I don’t mind the trade paperback. They can be solidly made and often are well designed. Nonetheless, in the hierarchy of books hard covers trump paperbacks, particularly hard covers with dust jackets.
That brings us to my copy of William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses, a key volume in the Faulkner canon. It’s a Vintage trade paperback, a respectable edition, although mine is a bit bumped around with some underlining. I believe it was a hand-me-down. I have no attachment to it, well, no particular attachment to it.
Then at the local library bookshop I recently came across this old Modern Library edition. Now, Modern Library editions are fairly ubiquitous: serviceable, but not usually something to write home (or a blog post) about. But add in the rarely seen Modern Library dust jacket and it’s a whole new ball game. Here is a nice copy of Go Down, Moses in an early state dust jacket, also in nice shape.
A “first thus” Modern Library edition in dust jacket can be quite collectable. Alas, this is a later printing, but still a handsome copy on the shelf. It even comes with an original owner inscription telling me it was “Bought at Jackson, Miss.” in 1962. For a copy of Go Down, Moses that seems to add that bit of extra authenticity.
The Modern Library dust jackets themselves are interesting. Often imaginatively designed, inside is a fine print list of all (then) available, and numbered, titles. On the back is a coupon that you’re instructed to “tear out” (*shudder*) and mail in—no wonder those dust jackets are hard to find! I believe Dante had a special place for those who advised that dust jackets be mutilated, not to mention those who actually did it.
Of course, having gone through all that I remembered that there was this Southern Living Classics edition setting on the shelf. Ah, well.