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By Adrian
Just popping in

Question regarding the Pocket Hobbit

Feb 18, 2012
2012/2/18 12:34:51 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

I have a few questions regarding the pocket edition of The Hobbit that was released a few months ago. Judging from the pages that are viewable on Amazon, it contains Christopher Tolkien's preface that was first published in the 50th anniversary edition of The Hobbit in 1987. This preface included several illustrations and facsimiles of two manuscript pages. Are these facsimiles also included in the preface as it is reprinted in the pocket Hobbit? I know the 70th anniversary edition (2007) had the preface (in its entirety? Tolkienbooks.net says it is an "excerpt"), but I believe the facsimiles were omitted, which was the reason I did not buy it. Can any of you tell me whether this new edition does include the manuscript pages? The illustrations were probably reprinted in Hammond & Scull's Art of the Hobbit, but I am interested in (a full version of) Christopher's preface and the manuscript pages.

Also, is its printing/binding any good? I do not expect stellar quality at that price (or from HarperCollins in general), but still...
Feb 18, 2012
2012/2/18 14:34:17 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
The Preface from Christopher Tolkien in this edition includes one illustration (Mirkwood) only, so this is not the right edition for you. The printing/binding is what I would expect for a £9.99 book and I think the real problem with this edition is the numbering (2 for UK editions)
Feb 18, 2012
2012/2/18 16:37:28 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I agree, Trotter, the number is a problem. I have the same issue with the first UK 3-volume paperback of LoTR (1974) where the 1st impressions were exported. In the UK I have seen dozens of copies of these but only one that was a 1st impression (an odd volume of RotK)
Feb 18, 2012
2012/2/18 18:28:03 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Why's it a problem? The first impression is, well, the first impression --go get it! Do you both want the first impression to be available to every market, or prioritised to the UK? HarperCollins don't give a hoot about this --they were all probably printed at the same time anyway. Get 'em both!
Feb 18, 2012
2012/2/18 21:59:44 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I ordered the Pocket Hobbit from Amazon Canada, and yes it's a first edition, but the paper quality is very poor.
Feb 18, 2012
2012/2/18 23:00:26 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Christopher Tolkien's preface in the "pocket edition" is a reprint of the text published in 2007, with a small change in pagination and the reproduction of Mirkwood. The 2007 text was revised and shortened, omitting the facsimile manuscript pages and the rest of the art printed earlier; presumably this was done because John Rateliff's History of The Hobbit was published that same year and included transcription from the earliest surviving manuscript as well as some comment on illustrations (for which one also could refer to our J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator).

Christopher's foreword (as it was first called) dates from the 50th anniversary Hobbit of 1987. It was revised and expanded in the deluxe edition of 2004, in which the manuscript facsimiles were printed in colour (they're in black and white in the 1987 edition). We reproduced Tolkien's illustrations in The Art of The Hobbit, but of the two pages of manuscript only the one with art on it (the early sketch of Thror's Map). John Rateliff also reproduced only the first of the two pages in his History.

A fuller comparison may be found in a new post on our blog.

The printing and binding of the "Pocket Hobbit" are perfectly good for an ordinary trade book, though of course the type (reduced from the standard edition) is somewhat small. Anyway, it doesn't include the full text of Christopher's foreword or the manuscript facsimiles.

Wayne & Christina
Feb 19, 2012
2012/2/19 15:11:14 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks for that W&C! (--or should that be H&Sc?) I have just read your expanded explanation in your blog. Very interesting.

BH
Sep 24, 2012
2012/9/24 10:49:52 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I found the first printing yesterday in WH Smith in Oxford, surprised it is on sale in the UK, but nice to have both versions of the book

10_50603acb02436.jpg 531X1685 px
Sep 24, 2012
2012/9/24 10:55:30 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
So the story about first impressions only shipping abroad would appear to be utter rubbish then...

BH
Sep 24, 2012
2012/9/24 11:56:47 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Seems to be, and not good if you paid a lot of money to get it shipped back to the UK
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