Persephone Books discussion

How important is it for the books by Persephone authors that you read be Persephone editions?

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message 1: by Emily (new)

Emily | 5 comments A few months ago I was at a used book store trading in some books for store credit. Among them was the Persephone edition of Doreen by Barbara Noble, which the dealer snatched immediately for his "to buy" pile, apparently without noticing or caring that it was ex-library. Among the books that he didn't take was a 1934 American edition of a Dorothy Whipple novel They Knew Mr. Knight. He pushed the rejects back to me saying "these are old books of little to no value"

This made me wonder how much of the appeal of Persephone books comes from the attractiveness of the Persephone editions. There's something compelling about the trim neatness of those uniform covers, and the splash of color you see when you open the endpapers.

So my question is, if you saw, for sale, at a lowish price, an old copy of a jacketless slightly shabby book that Persephone has resissued would you buy it or would you hold out for the Persephone edition? Based on what I see on eBay, a lot of people would say the latter. Old editions under $10 don't seem to sell readily, but it's almost impossible to find a Persephone edition for sale for less than $20.

As for that Dorothy Whipple novel, I've since posted it on paperback swap thinking it would be snapped up, but so far, no takers. I'm annoyed to think that dealer may have been right, because he was very condescending!

message 2: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 10 comments *laughs* going to Pswap RIGHT NOW.

message 3: by Emily (new)

Emily | 5 comments The American publisher changed the title to The Great Mr. Knight, so that's how this copy is listed on paperback swap. It looks just like the image for this edition on goodreads (because it is in fact the same copy...)

I'll be happy if the book finds a home (and I get a credit), but my interest in the question I posed is quite sincere!

message 4: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 10 comments It depends on the condition of the book. A nice hardback edition - especially library bound - would ALWAYS be my choice. But a beat up, musty hardback or a shiny new pback - I'd take the pback. Unless the hardback had old illustrations or plates. Also, I think the price gap would matter - the bigger it is, the more I would go with the used book.

message 5: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 114 comments Great issue to bring up.

Just as personal opinion, I am not necessarily looking to purchase the Persephone edition. It still bugs me that Persephone cut down the original text of The Shuttle by Burnett. I am a devoted Burnett fan and know she deserved better than that. I think a publishing house of literary fiction seems to have a lack of understanding of the original work when they do that. And my biggest gripe is Perspehone never advertised that it IS a shortened version -- you only find out after you get it in hand and look in the title material. (Unless I have missed some much later notice AFTER I made the purchase several years ago.)

However, as you see, that hasn't stopped me from supporting them and ordering from them. It has given me a very neutral position though and on the "must have a Persephone gray cover edition" issue. Emily, I would just as often go for the old edition without the dust cover, like you mentioned! Especially if it seemed a text I preferred :)

message 6: by Jane (new)

Jane (beyondedenrock) | 4 comments I like to have Persephone editions. For the introduction or afterword as much as the beauty. Jessica Mann's introduction to Doreen has stayed in my mind as much as Barbara Noble's novel.

But I will pick up an older edition if I come across one in a bookstore, and I have earlier editions of books by Dorothy Whipple and Monica Dickens that I read before they were published by Persephone that I don't really feel the need to upgrade.

I have spoken to a couple of book dealers who have taken the view that the interest in Persphone books is fashion led, and that readers are picking up books because they are Persephones without having the interest to investigate similar authors or even other titles by Persphone authors.

That's not true of me, or I supect of anyone sufficiently interested in books to become involved in discussions like this, but I think it is possible we may be in a minority.

message 7: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 10 comments @Sarah, point about The Shuttle is an excellent one - shame on Persephone! - and that reminds me that I have a beautiful, though worn, edition of The Shuttle which I infinitely prefer to the Persephone copy, even if the Persephone version were the full text.

message 8: by Gina (new)

Gina | 319 comments Mod
Great topic, Emily! I personally would prefer to purchase Persephone editions just because they're so pretty...but I have purchased older copies of the books by other publishers plenty of times because it's cheaper. I haven't noticed any big problems between the editions except for The Shuttle (which was a pretty big deal, I agree!).

message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol Eshaghy | 16 comments I do have some editions I purchased on Amazn in the beginning and I like the colorful covers on those books as well.

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