Friday, March 17, 2023

"This is a permanent book."

I started to read my copy of John L Stephens' Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, and noticed I had only 1 of 2 volumes. My vol 1 was an old copy from Dover, old enough to still carry proudly on its back cover the note which reads:


We have made every effort to make this the best book possible. Our paper is opaque, with minimal show-through; it will not discolor or become brittle with age. Pages are bound in signatures, in the method traditionally used for the best books, and will not drop out. Books open flat for easy reference. The binding will not crack or split. This is a permanent book.

As many people still know, those old Dovers are well-made, and well-made things are beautiful, and a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Still, I ordered a copy of vol 2 sold from a third party on Amazon. It arrived today, well ahead of schedule. My first thought, taking the pristine volume from the envelope, was, "Yes, that's a brand-new book alright." Because, as many of you know, third-party sellers on Amazon often fudge on details such as the condition of the items they're selling. But this volume is pristine. Obviously pristine at first glance.

Then I turned the book over and was gobsmacked to see the proud note you don't see on the back covers of Dover books since some time around 2000, about how this is a permanent book. 

At first I thought, Is it possible that Dover have done the right thing, and once more concentrate on a quality product? But no: this volume has no 978 at the beginning of its ISBN. "6.95 IN USA" has been stamped on it.

It's pristine enough to pass for brand new, and it's at least 20 years old. That's how well-made Dover books used to be. 


Perhaps this little anecdote will inspire someone, somewhere to defiantly give people a good deal and a quality product.

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