 'warning thread' though to advise faddicts about these rare anomalies before they buy.
What? No mention yet of Year Round Things To Do? True, it is a priceless FS edition--you cannot buy greatness like YRTTD; it must be thrust upon you (repeatedly).
I would agree with the general thread that disappointments have been few and far between, but one that has been long held for me was the complete Trollope series (not the first time I've mentioned this though!). The pale paper sides pick up and show marks far too easily, and the typeface (Monotype Bell) is one that I find so spindly as to be intrusive. I started collecting (having at one time the complete Barchesters and Pallisers plus one or two others), but now only have one volume, The Way We Live Now.
There were also a couple of editions some years ago when the FS experimented with metallic effect bindings, and they did not work at all. Brave New World was one, and writings of Dorothy Parker was (I think) another. The sticky Odyssey was another where something definitely went wrong.
Oddly enough, Possession is one of my favourites. Everyone to their own. What was it you didn't like?
What I find problematic are editions that fade all too easily. I didn't buy those, but I remember seeing that problem online with some silk-bound books (a green Bronte set, I think), the Gaskell set suffers from this, and the Knight in Panther Skin, too. (It's not that easy to find copies that don't have a faded spine of those, and some sellers are less than honest about it, too.) I don't put my books right into the sun, but if it reaches a point where you'd better keep them in the dark or else, there's a design / material issue that should have been avoided. As mentioned above, design over quality isn't a good choice.
For me it is The Drowned World. I love that book, but not the edition from Folio: the bronze paint on the front cover rubs off due to the action of removing it from the slipcase, in fact I can see bronze staining on the inside of the slipcase now. I have only read this copy once, bought it brand new, and already it looks worn. In general for many of my Folio editions, I worry about their durability given the choice of cover materials they sometimes use (in comparison I never worry about my Easton Press editions due to their tough leather covers). I don't think they test these materials enough.
The first (?) issue of LOTR in 1974. I bought this and other books as a poor student for around £40. All arrived damaged to some extent. Lark Rise had a badly warped cover, Kilvert had torn paper sides, but LOTR had a gorgeous design completely wrecked by the horribly scratched and badly marked quarter leather revealing deep reddish marks on all the lovely pale grey volumes. I eventually sold this set for £40 about 20 years later as I couldn't bear to see these disgusting looking volumes on my shelf. The design was absolutely gorgeous though - the best of the editions published by folio IMHO. Nearly all copies of this set that
have appeared for sale have been spoiled by the not-fit-for-purpose quarter leather and all look ugh-ish. Apart from one set on sale currently (or in the last few weeks) that was described as mint - but who's going to spend several hundred pounds knowing the ultimate fate of that awful leather on the binding.
The design was absolutely gorgeous though - the best of the editions published by folio IMHO.
Is that the one with the gold labyrinth design on the cover? If so, yes, it does look lovely when pristine. If it's any help, I have the later 'elephant-hide' edition, with the rings design on the cover, which I find amost equally good looking - it's certainly one of my favourite FS editions, and can often be bought at a reasonable price and is fairly robust, so continues to look good.
That's the one - I do have the later 'elephant-hide' edition which is still in absolutely mint condition. It is certainly very robust!
But I much prefered the earlier version - if only they'd used better leather!
Hmm, I'd say it felt a bit 'plasticky' and the grey colour is quite dominating - I thought there'd be more hints of blue and green.
And,there's the spine. It's very... grey, and then everything is written in a shiny silver on it, which doesn't really match. Plus I don't really like the font.
I mean, when I look at my shelves, it's the only one standing out because it looks so out of place among the other beautiful books. Haha.
I reckon I was expecting better based on what I saw on the pictures.
>25 RogerBlake: my LOTR set is dated 1977 and has grey quarter leather and cloth sides, with the golden labyrinth pattern - I just checked it over and it looks pristine.
Lucky You ! Any chance of some pictures just to make me feel even more envious :-)
A Room with a View. For a book about the transformative beauty of Florence, it has remarkably drab and ugly illustrations.
My vote is for the silver cover Brave New World,,,, terrible cover and the interior illustrations were uncomfortably inappropriate.
After thinking about it, I would have to place Brave New World (the most recent edition) above Psalms in terms of most disappointing Folio purchase. I didn’t like the cover and illustrations at all.
Hmm, I'd say it felt a bit 'plasticky' and the grey colour is quite dominating - I thought there'd be more hints of blue and green. And,there's the spine. It's very... grey, and then everything is written in a shiny silver on it, which doesn't really match. Plus I don't really like the font.
Don't think we can be talking the same edition, as the lettering on mine is dark red, as are the 9 rings on the cover design (looking at images online it does appear that some have dark silver lettering and silver rings). Nor does the binding smack of grey - rather a cream shot through with leathery brown. (Mine is dated second printing 1991 of the 1990 reissue).
I think the font remained the same for all editions, as it was only really the bindings that changed, but could be wrong on that. Personally, I liked it and found it very readable.
Interesting that the FS has published over 2400 different editions in the last 70 years, and in this thread, we have found less than a dozen to complain about.
That’s a pretty good record for any business.
You should move into politics Warwick.☺
OP... Some have disappointed, due to the small number of illustrations or illustrations out of kilter with the text.
I meant the font on the spine, not inside the book, haha.
>1 d-b: Sorry to start a negative thread
Ah ah! I love negative threads. One particularly insipid book I bought some 10 years ago was The Plums of P.G. Wodehouse, an edition of 1997, reprinted in 2004. The metallic cover, described as "full gold material", looks really cheap, and, were it not for its content, I would have been happy to swap it long ago.
Otherwise, I have experienced another disappointment with The Canterbury Tales, one of the first 4 Folio books I bought in 2003, quarter clothed with velum sides. Although the content and illustrations are good, the external aspect is just miserable. (BTW, I notice that this book and the previous one were bound by Butler & Taner, Frome. The FS did right to choose other binders.)
My A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (2006), otherwise admirable for its dark green cloth sides blocked with a 18c. map, was ruined by my single read and/or its standing upright on the shelf: its spine is even turned inwards in its upper part...
From what I can judge, this flat spine issue has disappeared in current FS products which seem to me much better bound than 10 or 15 years ago. At least one good point...
I meant the font on the spine, not inside the book, haha.
My mistake - you were talking about the cover after all!
I found East of Eden to be a disappointment. Which was frustrating as it’s one of my favorite novels. It was too big to read(for me) and I hated absolutely hated the sickly green cover and cover art. I actually gave it away to my sister a few days ago.
>42 Sorion: I hated absolutely hated the sickly green cover
They're doing a lot of sickly green lately. Middlemarch is the latest addition to the collection. Someone in the design department has appalling colour sense.
I’m not sure what constitutes sickly green. I thought that East of Eden had an appropriately healthy shade of dark green to represent the Garden of Eden and Salinas Valley. It seemed to be a robust shade of hunter green, reminiscent of agriculture, trees, and snakes—fittingly represented in the cover imagery. I am quite happy with it.
I guess that sickly green conjures up images of baby vomit and mucus and thick phlegm, which is a lighter pea soup shade in my mind.
To my mind sickly green is yellowish, whereas East of Eden seems to veer more towards the blue side of green; it doesn't bother me at all.
I think East of Eden's design is great. No interest in the book itself though.
>24 didaho: That problem is common with FolioS I'm afraid which would swell the number of "disappointing" editions - at least from a quality standpoint. Every one of the editions that are cloth with painted covers are vulnerable to moisture and rubbing. Waugh's The Loved One for instance - I had a drop of condensation from a glass (hot summer night) fall on the painted heart on the cover and in the second it took me to pat it with my shirt the paint had dissolved.
Is there a thread for tips on maintaining editions? Because I would love suggestions on what to spray on such titles to protect the paint. Some sort of clear coat is needed; I'm afraid to experiment. It would have addressed my issue and yours didaho.
Master and Margarita
This is a reflection of my own naïveté and greed rather than a comment on the design or binding etc. Although my collection is not as large as many here, it’s into triple figures and I’m very happy with all of them (even the non-slipcased early additions - I even threw out the slipcases of my first ever Folio, the six-volume 2000 edition of Proust... duh!)
No, my crushing Folio disappointment is entirely due to ordering the aforementioned Bulgakov from Abebooks for about US$120 for a “new” copy... the publication date was correct, intro by Figes etc, seemed kosher on first glance apart from dodgy stock photo. I opened the box and I immediately felt like Brad Pitt at the end of Se7en... I was confronted by a cheap Russian-language abomination instead of the much-anticipated Folio.
I got most of my money back and put in a complaint to abebooks. The seller removed it for a month or two then re-listed it for $1000. I’ve just checked online and I can now see five imitations ranging from $100 to $500 - Abebooks weren’t interested in following up...
Caveat emptor indeed!
I have a suspicion I know the seller. A while ago I found their listing on several websites, including one where the information stated that this was a Russian edition, in clear contrast to what the seller stated. When I asked them about it, I was told that their offices weren't where their books are and they couldn't confirm whether or not this was the FS edition, but no worries, I had the right to return the book after all. Which isn't as easy as it sounds considering it would have been an international return. I decided I'd better not buy from them. Considering what happened to you, Abebooks should have really followed up on this.
>52 SF-72: Haha! That’d be right - that’s exactly what they told me... “the office isn’t near the warehouse, no communication, somebody else does the listing, return if not completely satisfied yada yada yada...”
You were wise to heed your instincts...! ;-)
I strongly suggest reading this before ordering any new books on either Abebooks or Amazon:
Incidentally, Abebooks is owned by Amazon and they have been aware of this problem for many years. It has been brought to their attention by numerous unsuspecting buyers who have been defrauded and filed complaints. Amazon has yet to ban or in any way impede the activity of these bookjackers. Simply put, they couldn't care less.
re >54 dlphcoracl:
A clarification on the practices from people who may know better than I do. The term 'bookjacking' was new to me before reading this article and always wondered when I see , say a out-of-print book I would have liked selling for thousands of dollars/pounds and assumed it may have been robotic driven. Would Amazon (or Abebooks?) actually supply the robotic software ( I saw a reference to 'Monsoon' software) which would force prices up, where earlier buyers may have there orders cancelled or told it was previously sold.
I suspect I was at the end of this type of practice buying a used (relatively expensive) book, which never turned up after a period of no replies until the complaint date passed. On another occassion I bought a used Folio book that was totally mis-described on Abebooks with a stock photograph displayed (would have cost me more to return than the book was worth).
Now I only buy second hand from local sellers (Australia) where I can contact the buyer or reputable (direct) sellers mentioned on this site.
Interesting. The seller I didn't buy the supposed FS, actually probably Russian book from, is on that list.
I did have a case once in which a UK seller offered a book, didn't have it after all, and then simply bought a less good and cheaper copy from elsewhere with shipping to me. Which also took 2 months instead of the originally proposed week. When I complained they became extremely nasty and tried to cheat me out of the book I returned to them as requested, as well as the original purchase price. Abebooks finally put an end to this and refunded. There are some real 'gems' out there.
If you doubt the veracity of a bookseller or book listing a very simple thing to do is to request a few photos of the book and the binding. These bookjackers will not be able to do so because they do not own the physical book - it is owned by a legitimate bookseller elsewhere. Another clue is that the listing on Abebooks is generic and extremely brief, without any specific details of the copy that are purporting to sell. Again, there are no details regarding book condition because they do not own or possess the book.
FWIW, the three most prolific and egregious bookjackers, i.e., fraudulent booksellers, are:
Murray Media (? Florida ?)
Irish Booksellers (Maine)
Any listing from these booksellers should be ignored.
Thank you, that's helpful advice.
Murray Media were the ones I wanted more information from about The Master..., and when they didn't provide it I didn't buy from them. The other seller I mentioned seemed to have sold the book I bought elsewhere and didn't remove the listing. So they tried to solve the problem by buying someone else's cheaper copy, which wasn't nearly as good and which I hadn't bought for that reason. That's one of the problems with sellers offering their books in different places, since it can lead to problems if they're careless about removing listings and then dishonest like this one.
Not just books, there's a lot of this on amazon - CDs, lego sets, you name it, there are some astronomical prices quoted on there. New Scientist picked up on it a while back because it was getting so ridiculous.
Aside from the bookjacking phenomenon, which of course is applicable to any merchandise for sale on any website, i.e., the scam of a fraudulent seller offering goods owned by someone else at a vastly inflated price, eBay and amazon also have a high rate of vendors selling counterfeit goods. Unless I am certain with regard to the authenticity of the seller and it is known to be a reputable company of long standing, I do not make purchases on either eBay or amazon.
You got me interested in the New Scientist article , couldn't find it but came across this about algorithmic/robotic pricing when more than one is playing the game (unsure what Amazon calls it: flexible pricing ?) :
Amazon’s $23,698,655.93 book about flies (+$3.99 shipping !!)
Once a day profnath set their price to be 0.9983 times bordeebook’s price. The prices would remain close for several hours, until bordeebook “noticed” profnath’s change and elevated their price to 1.270589 times profnath’s higher price. The pattern continued perfectly for the next week.
and the authors explanation:
My preferred explanation for bordeebook’s pricing is that they do not actually possess the book. Rather, they noticed that someone else listed a copy for sale, and so they put it up as well – relying on their better feedback record to attract buyers. But, of course, if someone actually orders the book, they have to get it – so they have to set their price significantly higher – say 1.27059 times higher – than the price they’d have to pay to get the book elsewhere.
>62 peto11: Fascinating and perceptive article about this shady practice written back in, I see, 2011. I now understand why the books inflated to over $1000 by August and have returned to more modest sums now... >54 dlphcoracl: clearly you’re spot on - seven years after this article was written, they still couldn’t care less. I suppose in this respect Amazon/Abebooks are like rapacious investment banks, they don’t necessarily care whether the clients make money or lose money, they only care about margins and the volume of trade.
LesMiserables - the Wild West of bookselling indeed, I had no idea!
>58 dlphcoracl: >59 SF-72: Irish Booksellers was my dishonest seller of choice...!
I’ve been doing some reading of older threads and am aware there may be a mole within the FSD ranks... now would be a good time to reprint the damn Bulgakov already...!!
Happy New Year from Down Under :-)
If memory serves, it wasn't an article as such but various submissions to the Feedback column. I haven't been able to find them to confirm that, though. But I think computer algorithms such as you mention were at the heart of it - seller A tracking seller B, who is also tracking seller A and so the prices keep on rising to astronomical levels.
I may be wrong here but do I notice more than a proportional representation of Folio books in the sales - both past and present - that sport 'contemporary' or 'Bohemian' illustrations, rather than orthodox ones? From the top of my head, I'm thinking along the lines of Cicero, Renault, Kierkegaard, Apollonius, Cooper etc
Just a thought a thought
My only issue with Folio thus far.
My email sent:
Folio Customer Service,
I have not received my book "The Little Prince" (Order# -----------) ordered on 11/28/18. I was wondering when this book was dispatched? I have never had an issue with a purchase. I am wondering if it was recently shipped.
Folio Society Response:
Your order is currently being picked and carefully packed at our warehouse in the UK. Please check that the details of your order are correct.
Your parcel will be delivered by Royal Mail from the UK. We normally ask our overseas customers to allow up to 28 days for delivery. However, orders placed on or before 8 December (Midnight EST) will still be delivered in time for Christmas. If you have ordered Express Delivery, your parcel will be delivered by courier within 3 to 7 days.
My email was sent today... What do I do with that autmatic response?!
Are you sure it's a new email and not an old email that was sent when you placed your order last year? Sure sounds like the latter. Regardless, you should treat it as any other automatic response - ignore or delete. Customer service will reply, just keep in mind they are on London time.
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