Everyman's Library (Random House) Glued binding?

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Everyman's Library (Random House) Glued binding?

Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 2:50 pm

Hi, I'm sorry if this is not the right group but it seemed most fitting.

I have been a reader only here for some time now and just got around to register. So I joined just because I had to make a post about something rather troubling which I could not find any information about. It seems the binding on some Everyman's Library books are glued instead of sewn. The books are getting rather much praise for their sturdiness but glue is not that sturdy in my opinion. Some glued books I've own (from other publishers) have had pages fall out when the glue dried. The two I am referring to from Everyman's Library are Nabokov's "Lolita" and Conrad's "Hearth of Darkness". Everyman's Library website: http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/classics/.

From there it should be easy to find the specific books if anyone is interested. What is interesting though, is their "about" page describing their quality: http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/classics/about.html. From what I can understand it says that the binding is "Smyth-sewn", or is it maybe for some selected works only? Anyways, I have taken pictures of three books I own (among others) from Everyman's Library so you can see the difference. In the first and second image Lolita is shown and the third and last shows Ulysses. I didn't include Hearth of Darkness as it is rather thin and hard to take a good photo off.

As you can see there are "sheets" in Ulysses that are grouped and when I open it it's easy to see the thread, as it should be. Lolita on the other hand is a different story. The sheets of paper just end at the binding and no thread can be found and the sheets are not grouped as they are in Ulysses. I have some other near 1000 pages books from them and they seem to be sewn though I don't know about "Smyth-sewn". My hypothesis is that (drawn from the small quantity books I own) the thinner books are not sewn (shocker!). But maybe a more probable hypothesis is that the older books (both Lolita and Hearth of Darkness are from 1993) are inferior in their binding as the three other I own, one is from 1997 and two from 2011, all are sewn. All have dust jackets and I do not know if the older ones are reprints (from the new series).

I don't think I will buy any more books from Everyman's Library because I see it as false advertisement and am uneasy to what I will receive. I might even try to return them even though it's been two months since I bought them. So far I have been satisfied with all my books from Library of America and I hope Folio Society holds what they advertise to be able to replace non American literature. Everyman's Library was very attractive because the sizing makes them great to carry around and I taught it was a quality product (and some are?) that could stand on the shelf and last for generations. Folio Society books tend to be larger (wider) and are clunky to carry around. As an example I would feel rather weird reading it on the bus with illustrations etcetera.

Whats your take on this? Do you have the mentioned books and how are they bound? Did you know about this? Are they in fact sewn but in some different way I don't know about?

Last but not least, I'm not a native English speaker, so forgive me for misspellings and other errors. I am frustrated to which contributes to the errors.

Jul 22, 2012, 5:41 pm

I've looked at the first Everyman handy, The good soldier Svejk, printed in 1993. I see the quires, and if I prop the book open vertically, the pages fan out more or less grouped into them. This edition, the colophon informs me, was printed and bound in Germany (by Graphischer Grossbetrieb Poessneck).

Your Lolita does appear a bit different from the Ulysses and my Svejk, but, could it be that it was sewn much more tightly? And maybe pressed harder into the glue?

It would surprise me if it were a case of false advertising.

Edited: Jul 22, 2012, 7:02 pm

Well I can't say it's false advertising as I guess they don't say all book are sewn, but rather binding of high standards which includes "Smyth-sewn", but I guess it's not exclusive. Although they do create an image of a high quality product and glue is certainly not associated with that in book binding. I'm pretty sure the two books mentioned are not sewn, bending it now and it's much stiffer then Ulysses for example. Opening the books vertically, Ulysses behaves like you described but Lolita does not. I can't find the thread for the life of me and can't find any grouped papers. It really looks like glue but I'm no expert so I can't know for sure until the pages start falling out. I should say that I'm very gentle with my books so they will survive for now but time is nothing I can control. If it is glue I could have just as well gotten a paperback version.

The five books I have are Lolita (1993), Hearth of Darkness (1993), The stories of Ray Bradbury (2010), Foundation Trilogy by Asimov (2010) and Ulysses (1997). I should say that I bought them this year, 2 months ago. All of them are printed in Germany, the same as yours. The last three are considerably thicker and newer and all have sewn binding.

I quite like the three that are sewn but as I said I'm feeling uneasy about buying other books. I have considered buying: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Gibbons), The Moonstone, The Woman in White, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, His Dark Materials (by Pullman), The Raj Quartet, The Time Machine, the Invisible Man, the War of the Worlds (by Wells) and Voltaire. If anyone have any of these books I would appreciate if you could report on the binding, pictures does not hurt of course.

Should one expect sewn binding from Everyman's Library and is it worth contacting the publisher (Random House) about it? Note, I did not buy it from them but rather from a store in Sweden.

Frustration maximus, as I did my research before buying. Oh well, I'm glad I found out about it while having so few titles.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, your book is rather thick to. Could it be they use sewn binding for books over a certain number of pages as I thought? If more people could report on their books the we could get some guideline about this.

Jul 22, 2012, 7:01 pm

I don't have many Everymans, but I just located another, a 1963 edition of Marius, the Epicurean, and it looks much more like your Lolita, definitely glued, not sewn.

I think a question to the publisher can't hurt.

It would be quite a coincidence if it turned out they went from gluing to sewing precisely in 1993, but who knows.

My 1993 Everyman's Svejk, click on thumbnails to enlarge:


Edited: Jul 22, 2012, 7:28 pm

Your Marius, the Epicurean is around 260 pages, am i correct (what I could find)? I find it rather likely that the thinner books are glued, maybe putting the limit at around 500 (+/-100) pages. I have mailed Random House and linked to this thread. Although they state that they read all inquiries but can't answer all of them so an answer maybe isn't that likely.

Thanks you for the images (your Svejk looks nice and read) and information, I feel somewhat more informed now at least.

EDIT: Forgot to ask, how is the glue on Marius, the Epicurean, dry? It's quite old. Many reads or just one?

Jul 22, 2012, 8:22 pm

Marius is 267 numbered pages. This copy replaced my battered Signet, and I haven't read it, nor does it look much used, or even read at all. But the glue does seem to be very dry and ready to crack.

I bought Svejk new and read through once.

Jul 23, 2012, 11:11 am

I'm here at the campus library, and I've taken a look at 6 EL titles from 1993 and 7 from 1991, and they all have sewn bindings, whether thin or thick, whether first printings or later printings. There are about 30 other 1991 EL titles on the shelves, apparently, but my failure to find a glued copy so far is making me unenthusiastic about inspecting the others.

Everyman's Library was relaunched in 1991, so it wouldn't surprise me that Pre-1991 EL books look different from Post-1991 EL books.

adhesive, can you scan the copyright page of your apparently glued 1993 EL books?

Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 11:40 am

3>> Binding's nice, but it isn't everything. Content may differ, and sometimes Everyman may be superior in content but other times not:

"I have considered buying: .... His Dark Materials (by Pullman)...." For Pullman, check out The Golden Compass, Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition and the following second and third volumes in that edition. I haven't seen the Everyman of Pullman, but sight-unseen I'd be inclined to say that the Deluxe 10th Anniversary is superior, with supplementary material included: Lord Asriel's papers (book 1), Dr. Grumman's papers (book 2), Mary Malone's papers (book 3). The Deluxe 10th Anniversary has deckled-edged pages, a ribbon bookmark, and a dust cover. Here's a scanned image of the Deluxe 10th Anniversary Amber Spyglass binding:

Also, for works not originally in the English language, consider the quality of translation. For Russian, Everyman has a number of Pevear-Volokhonsky translations, which I would normally prefer. On the other hand, I've had several translations of The Master and Margarita over the years, and my current edition is the Bergin-O'Connor translation with notes/afterword by Ellendea Proffer. (I think the paperback is ISBN-13: 978-0679760801 although my own copy is the first-edition Ardis hardcover.) Proffer's notes/afterword may make this edition the best, although I've never seen the Pevear/Volokhonsky.

Another example would be the Everyman of Madame Bovary, where the preferred translation today might possibly be that by Lydia Davis in the Viking Adult edition.

So, on translations (and you're interested in Voltaire), check out the quality of translation.

"I have considered buying: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Gibbons)...." Here, Everyman seems definitely to be preferred. There's been an extensive discussion of Gibbons in some thread or another on (I think) the Folio Society devotees group and the consensus seems to be in favor of Everyman (which I have, in a six-volume two-boxed set) because of the complete footnotes. Folio Society purports to be "unabridged" but allegedly does not include Gibbons's footnotes. Here's a scanned image of the Everyman volume-six binding:

Edited: Aug 6, 2012, 11:19 am

I just went over to the campus bookstore and took a look at their EL books. It looks to me like all the "Pocket Poets" volumes and the Cat Stories volume in the "Pocket Classics" collection are glued rather than sewn (although it vaguely looks like they might have signatures).

Updated: See No. 20 below.

Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 2:51 pm

> 7/9 cpg
Certainly, they are appended at the bottom of the post, Lolita first and then Heart of Darkness.

I don't know if I have made myself totally clear because EL was relaunched bought and what not. My books were recently bought new and it's the new series, just one more time so people don't think they are from the 1960 or so.

Avoiding the Pocket Poets and Cat Stories as well then :), thx.

> 8 CurrerBell
You are right. It is not everything. Concerning the Gibbon I also saw that Folio dumbed it down (removed much of the footnotes) so I would take the EL even though penguin and some other publisher had newer notes (read it on wikipedia, can't remember exactly where).

Thank you about the Pullman, I'll have to check it out. Without any research on my part, what does "rough cut" mean as stated on the amazon page. Another question is if the covers are cloth bound? I guess they are.

About the translators, I have been doing some research and found that it indeed varies. Don Quixote seems to have an old translation (with that I mean bad, at least what people on the net are saying compared to other translations) as does Les Miserables, shame. While some other have good translators. So you like P/V to, many seem to like them, I guess I will read War and Peace in English before I learn russian, been putting that one off just in case I decide to learn the language one day :).

I'm sorry to say it's hard to see the binding on the images, they are blurry. If you could take a photo I would appreciate it very much. The Gibbons is of extra interest but it does somehow look like it should be sewn but I can't really tell for sure. It might suffice with a description, does it look like my Ulysses in the original post and are the thread visible when the book is open. I don' know how to describe it but when you look at the middle of one group of sheets, the threads should be visible.


Heart of Darkness

Jul 23, 2012, 1:38 pm

>10 adhesive:

The fact that these are apparently late printings (16th and 17th) seems to bode ill for the future of EL books. This is very disappointing.

I guess the answer for those of us who care about such things is to patronize other publishers instead. If you do contact EL about this, I hope you'll let us know what their response is.

Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 2:40 pm

10> "rough cut" is synonymous with "deckle edge."

I don't have a camera for a quick snapshot (which is why I used a scanner). I'll try to get around to photographing them, but it'll take me a while since I'll have to get out my somewhat bulky digital SLR and recharge the battery since I haven't used it in a while. I'm not going to get around to that in the next couple days.

I don't want to give you verbal descriptions, because I think that's exactly where you're having a problem with the Everyman website and I don't want to mislead you. Scans or photos will have to speak for themselves.

Incidentally, the Gibbons Everyman comes in six volumes in two boxed (three volumes to a box) slipcases, or at least my set is like that. You might want to be sure in ordering that you get a product that includes the two slipcases.

Edit to Add: I've never actually seen the Everyman of Pullman, but the cover quality of the Pullman 10th Anniversary isn't quite as good as the Everyman of Gibbons. I don't think this really matters, considering that you've got good dust jackets on the Pullman 10th Anniversary, and that their supplementary materials may not be included in Everyman (and of this I don't know). You'll have to make your own decision which Pullman edition you prefer, but personally I prefer my 10th Anniversary over more standard Everyman editions.

Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 2:58 pm

11> cpg
Indeed sad it is. I have contacted them and shall report back if I get any message from them. I guess I will go with Folio for non american fiction and especially English, Scottish and Irish fiction. Although Everyman's are nice to carry around.

Jul 23, 2012, 3:05 pm

12> CurrerBell
No hurry, I have time to wait with the Gibbon, thank you for your effort and future efforts.

Thanks for the input on Pullman. I'll postpone my decision on the one as I have a few other titles I wanted to buy from Folio and that will ruin me for the coming month(s).

Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 10:07 am


The Folio Society published a three-volume edition of Pullman's His Dark Materials in 2008. You should be able to find a nice secondhand set online.

Everyman's His Dark Materials binding is sewn. Also, the book looks very handsome in its red cloth cover. It does not include the supplementary material of the 10th anniversary editions.

The 10th anniversary editions do not have sewn bindings.

Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 3:17 pm


Thank you, good to know I can buy it without worrying then. :)

On another note. I received a response from Everyman's Library a few days ago and they told me all of their titles were in fact sewn, they have also been looking in the thread and seen the pictures they claim. They said that it might be harder to see the sewing on thicker books. This is weird and it is also contradictory to what I claim which makes me wonder if I have managed to make my self misunderstood. I have stated that all the thick books I know off from them are sewn (and it is easy to see) but the thin aren't. Also I'm sure that the two titles I posted pictures on are not sewn, don't see how there can be any discussion about it, it's rather easy to see. Anyways they told me to email the particular ISBN numbers so they could check that nothing have changed in the production processes. Have not heard back from them yet, been maybe a week now. I'll post back when/if they answer.

Aug 2, 2012, 4:39 pm

That's at least good to know that they are aware of the problem. Let's hope a solution arrises.

Edited: Aug 5, 2012, 1:47 pm

I have dozens of the new EL books, bought over a number of years, all nicely sewn in ... except for the last one I bought, which is glued. It's Borges Ficciones and is a very recent printing. I'm also very concerned about this and whether it is the beginning of a decline in standards. I won't buy them mail order again and will only buy in shops where I can check them first.

I should add that my glued copy also states on the copyright page "Printed and bound in Germany by GGP Media GmbH, Possneck", like the books in the photos earlier in the thread.

Aug 5, 2012, 2:05 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Aug 6, 2012, 11:15 am

>9 cpg:

I just took a second look at Cat Stories, and it definitely is sewn. Sorry about the previous bad information.

Also, I took a look at The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, which was allegedly just published by EL in June, and it has very clear signatures.

Regarding "GGP Media GmbH, Possneck", they printed all the recent EL books I inspected this morning, including several that definitely have sewn bindings. Their website says that they have "six glue binding systems, six casing-in lines, two binding stitching systems and two large stapling machines". I wonder if someone at a low level made a decision to switch some batches from a stitching system to a gluing system for some reason without alerting the people at EL.

Aug 7, 2012, 5:49 am

That sounds like a very plausible explanation. I've also written to EL to alert them to this.

Edited: Aug 7, 2012, 11:29 am

Yes, I have the Flann O'Brien The Complete Novels and despite careful use, it's cracked down to the glue in one section, in a part I wasn't reading no less. Upsetting to say the least. I will look at it later tonight, but it makes sense if it is/was not sewn.

A few months ago I purchased the green Gibbon set for the library I work at, and looking at it now it is sewn and holds together well. Not sure if it's new old stock or what.

I have Speak, Memory too and will give it a once over tonight. The O'Brien is 800 pages thick.

*We have two very well-worn copies of Les Miserables which I can look at a bit later today. They have been holding up quite spectacularly as I recall.

Edited: Aug 7, 2012, 4:48 pm

Those 2 copies of Les Mis, the binding looks exactly like your Lolita. The copies of Les Mis have been here since 2002 and the bindings are still tight, still perfect. In fact, I could probably hold the book up by one of it's pages. They have 10 and 18 circs respectively. But I'm fairly certain I see stitches, maybe they are side stitches though. Either way, it's a secure binding.

My Flann O'Brien (which I haven't really inspected yet, but I thought was a cracked glue binding) looks like your Ulysses with the signatures easily discerned and the little pockets of glue in between. But maybe it was just the way the signatures lined up when they were pressed together, or bad glue, or as the case with smyth sewn bindings, meant to lie flat. I'll just have to work the rest of the book out slowly so it's more uniform. It tends to flop open to that one point.

Without a doubt the Gibbon is smyth sewn. Just looking at it again...

*This guy is pretty knowledgeable...




Aug 7, 2012, 5:32 pm

>23 DanMat:

I have returned my Lolita and Heart of Darkness so I can't look at them again, but from the pictures and while inspecting them I would say that they aren't sewn. Now I know next to nothing about bookbinding so I might very well be wrong but they certainly aren't smyth sewn. There was no stitches what so ever, I checked the binding for some 40 pages or so. It looks exactly as another book I own where the pages have fallen out. I would post pictures but it's not in my home right now. Between the spine and where the pages end there is a golden ribbon, for Lolita it can be moved away from the page endings towards the cloth spine, thus it leads me to think it is just there for decorative purpose. In my Ulysses and every other sewn book I own the ribbon (if present, some sewn books don't have it) is attached to the ending which would indicate that the thread goes trough it, holding it in place. This is all very non-scientific observations but something smells fishy here.

I'm not sure what "circs" mean, could you elaborate. Translating it I got circumstances which I guess it's an abbreviation for but I guess you mean something else.

There is no question that it was sturdy, I did hold Heart of Darkness by one page and nothing happened. The problem is what happens in 20 or 30 years when the glue dries. I'm aware that smyth sewn books tend to loosen up but I'm fine with this as long as it's held together.

I did take a look at the links but it's way to much information for me to go trough right now. I'm really not that interested in bookbinding :).

>20 cpg:

It sounds very plausible indeed. Let's hope that Random House get's back with some information from the factory floor.

Edited: Aug 7, 2012, 7:32 pm

The Flann O'Brien and Nabokov are smyth, just checked. So, it appears to me that nothings going on. Maybe your books were different for some reason.

Circs are circulations, the total number of times a book has been checked out. Library jargon.

Yes, a lot of information. But I thought it was interesting, especially about the glue and how different papers react, etc. And the video of the book he takes apart and "fixes"...

Aug 7, 2012, 8:27 pm

>25 DanMat:

Well, then something is in fact going on as my Lolita (if by Nabokov you mean Lolita, they have a few other Nabokov books) was not smyth sewn. Something have changed in the production as your copy and mine doesn't have the same binding apparently.

Aug 8, 2012, 3:46 pm

No, the Nabokov I was referring to was Speak, Memory...

I checked the Hugo again. It's sewn, smyth sewn. It's hard to make the individual signatures out, but they are there. The thread is nearly impossible to see, but it is also there. The glue line was straight across, like the picture you show of Lolita in your first post. Again, perhaps you had one that wasn't sewn.

Aug 9, 2012, 5:19 am

Of course my books were different and there was no thread, there is no perhaps. But's its hard to compare when we aren't talking about the same books as I'm sure the majority are sewn, just not two (among others that were sewn) I bought recently. I wanted to make people aware and report back if they found any other non sewn books as there is no information about this on the net.

Well, when I get around (if ever, I don't think I care enough) I'll buy Heart of Darkness again as it was rather cheap and tear it apart, just to prove that there is no thread as I'm 100 % sure. Every page has glue between them which is not a signature of sewn books. On top of that when I emailed EL they said it should be easier to see the thread in slim books and harder in thick ones. As I can see the thread fine in a 1000 page Ulysses that's also a good indication (by their logic) that the 100 page thick Hearth of Darkness isn't sewn.

Aug 24, 2012, 10:49 am

On a somewhat related note, I just bought a copy of Oxford University Press's new biography of Himmler from Amazon.com, and the binding looks totally different from the copy in our campus bookstore, even though the book was just released this year, and both copies claim to be 1st printings. My copy appears to have a cloth-over-board cover and a perfect binding (for a thousand-page book!) and doesn't lie flat when opened; the bookstore's copy has a paper-over-board cover, has visible signatures, lies flat when opened, and is about 20% thinner.

Apparently many publishers think there's no problem with changing the physical aspects of a book and still marketing it as the same item (the sole universal exception being softcover versus hardcover).

Feb 8, 2013, 11:55 pm

>20 cpg: Hello all, sorry I'm late to this, but I just checked my Pocket Poets "Love Poems" collection, and it it sewn. I used to own the same editions of Poe and Kipling and didn't notice any problems. If they were glued, they held up well to three years of near constant carry in high-school (they were abused I can assure you). It's a shame I lost them, I built quite a bond with them. :P I also checked all of my other Everyman's Library books (30 or so) and none of them were glued - granted I don't own many of the thinner ones.

As a side note, does anyone know how to ascertain whether a Modern Library Hardcover is sewn or glued via the internet. (That is, recent printings)

Mar 22, 2013, 8:09 pm

Hey, just joined this group and was amazed to see that I am not the only one to have had experienced this with Everyman's Library. I however, decided to contact someone at the publisher to voice my concerns and find out why my copy of Nineteen-Eighty four was glued (not smyth-sewn and without signatures). Well I did indeed receive a reply which I will copy below.

"" I am sorry for the problem with your book. I checked with our production department. They said that they are not able to use stitched or sewn binding‎ on any book less than 320 pages, which is why your copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four has a glued binding. Production still tries to maintain the highest standards for all the Everyman's Library books, and they understand they are to be read and kept.

If you send me your address I can replace your copy that is coming apart. Again, I am sorry for the trouble.

Best regards,

Russell Perreault
VP/Director of Publicity
Vintage/Anchor Books & Everyman's Library
To follow up – Production now tells me that they have copies of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR that have stitched bindings. They are finding a copy for me to send you.
Just FYI that I finally found a copy of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR that has a stitched binding. Sorry that I has taken so long. Also, please be aware that I sent another regular edition, so you will get two copies of the book. Again, I apologize for all the trouble. I hope you enjoy the books.""

So there you go guys, still no real answer as to why some have signatures and others don't of the exact same book (this whole under 320 page excuse is garbage because other publishers have no trouble sewing their books with less pages, so why is it a problem for Everyman's Library????). Perhaps different versions for different countries, or the production facility in Germany is allowed to do what it likes to save in costs. Not quite sure, but from now on I would pay close attention and look at the binding before you buy. This wont stop me buying Everyman's Library because sometimes they are the only option if you need a hardcover version of a specific author's work, just be more vigilant.

Mar 22, 2013, 8:11 pm

All Modern Library Hardcover Books are perfect bound. That is they are glued not sewn and contain no proper signatures. They are basically made the same as a paperback, more resilient I should say, but still glued. However their glued binding hardcovers are superior to the average glued hardcover on the market today. But in the end both Modern Library and Everyman's Library share the same parent corporation now.

Mar 23, 2013, 12:14 am

>31 andydefreitas: "they are not able to use stitched or sewn binding‎ on any book less than 320 pages"

Among the EL books I have that have fewer than 320 pages and clearly visible stitching are Notes from Underground, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hard Times, and Northanger Abbey. I'll count myself lucky that I acquired essentially all the EL books I was interested in before the company was taken over by corporate weasels.

Mar 27, 2013, 2:46 am

I believe if more of us complained, and made it perfectly clear that such tampering with our much loved Everyman's Library is not acceptable then they would reconsider. Make our voices be heard, I contacted them through the Everyman's Library Facebook page and by emailing the corporate office directly. Can't hurt, in the end we are the consumers that keep them in business, we should be receiving what we have come to expect from this publishing house.

Edited: Jun 24, 2013, 2:30 pm

I have checked my EL copy of Lolita (1993) and it is definitely sewn. I think I counted 12 signatures and the threads are visible when you open a signature. Same thing with Heart of Darkness (1993) and The Old Testament (1996).

I have recently been thinking about purchasing several books from EL but this thread has made me realize I would need to check the books first (I was planning on buying online).

Jun 25, 2013, 6:45 pm

The 320 page rule may be a new thing to cut costs. I checked all of my EL books, and found only one to be glued binding - F.S.Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise (ISBN 0679447237). Interestingly, this is one of my more recent EL purchases (bought in March). I have other small books (like Tolstoy's Cossacks) in the series which are smyth sewn. I guess I will be more interested in older (pre-owned) copies of EL from now on.

Jun 26, 2013, 3:06 am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 26, 2013, 6:55 am

Having gone through my EL books (around 150+ volumes, all bought in the UK), I've found the following to be glued:

Jane Austen - Persuasion (978-1-85715-072-8)
Charles Dickens - Hard Times (978-1-85715-073-5)
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby (978-1-85715-019-3)
Marcus Aurelius - Meditations (1-85715-055-4)
George Orwell - Animal Farm (978-1-85715-150-3)
George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-Four (978-1-85715-134-3)
Leo Tolstoy - The Cossacks (978-1-85715-170-1)
Edith Wharton - The Reef (978-1-85715-201-2)

All of them have less than 320 pages apart from Orwell's 1984.

I've also gone through my Everyman Wodehouse books (around 40+volumes). Despite many of them being far less than 320 pages, all of them are sewn.

It looks like only the main EL series has suffered from cost-cutting.

Jul 31, 2013, 4:27 pm

This has been an informative discussion. I had never considered the possibility that EL volumes could be glued. Thanks for sharing.

Aug 27, 2013, 1:59 pm

I recently bought a copy of Everyman's "Madame Bovary", which was perfect bound and quite a disappointment. I sent in an e-mail regarding it and here is the response I got (different from all above - typical):
Good Morning,

Thank you for contacting Random House, LLC - Consumer Services. We appreciate your interest in our publications and your feedback.

Everyman's Library titles are all cloth over board hardcover books with attached ribbon markers. Some are jacketed or slip-cased as well. Volumes of less than 400 pages are generally prepared with a glued binding for the interior text block, while longer volumes feature Smyth sewn bindings. As the title you have has 368 pages, it is glued, not sewn.

The next book you plan to order Metamorphoses is 568 pages and therefore will feature Smyth sewn bindings.

Random House does not offer custom binding at this time, thus we are not able to provide a sewn copy.

Thanks so much for your time, patience and understanding.


It's a shame because I was very much excited to buy an Everyman's "Metamorphoses", but even if it is sewn, I will not be buying Everyman's books for as long as they employ perfect binding, at least in the main series.

Aug 27, 2013, 9:46 pm

Ooh, a ribbon! It's almost comical how out of touch the current owners are from their fan base. (Or maybe I'm the one that's out of touch, and the ribbons really are a major selling point.)

In any case, they're all over the place on the perfect/sewn dividing line. In March it was 320 pages, and now it's 400 pages.

Edited: Aug 27, 2013, 10:41 pm

Do you want to know the construction and features of library quality Smyth Sewn Books?

Read: ( useful for information)


Edited: Feb 10, 2014, 2:36 am

Sometimes I wish the Everyman's Library would join with The Library of America so that they could be run by a publisher that values the construction of their books instead of just the bottom line. It is shameful!

When they first began republishing they were distinguished for their useful critical work along with their excellent construction. Now as a division of Random House it would seem their quality of construction will be downgraded to regular paperbacks or even worse those of the Modern Library series.

Those of us that buy this line do so because we want to spend the extra money on something that will last and can be read multiple times without fear of binding disintegration or pages falling out. I suppose when I shop for them I will need to make sure they are either from a batch that was sewn or pick up a used version if available of the original re-released versions to be sure of integrity.

I feel if we made a petition or did something to make it clear that the people buying this line don't want it messed with in this way; perhaps they will think twice in their need to be cheap!

That is my rant.

Feb 13, 2014, 1:46 pm

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Feb 21, 2014, 11:01 pm

My newly-arrived copy of Brideshead Revisited is glued (11th printing). That does seem to rule out EL as the default mid-price publisher for buying a copy that can be read forever.
I expect the Wodehouse volumes will be safe as long as Overlook is also publishing them.

So... who puts out a good-sized catalog of modern titles in portable, durable (sewn) volumes?
FS books are kind of expensive and tend to be large. I'd like LoA more if they put out single-title books. The all-in-one volumes are too big to carry.

Feb 22, 2014, 1:10 pm

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Feb 22, 2014, 2:02 pm

The only thing that comes to mind is Collector's Library. http://www.collectors-library.com/

Their catalog is nowhere near as comprehensive as Everyman's Library, but they are nice little volumes.

Feb 22, 2014, 7:47 pm

>47 infrar3d:
Oh, those do look ideal. Thanks for the pointer!
How's their paper? Acid-free, I hope?

Feb 22, 2014, 9:21 pm

I assume so but I don't see it specified anywhere. In the two volumes I own the only information given is a short blurb on the copyright page.
Typeset in Great Britain by Antony Gray
Printed and bound in China by Imago

They also have a Barnes & Noble imprint in addition to the CRW copyright, that may just be the American editions.

I just read my Collector's Library Communist Manifesto a couple of weeks ago for a class. The gilt edges felt a little out of place for that particular work, but other than that it was pleasant to read and to carry around in my bag.

Feb 22, 2014, 9:36 pm

>47 infrar3d:

Those look great, infrar3d--excellent selection, too. I hope they flourish!

Feb 23, 2014, 8:55 pm

>45 pale_fire:

1) For those who don't mind larger books, it should be pointed out that Folio Society books in New, As New, or Fine condition can often be acquired on the secondary market for about the same as Everyman's Library's retail prices. Used books in this condition usually show no sign of being read.

2) I read Adam Bede in the Konemann Classics edition and thought it was fairly nice. For those who want small books with sewn bindings, you might try locating books from that publisher on the secondary market.

3) If you not only care about getting nice books for yourself but also about the survival of quality bookmaking, it seems to me that now is a crucial time to send a message to publishers with your wallet. When you have a choice, don't patronize publishers who do shoddy workmanship.

Edited: Apr 2, 2014, 7:19 pm

Ah, Konemann Classics!!! Lovely little books. I read their edition of Thackeray's Book of Snobs. So convienently sized...I have a bunch of others as well.

Feb 24, 2014, 2:23 pm

> 47

Collector's Library confirmed via email that their paper is acid-free. I ordered a volume.

Apr 1, 2014, 4:50 pm

My purchases of the Everyman's Library editions of

Balzac's Old Goriot
Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling

arrived yesterday and I was disappointed to see they both had glued binding rather than sewn.

It would be great if there were a reasonably thorough list of the glued editions as a caveat emptor.



Apr 1, 2014, 5:08 pm

I should add that my strategy is to warn other buyers via Amazon reviews that the books are glued rather than sewn, stating that this is a binding method associated with paperbacks.

Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 8:30 pm

45> My newly-arrived copy of Brideshead Revisited is glued (11th printing).

Just got my hands on a 1993 printing of Brideshead (UK-only edition? Published by David Campbell, printed in Germany, 315pp), so now I've got the same book in two Everyman printings a decade apart. The first printing is sewn, the 11th is glued.
I take this to mean that the books that predate the Random House acquisition are fine for us, and only post-2002 printings are likely glued if under 320 (or 400?) pages.

Another difference between the editions is that in 1993, Brideshead Revisited had a navy cover ("20th Century Classics"). Post-2002 it gets a scarlet cover ("Contemporary Classics"). Any theories on how a book that's nearly 70 years old becomes "contemporary"?

Also, the Collector's Library books mentioned a few posts back are great. Very readable despite being literally pocket-sized.

Jan 6, 2015, 12:51 am

I am starting to wonder if the UK version of titles in EL are still all guaranteed to be sewn bindings and that American versions are the ones that are becoming cheaper due to influence from Random House.

It would be interesting to know if anyone here could make a comparison or could contact the UK office of Everyman's Library and see what information they could get.

Any one interested in running this little experiment?????

Edited: Jan 26, 2015, 11:16 am

I don't have enough EL books to check, but I'm interested in the results.
I expect the difference to be pre- vs post-Random House (2002), rather than UK vs US.

Do you have UK books pre and post-2002?

If people post (or message me) their new-series Everyman books with date, pages, country, and binding, I'm happy to collect the results.

Feb 14, 2015, 1:23 am

I took it into my own hands and emailed the modern day founder about this binding situation and he emailed me back with a most assuring letter. It is quoted below, seems they do listen to their loyal customers. This is greatly appreciated.

" Dear Andy,

Thank you very much for taking the trouble of writing.

Please rest assured that all our books are again sewn & will continue to be so in both the UK & US.

We experimented with a small number of small reprints of lower pagination titles a year or two ago – you will appreciate that it can be difficult to get print prices to our quality, without unduly raising the retail prices for smaller reprint runs.

However we have discontinued the experiment, in part because of a few complaints such as yours, which I am always pleased to receive, not least because it proves how very important our production standards are to our readers.

Thank you again & with best wishes

David Campbell

www.everymanslibrary.co.uk "

Feb 14, 2015, 3:19 pm

>59 andydefreitas:

So two years ago, the VP/Director of Publicity said that they were "not able to use stitched or sewn binding‎ on any book less than 320 pages", and now we are told it was an "experiment". They experimented at not being able to do sewn bindings?

Feb 14, 2015, 3:25 pm

And throughout this "experiment", they left this statement on their US website:

"Everyman's Library pursues the highest standards, utilizing modern prepress, printing, and binding technologies to produce classically designed books printed on acid-free natural-cream-colored text paper and including Smyth-sewn, signatures, full-cloth cases with two-color case stamping, decorative endpapers, silk ribbon markers, and European-style half-round spines."

Feb 17, 2015, 4:23 pm

>59 andydefreitas:

Nice job!
(Of course their statements are face-saving -- fine by me, as long as they mean to keep them sewn).

Edited: Mar 28, 2015, 11:40 am

Bhptl, I've found this thread of interest as I own scores of Everyman's Library hardbacks, mostly more recent editions with colour dustjackets. Quite a concern that other posters confirm that sometimes even the same EL titles have different bindings.

Your copy of EL's "Animal Farm" is glued. I've checked mine. Fortunately, my EL edition of "Animal Farm" bought from Amazon a few weeks ago is definitely Smyth-sewn. The stitches are evident. My volume (cover design has photo of Orwell) was printed & bound in Germany in 1993 by GGP Media GmbH, Pössneck.

My EL copy of Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground", printed & bound in same place, was bought a few months ago. It's a 2004 issue. Like all my other six EL editions of Dostoesvky's work, it also is Smyth-sewn, despite being only 126 pages in length. I consider myself lucky with those two.

However, my EL copy of Nabokov's "Speak, Memory" (length 268 pages), oddly enough printed & bound in the same place as the other 2 books I've mentioned, but in 1999, is definitely glued. Most disappointing.

Though glued hardbacks are likely to last longer than average paperbacks, IMO, they're only slightly better as regards longevity. After a couple of decades the glue begins to crack. Then it's not unusual to see some pages start falling out. This defeats the purpose of buying hardback books in the first place.

Much concur with the gist here: no such issues with the excellent, Smyth-sewn Library of America hardbacks. If only their editions included non-US writers. Folio Society editions also seem a decent option, despite their bigger size, greater expense & some titles being hard to find.

But it seems that as regards more recent Everyman Library hardbacks, unless it's a reasonably thick volume of well over 320 pages, consider yourself lucky if the EL hardback you buy isn't a sub-standard glued edition. This will definitely affect my book-buying decisions in future & likely to result in less business from me for Everyman.

EDIT: After posting, just read Andydefreitas's comment of Feb 14, 1.23am, ie. Everyman's explanation that their glued editions were "an experiment" that has since been "discontinued". Let's hope this is so. Meantime, I'll be replacing my EL glued edition of "Speak, Memory" by Nabokov with a Library of America edition, which also includes a couple of novels.

Edited: Apr 11, 2015, 12:59 pm

Update to my previous post of March 28: today, I received George Orwell's "1984" & James Joyce's "Dubliners" in Everyman's Library hardcover. These also have the more recent dustjackets with photos of the authors. Ordered them from Amazon (UK) 2 days ago, albeit with some concerns regarding 1984 as another poster had mentioned on June 26, 2013, that his EL copy of 1984 was glued.

Fortunately, I can confirm that as with my EL copy of Orwell's "Animal Farm", my EL copy of "1984" is also Smyth-sewn. Likewise James Joyce's "Dubliners", despite the latter being only 287 pages long.

Thus, out of scores of Everyman's Library hardcovers on my bookshelves, only Nabokov's "Speak, Memory", is definitely not Smyth-sewn, but disappointingly glued. The latter has already been replaced by an excellent Library of America edition.

Conclusion going by my experience: overall, I'm pleased to say I'll gladly continue buying Everyman's Library hardcovers. However, in future, should I again come across them, I'll return any of the relatively few EL editions that were not Smyth-sewn during Everyman's brief "experiment". Smyth-sewn is the standard of book-binding we have every right to expect from the more highly respected publishers of hardback books.

Jun 18, 2016, 8:28 pm

I don't know if anyone is still interested in this topic, but I had found this thread a while back and was concerned since I enjoy the Everyman's Library books quite a bit. They fit nicely in my hand and read well, so I'm a fan. I emailed the representative listed on the US webpage to ask her about the bindings (and also if the US versions of texts were Americanized, which I really hate). This was her response:

"Dear Angela,

Thanks for your interest in Everyman’s Library.

All of our books are sewn. That said, and in the spirit of full disclosure, there was a brief period when the printer mistakenly glued a few of the shorter page count titles. A small quantity of these books are still in stock and shipping from our warehouse. We don’t distinguish between them and their sewn counterparts (the books are perfectly sound) so it’s a matter of luck what you might receive when ordering. However they represent a very small portion of our total inventory.

The texts of all the books are identical in the US and the UK. We do not “Americanize” spelling, vocabulary or grammar. When we add new books to the collection, some are edited in the UK and some in the US.

Thanks again,


I hope that's useful.


Jun 19, 2016, 1:16 am

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Sep 7, 2016, 3:56 am

Angela, Thanks. Good to read the clarification & that Everyman's Library hardcovers will continue to be Smyth-sewn without exception, bar the few remaining titles still in warehouses that were glued for reasons cited.

Re the few editions with glued spines, I'd add to Nabokov's "Speak, Memory", also Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". The former has since been sold by me at a small discount. The Conrad title will also be sold soon. Otherwise, I continue to buy Everyman's Library hardcovers & remain highly pleased with their quality.

Just wish they'd add more of Kafka's work to their existing excellent three editions (ie. Collected Stories, The Trial & The Castle). Maybe "America", Kafka's Diaries & volumes of his Letters. Sadly, the quality of Schocken's latest paperback editions of Kafka's work doesn't inspire much confidence from a longevity viewpoint.

Jun 4, 2021, 7:02 pm

I wrote requesting confirmation as to the method of bindings on the Pocket Poet Series and received this response:
"Dear Frank,
Pocket Poets – both in the UK and US, whose editions are always identical – is the only series which has glued bindings. Adult Classics and Pocket Classics are both sewn."

Sad to say the least!

Jun 5, 2021, 6:53 am

I have 24 of the Pocket Poets editions, and they're very nice-looking and affordable. Some I've had for nearly twenty years, and they are holding up fine. As I'm in my mid-fifties, I suspect that with proper care they will outlast me, glued binding or not.

Edited: Jun 6, 2021, 10:14 pm

>69 Betelgeuse: Thank you for this information and your opinion. When I got this reply from EL, I was concerned and have tried to find another publisher, alas, I have found none of this size that I like and can afford. So, again, "Thank You." I am much older than you, so hopefully these will hold up for me too. I appreciate the affirmation. Do you cover your jackets to preserve them? One last question, please: did you purchase your volumes from the UK or the US (where I am)?

Edited: Jun 6, 2021, 10:23 pm

>70 Frank_Zwolinski: To tell you the truth, I discard the jackets. The cloth covers and spines are much more attractive, and jackets get tattered over time. I have read and read-read many times all 24 of my copies, but they are none the worse and look great in their multi-colored splendor on the shelf. (Each poet in the series is bound in a different colored cloth — well not quite, there are only so many colors and eventually they repeat, but displaying a bunch of them on a shelf sans jackets gives a striking impression, like a subdued rainbow.) I purchased all of them in the US.

Jun 6, 2021, 10:26 pm

>71 Betelgeuse: I much appreciate your answers to my questions, and think I will continue to buy these.
Warmly, Frank

Jun 20, 2021, 1:55 pm

What an informative thread. I’m happy to see that EL has gone back to Smythe sewn titles as I much prefer these compact books to Folio

Jun 22, 2021, 6:26 pm

So I had ordered a bunch of the pocket poets and had to return some because I found they were glued. Wasn’t able to cancel the Marvell poems in time. I received the book today and this one has a sewn binding! So odd! But a nice surprise!

Jun 26, 2021, 12:11 am

As recently as last week, I confirmed with the publisher that the full Pocket Poets series is glued because of their small size.

Edited: Nov 23, 2021, 6:01 am

I love my EL Classics Library books. Of a few dozen volumes owned, only a couple weren't Smyth-sewn (mentioned in an earlier comment). Both since sold.

I also like this Pocket Poets series. But here, too, it's the inconsistency of their design that disappoints. I own 7 Pocket Poets books. Of these, 4 have glued spines: Beat Poets, Emily Dickinson Letters, Shelley, War Poems. But 3 are definitely Smyth-sewn: Akhmatova, Emily Bronte & Plath.

I shall keep all my Pocket Poets. I may even add a couple more. But this inconsistency will have me looking at other hardback publishers, or even paperbacks for most other poets.

Thankfully, the thicker books in a related Everyman series appear to be Smyth-sewn. For eg., I also have "Stories of Art & Artists: Everyman's Library Pocket Classics". Length 400 pages. This title is also Smyth-sewn.

Edit: Everyman's "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, 1st edition 1992, 256 pages, also has a glued spine. Disappointing.

Jan 6, 2:13 pm

Recently ordered a new copy of Hemingway's 'Collected Stories' in the Everyman's Library edition. It appears to have been printed between 2021 - 2022 (according to the 'New Titles' section on the inside flap).

Previous purchases have been entirely positive, with smyth-sewn bindings, but this one is definitely glue-bound, with some glue staining on the bottom edge. Is this normal? Has anyone else experienced this with recent editions?

Trying to decide whether or not returning it would be any use.

Jan 6, 2:26 pm

>77 TheInfraredDeer: My copy was printed in 1995 and smyth-sewn. I have all the new titles that have been released and these are sewn but I am buying the European version (in case that makes a difference).
There are two releases next month in Europe, and two in the US (which I can’t find U.K. release dates for). I’ll order the US ones if these don’t end up getting a U.K. release so can report back in a month or two if those US printed volumes are glued

Edited: Jan 6, 6:23 pm

>78 DMulvee: Very helpful - thank you

(Forgot to mention that mine is a UK / Random House edition)

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