I used to collect limited edition books. I would buy nice limited edition hardcovers from such publishers as Arkham House and Donald Grant and Dark Harvest, etc. Specialty publishers produce easily the most beautiful hardback books on the market. However, I soon discovered a nasty secret about the folk who collect such things:
Unlike me, they don't read these books.
I love to read my books. That's what they're for! But after a while it dawned on me that many of the people who purchase the limiteds are anal-retentive condition freaks who would panic at the very thought of human hands touching their books! Yeah, I know what you're thinkin':
That's totally and completely insane, Bob!
Yeah. Yer right. It is.
So after a while I just couldn't stand the thought of buying these books and knowing that one is not supposed to actually read these small print runs volumes; these finely bound editions in slipcases with tipped-in sheets and autographs by the author, by the illustrator, by the lady who proofread the damned thing, by the guy who swept the office when everyone else went home. Why was I buying these things if I'm not supposed to crack the covers (AAIIEEE!) and put my fingers on the pages and lay my eyes on lines that human eyes are not meant to see?
So, realizing how silly this all was, I stopped "collecting" limited edition books. And then I sold off every single one that I owned. Out went the Arkham House books. Away with the Donald Grant books! Off to auction houses with my Gnome Press novels and my Carcosa volumes and the rest.
Except for one.
In all of those books, there was one with which I could not part. It was just too damned gorgeous. Yes, I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and believe it when I say I read and enjoy all of my books. But this one was just way too perfect to hand off to some other buyer, no matter if I could buy groceries for a month with the profits.
It was my Arkham House copy of 3 TALES OF HORROR by H.P. Lovecraft, illustrated by Lee Brown Coye, and edited (after a fashion) by August Derleth. This book is perfection, to me. The cover is wonderful to behold. The contents are a trio of Lovecraft's finest nightmares. The execution of print and paper and binding are unequaled in any book I have ever owned.
There is no way that I would ever part with this book. It will be with me until I croak.
Then my wife or my son can sell it.
Until then, however, it remains with me.
The place of honor for 3 TALES OF OF HORROR by HP Lovecraft (illustrated by Lee Brown Coye) on my oak office desk.
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