To me, an indicator of true luxury is a hardback book. Not only do they look better in shelves, but they have more heft to read, and they age better (no split spines).
The Folio Society takes old (and some more recent) classic works of fiction, fact, poetry, history and art, typesets them, designs a wonderful new cover, and then republishes them.
The Folio Society was conceived by Charles Ed (1921-2002) in 1947, who was inspired by private press publishers in the UK. The Society was not intended to compete with those publishers, rather Ede aimed to produce a 'poor man's fine edition' - a well designed, printed and bound book to which the 'common man' could aspire. In October 1947 Tolstoy's Tales went on sale for sixteen shillings.
To obtain the benefit, you must become a member by paying an annual fee. You then must buy a minimum of 4 books a year. Nothing really. We have bought dozens of their books over the years. Here are some examples of their amazing range:
Justine by Laurence Durrell (part of the Alexandria Quartet and on my summer reading list (it's pretty heavy going)
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (my favourite Roman emperor)
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (perfect for that 20 year old cousin who needs something to rebel against)
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Food In History by Tannahill
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
In Your Garden by Vita Sackville West
(sources: Wikipeida, Foliosociety.com)
Venice by Jan Morris (must read for any trip to Venice)
Trouble is my Business by Raymond Chandler
Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (easily one of the best books about Australian indigenous people ever written)
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (sadly this is I think the only Australian book I have seen them publish)
Jane Austen's letters (Note - the cover is embroidered silk)
Inventions of the Middle Ages
100 Years of Solitude by the grandfather of Magical Realism Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In Flanders' Fields by Leon Wolff
The Elizabethan Underworld (can you imagine? The Melbourne underworld would have nothing on this.)
A book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David
Charlotte's Web by EB White
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Grimm's Fairy Tales with illustrations by the wonderful Arthur Rackham
Lewis Carroll's Alice. I have these for my daughter and they came in a lovely red fabric box.
I could go on.
In Australia the Folio Society advertises in the cheap ads in the newspaper magazines. You would be forgiven for putting it in the same category as a dietary drink or exercise machine but they are so wonderful for any lover of books. And because they reprint old books, you can take a (paperback) you may have read many times and replace with a hardback from Folio which will last forever. In the above, very arbitrary list, I am very tempted by To Kill a Mockingbird, my current copy is at least 20 years old and falling apart.
In this post was a hint to a giveaway, which is book related, which I am running next post.
Have a happy day.