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Death on the Nile by Thornwillow Press

Fine Press Forum

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Jul 15, 2019, 10:17am Top

Jul 15, 2019, 5:17pm Top

I'm a bit surprised by "the first ever fine press edition" of DoN. Really ?

Jul 16, 2019, 8:46am Top

I have backed the half cloth. This will be my fourth Thornwillow book.

Jul 16, 2019, 11:20am Top

Wow! That one funded fast. Not of interest to me but looks nice for Christie fans.

Jul 16, 2019, 1:46pm Top

>2 Goblin_Investor: Yes, a silly statement. If pressed, they'll probably completely redefine an already somewhat subjective term "fine press".

Personally, I'm perfectly fine with my FS copy, which I think is the right package for Christie. Folio also has an advantage of having 4 other major Poirot novels (and several Miss Marples) in matching garb. Speaking of which, I need to make sure to order their latest Poirot release, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Somehow, despite attractive pricing, I don't find Thornwillow's kickstarter title choices inspiring, so I haven't ordered any of their books yet. Too often they do stuff that's been done to death already - Shakespeare, Dante, Sherlock Holmes, Great Gatsby....zzzzzzzz.... Now they plan to release a standalone book that is part of a famous series with practically 0 chances of publishing others, plus it HAS been done in a nice format already - together with other books from the series.

I was thinking about the Mamet, but decided that war stories written by a guy with no military experience are probably a pass. Perhaps I might try Frederick Douglass.

Questions to people who already own some of their kickstarter books: how is the paper? Are they using different papers for different books? If so, are they consistently nice? Also, how is the letterpress? Deep bite, kiss printing, or somewhere in between? Nice and clear? And if any kind soul/dirty enabler would care to post a snapshot of the paper from one of the kickstarter books with some print sample, I'd be very grateful.

Jul 16, 2019, 3:28pm Top

>5 elladan0891: You can see two of their books, Inferno and Pride and Prejudice with photos on my blog, The Whole Book Experience. I think they sell themselves short, actually, by saying it is the first fine press edition. It's clearly not, as your picture of the FS edition shows. By my definition, they are better than fine press: I call them private press. That means letterpress printing, fine bindings, sometimes commissioned illustrations, nice handmade bindings. So their statement is true as far as I know.

I've got the two reviewed above and am also in for The Great Gatsby and the Frederick Douglass. This one doesn't interest me because it's not a genre of literature I'm interested in reading. I say that having never read Christie, so it's possible I'm missing out.

Jul 16, 2019, 4:31pm Top

>5 elladan0891:
I have the Thornwillow editions of The Sonnets, Sherlock Holmes Hexalogy and The Waste Land (I chose the half-cloth binding for all).

The paper appears to be the same in all 3 books; it is described in the colophons of the Sonnets and Sherlock Holmes as "vellum paper", whatever that means. The paper is a relatively thick (for the octavo format), very white, good quality wove sheet, but not special in any way I can see.

The letterpress is a medium bite that you can feel, without really showing relief through the paper (maybe that's why they chose a fairly thick paper; a bit lighter bite for the Waste Land, but definitely not just a kiss there either. The print is very clear and even, to my eye.

Edited: Jul 16, 2019, 6:02pm Top

>5 elladan0891: In addition to jveezer's excellent reviews my take on Thornwillow is also very positive. I own a number of their books including Sonnets, Holmes, Inferno, Wasteland, Frankenstein and P&P. Their paper tends to be very thick. P&P which is one of their thicker volumes in which you'd expect them to use substantially thinner paper is not the case, it still feels thicker than what's used in most Folio Society books and not delicate at all. I agree wholeheartedly with Jveezer in his P&P review in which he laments that us book nerds would love to know exactly what paper it is that we're fondling in the colophon. I have noticed the paper does vary between publications but a few of them most likely use the same type.

Hopefully the image below can highlight the texture of the various papers used. I do have a fondness for how the P&P paper looks with the slight wired mesh appearance but for the other books, while I do appreciate the thickness, I agree with kermaier that on the whole they're nothing particularly special.

As for the letterpress, generally wonderfully sharp and crisp. In terms of bite vs kiss, Sonnets, their first kickstarter, was too much on the bite-end and looked awful. As you can see it was definitely deep bite, too much for me, it became more of a distraction than anything. Thankfully they drastically improved this for their follow-up publication, Holmes, which felt a perfect in-between, it was just about visible without being distracting on the reverse page but you could most definitely feel the bite if you ran your fingers over it. Their remaining publications, Wasteland (not shown, sorry forgot to take it for the glamour shots), Frankenstein and P&P, however, were slightly more on the kiss end of the spectrum compared to Holmes but you can still make out some depth to it. There were the odd pages where you could see some light biting and on the whole the letterpress wasn't as easily noticeable if you ran your finger over the text though this may have to do with how textured the paper is. Inferno was a mix, text was the same are the aforementioned volumes but the images had more bite, that said there's so much going on his in book I feel the image bite on the reverse page actually added to the chaotic charm of the book.






Jul 16, 2019, 9:12pm Top

I have several of their books: Sherlock Holmes' Hexology, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Dante's Inferno and Waste Land. I have backed Gatsby, the Frederick Douglas and Death on the Nile. I have been impressed by all of them. When you consider what they are doing and at what price point, I think Thornwillow's books - particularly the half-cloth volumes - it's hard not to be impressed. Consider what Arion, Plutarch, Foolscap and others are charging for letterpress volumes. Death on the Nile is the first time I've backed something other than the half cloth, but the half leather looked too beautiful to pass up.

Edited: Jul 17, 2019, 11:10am Top

Thank you all for your replies! I'll probably try out Frederick Douglass or the Frankenstein, either in paper wrappers or half cloth.

>6 jveezer: "it's not a genre of literature I'm interested in reading. I say that having never read Christie, so it's possible I'm missing out"

I'm not a fan of the genre either and I've never been particularly interested in it. I did read various writings in some anthologies thinking that mystery and other related genres might be fun as occasional light entertainment. The sampling was not comprehensive by any means, but I wasn't crazy about most, from the older well-known writers - Chandler, Hammett, really disliked Chesterton's Father Brown, to some recent stuff by authors whose names I can't recall. But Christie I do enjoy. I wouldn't recommend you shelling out big sums on private press editions, but I would recommend picking up a Folio from their latest Art Deco-styled series, especially if you can find one for a good price. Don't expect any revelations, but I did find the few of her works I read (Poirot only so far, haven't tried Miss Marple yet) to be consistently good, solid occasional entertainment. Book a long train trip somewhere, bring a copy of Murder on the Orient Express with you, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the experience )

>8 wongie: Many thanks for the pics! I like the deep bite on the printed side, but hate it when it shows strongly on the opposite side. That Sonnets page doesn't look attractive to me at all. Glad to see they adjusted afterwards. The Inferno edition is definitely not my cuppa, although I appreciate that others find it interesting. Paper looks pretty good, especially on Frankenstein.

Jul 22, 2019, 2:22am Top

I'm personally looking forward to their book on WWI

I know that the half leather is very expensive (was cheaper if you backed it), but it is signed and limited! Also, there literally is nothing else like it. You can not purchase this on amazon or anywhere else. Everything they do is great, but to me, this is something special...

Jul 22, 2019, 6:05pm Top

Added to Books and Vines News some more information about Death on the Nile and the pretty cool mystery contest going on that could allow you to win -- even without purchase, a special edition of one, full leather binding with an opal of Death the Nile.


Also say a word or two there on Beauty is the Beginning of Terror, which I am expecting next week and will post a review in August. Agree with astropi, this looks to be pretty special. There is a pretty cool related podcast also, see the news article on that.

Jul 25, 2019, 7:37pm Top

Just received my half-leather if 'Beauty is the Beginning of Terror' today. Really fantastic, my favorite Thornwillow so far. Great binding, nice page design (spacing, use of color), good use of photographs, etc. Will get a full review on Books and Vines in August, but very happy with it.

Now the patient wait for Gatsby, Douglass (super excited for this one) and Death on the Nile (which I am quite psyched about, having pledged for the 'Tomb Raider Archaeologist's Edition' as I love the look of that binding). Anyway, looks like 'Death on the Nile' is up to 274 backers, still two weeks to go.

Jul 29, 2019, 10:15pm Top

I ended up backing this at the cloth level. Traditionally I’ve supported Thornwillow at the Half-Leather level but excepting Inferno I have not been overly impressed with the leatherwork and have not felt like I received value for money. The cloth however have consistently been better to my eye. Well thought out and executed. Frankenstein excepted. But everything about that edition... well nothing more need be said.

Edited: Jul 30, 2019, 11:37am Top

>14 Sorion:

I ordered the cloth version as well. My experience has been the same regarding half leather. I had seen the half leather for Holmes - and I could not justify paying the extra $400 (over the half cloth) for the leatherwork, that didn't quite impress me. Made a slipcase for the Holmes cloth version and it looks really handsome on the shelf.

Jul 30, 2019, 1:25pm Top

Frankly, the printing work of the Sonnets is awful and not acceptable to me. I am glad that I didn't get that one.

The printing of Sherlock is far, far better. Sadly, the tipped in photographs look to me like if I had printed them on a cheap printer myself. Utterly underwhelmed in this case...

The exception in terms of quality and execution that I had in my hands is their Dante's Inferno. The leather is lovely, the printing clean and crisp. I departed with it only because the overall presentation of the edition in terms of typography and illustrations didn't feel right to me.

Knowing that they exhibit a steep learning curve and the fact that I don't have a decent copy of The Great Gatsby yet makes me looking forward to getting hands on this one.

For a contrast:
Two weeks ago, I received a copy of Pyramus and Thisbe printed by the Old Stile Press. Granted that this is a far shorter work than the above mentioned ones, but the overall design is witty, well thought through, the printing and paper are great, the binding is half-leather (leather is not top-notch though)... and those woodcuts are just wonderful! If content and illustrations are to your taste, I cannot recommend enough to get a copy for 250 pounds!

Dec 28, 2019, 10:20pm Top

I received my copy of the Death on the Nile today (paper wrappers), and it seems to me that everything about this edition has been done right! I am very pleased.

Dec 29, 2019, 9:58am Top

>16 SebRinelli: I second the recommendation. It is a well designed book and the woodcuts are a perfect match!

Dec 29, 2019, 12:39pm Top

>17 booksforreading: >18 venkysuniverse:

Good to hear. It sounds like they will ship the half cloth, half leather and full leather in January so just a little longer for the rest of us.

Dec 29, 2019, 4:33pm Top

Thornwillow really seem to be finding their feet, production-wise. I can't wait to get my hands on their Douglass.

Feb 12, 1:33am Top

Surprised with the cloth Death on the Nile in the mail today! Thornwillow really succeeded with this edition. The newsprint look of the type is perfect for an Agatha Christie novel and has a nice bite without being too much. Your fingertips can feel it but it’s not pushing through to the other side of the page. Quality press work. Design is also top notch all around with this novel and the cloth feels like real value this time out. It feels like they really understood their subject and how to craft a proper edition around it.

Feb 12, 2:22pm Top

I also received my half-cloth copy of Death on the Nile yesterday, but I’m disappointed with the quality control, and I wanted to ask the forum’s advice on whether I’m overreacting, and if not, what I should do.

The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped the book was a spot on the cover. It’s small, but readily visible to the naked eye. And it’s one of those things where once you see it, you see it every time:

Then I looked at the spine, which has a big crease/ridge running down the center below the label:

Then I opened the book to the endpapers (which are otherwise lovely), only to see that one of the scarab beetles seems to have a tail growing out of its foot:

And the binding seems pretty ragged on the bottom/sides (the top edge is clean and even). I don’t know if that’s an effect they’re going for, but I just grabbed a bunch of LECs off the shelf and none of them looked this sloppy, even the ones like the Vasari or Benevuto Cellini or Roland that don’t have clean edges top and bottom:

Even some of the ephemera that was included had printing errors (I don’t care about this one, just including it for context):

This is my first Thornwillow book I’ve received, and I have to say, my excitement was significantly tempered by these defects. For $200 a book, I expected more attention to detail in the production process.

So my question to you all is, what do I do? Are these just trivial defects that are normal for a low volume fine press publisher and that I should accept? Do these rise to the level that I should ask for a replacement? Is that something they are likely to do?

Separate and apart from that question, is anyone else disappointed that the subscribers list is not printed and bound into the book? This is my first new fine press book, so I don’t know if that is customary, but I feel like the book itself is less of an heirloom if you have to keep the subscriber list with it to point to your name.

Feb 12, 2:29pm Top

>22 jsg1976: The stain just does it in for me.

I would personally ask for a refund.

As for the spine...would it be possible that it had been damaged during shipping? Or was it securely packed?

Edited: Feb 12, 2:41pm Top

>23 RATBAG.: the book was fairly securely packed, so this seems like more of a production defect than shipping damage

Feb 12, 2:41pm Top

>24 jsg1976: Replacement it is, then.

Feb 12, 2:42pm Top

>22 jsg1976:
I wouldn't think too much about the trim of the bottom edges, but the spot on the cover, mark on the end-sheet and crease on the spine would bother me.
I recommend that you cordially email to ask for a replacement; I'd be surprised if you meet with anything less than a quick and positive response.

Feb 12, 4:04pm Top

>22 jsg1976:

While I own a number of Thornwillow volumes that don't appear to have any defects I'm inclined to say yours is definitely a QA issue as I also own an equal number of their volumes that suffer from poor production especially of the spine. These range from similar creases (P&P), to completely lopsided spines (Inferno), and even spines with excessive curvature (Gatsby) making it appear to suffer a book equivalent of Hapsburg Jaw. That said I never did reach out to them, maybe being located on the other side of the Atlantic from them just made it seem almost more effort than it was worth.

If you are not satisfied do reach out to them to arrange a replacement, otherwise it'll just gnaw at the back of your mind.

Feb 12, 5:10pm Top

>22 jsg1976: I also have several Thornwillow books. Inferno and Wasteland also suffer from the creased spine, which I don't mind. I don't have any with spots anywhere though (This would be my problem with the book). The endpaper looks more like a quality issue of the paper than the printing. As for the subscriber list, this is something rather unique. I have some Kickstarter books that include the subscribers, but I don't need my name in the book. If you want to make it your own you can always add an ex libris in the book (which I'm not a big fan of).

Edited: Feb 13, 4:59am Top

I have The Great Gatsby and Death on the Nile and both have creased spines. It feels like there is a long piece of string running down the middle. I looked at their kickstarter photos (Pride & Prejudice and beyond), and it seems like all the cloth versions have that creased spine. I checked Frankenstein cloth photos and it has the spine crease too.

Feb 12, 11:55pm Top

To be frank, except for The Great Gatsby, all the other books I have owned/seen were an utter disappointment. Spine labels not attached properly, creased spines, poor printing (everything before Great Gatsby), poor illustrations (Frankentein, Sherlock Holmes)... I don't get the excitement on this board.

Feb 13, 3:29am Top

>22 jsg1976:

Thank you very much for sharing; I would personally return the volume and don't think you're overreacting.

Feb 13, 8:04am Top

I have exchanged a half leather bound volume in the past because of quality issues, and, in your case, because of the spots etc., I would not even think twice and either return or exchange the book.

Edited: Feb 13, 11:50am Top

My half cloth arrived last week. I agree there is a bit if a spine crease in mine as well, but it is fine, I would not return a book for that.

Regarding the spot on the cover though, that is more concerning. I would contact Thornwillow with the photo and ask them if they can help out. Short of returning the book for replacement or refund (which should be an option) they may perhaps have some other way to 'make it up' -- perhaps a different book at a deep discount? Depends on if you could live with the spot or not.

Regarding the book itself, I think Thornwillow is still developing as a publisher. I showed the book to an acquaintance of mine who knows far more about books than me, and he immediately stated he didn't care for the binding for the quite simple reason that the author's name is not on the spine. This was the same with 'The Great Gatsby' as well. Seems like a design choice, but it is off putting to many book collectors it seems.


Feb 14, 9:36am Top

My half cloth arrived yesterday. IMHO, the Great Gatsby was a way superior production and a much better value for the money spent. The book itself is fine and does not have any of the flaws as discussed. But it does not look like a book worth $200. This probably will be my last purchase from Thornwillow. Other than Great Gatsby, I did not feel positive about any of their productions. The only positive is that they are printed letterpress.

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