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Re: History of Middle Earth

Subject: Re: History of Middle Earth
by skwishmi on 2008/4/18 0:50:31

Trotter said:
"Deagol has done a fantastic job of documenting the UK books and to do the same for the US editions would involve two things.

1 - Actually having all the books in one collection.
2 - Spending many hundreds of hours documenting them on a web site.

So for these two reasons I think it is unlikely that a web site as comprehensive as Deagol's will exist for US books.

Greetings all,

First, thank you Trotter for putting up the link. Though it is off topic, I'd like to speak to this subject. To put a point on it, about five years and $3000 annually to throw at it is what it takes... but those are not the reasons, to my mind.

I have collected or seen the vast majority of the U.S. books; I go armed with notebooks to used bookstores for the most common things, and the ones that have to be purchased would take a huge amount of space to keep around, so most of those are documented and re-sold. There are very few gaps in the highly detailed archive for anything over 20 years old at this point (most of the editions less than 20 years old are actually still in print and cannot be finished) - but it is not all online.

The primary reason: the market is different on this side of the pond. There are a lot fewer U.S. editions, because a) Tolkien is England's native son, and b) almost all the U.S. material has been mass produced for a huge population, sometimes to dozens of printings of a single cover. Even taking into account the books only printed once, perhaps one twentieth of all U.S. imprints are of interest to the Tolkien collector who wants one example of everything. The nostalgia hunter will care even less about details - he simply wants the books he remembers "from back when". Lengthy pages in text format that include exact printing dates, cover prices, etc. exist - but does anyone care about printing number 26 of 40, and is it worth muddying the waters to post it? My thought is no... that's why TUSTG is not called a bibliography, but a location guide; I believe it is much more functional in its current form.

The secondary reason stems from the first - what would one do with an avalanche of not-terribly-collectible books that have to be purchased? Even I'm not crazy enough to want one of each U.S. printing of everything... and I'll tell you, it's been as much work to get rid of them as it was to find them in the first place. Some of it is for sale on the website, and Amazon has been very helpful in this arena - but it's still a financial drain, and time consuming, and though of course I keep some of the best stuff, there is not a world-class Tolkien collection at the end of this road....

There is more that could be said, but I'm going through a patch of burnout at the moment, so it isn't too hard to keep a cap on it. In case anyone wonders what happened to the reference and criticism catalog, it will be back in July.


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