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Wonderful contents, shoddy book
on 8 January 2011
The contents of this book are wonderful - five stars. In his own way Larkin is just as interesting and moving as any of the great poet/letter writers
As an object, this volume is disappointing - one star. Faber produce books of very varied quality. The best are very good, and include excellent recent productions of the letters of Ted Hughes, and the correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (just to focus on hardback editions of poets' letters). Their worst are dreadful (eg their recent two volumes of the letters of T S Eliot - contrast the excellent first volume they published twenty or so years ago.) This edition of Larkin is one of their poorer productions. It feels light and shoddy. The pages - glued, of course, (they were sewn in both the Hughes and the Bishop/Lowell mentioned above) are already showing signs of falling out. The paper, smelling of cheap cardboard when you turn the pages, will, I'm sure, go brown quickly. The person who gave me the book for Christmas apologised, saying she thought about sending it back.
Faber needs to understand that if its customers just want content they will wait for the paperback, or, increasingly, go for an e-book. More and more customers will only buy a book, particularly a hardback, if it feels like a quality object. It's not a question of economics. I for one would be prepared to pay a couple of quid more for a hardback if the production standards are excellent; if the production standards are poor I often won't buy the book at all.