Thornwillow's Ulysses

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Thornwillow's Ulysses

Out 14, 2021, 6:30 pm

Curious to get reactions to Thornwillow's decision to publish Ulysses in installments. I am still processing, not sure if I want to devote that much shelf space to this one although I admit the concept is interesting to match the original publication format.

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 9:46 pm

>1 LBShoreBook:

Going to be expensive - even for the paper wrapper

But it will at least stand out.

Out 14, 2021, 7:09 pm

I’ll definitely prefer the 4 Volume set as opposed to the 10 Volume set. I don’t own a copy of Ulysses, so I’ll likely be buying one of the 4 Volume versions. I believe they’ll be offering installments, which will help spread the cost.

Out 14, 2021, 7:12 pm


Editado: Out 14, 2021, 7:41 pm

>3 Esoterics: So half leather early Kickstarter - $2400 + ?

Don’t want to think about the full leather prices yet..

And they may have 1-3 limitation states… what will those cost?

Out 14, 2021, 7:28 pm

I really like the concept! I'm worried about the price though- hopefully the paper version will be slightly more affordable.

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 7:52 pm

>1 LBShoreBook:

Quick thoughts and observations:

1. The ten-volume set in paper wrappers is both ugly and impractical, taking far too much shelf space.

2. The four-volume set in half leather and patterned paste paper over boards is stunning.

3. The cost of a four-volume set with full morocco bindings will be prohibitive for all but those who do not already have a fine or private press edition and/or collectors who consider Ulysses a foundational work of literature.

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 8:10 pm

Does any of Joyce's communication support this being his ideal vision for the novel? I'm debating between this and the beautifully bound Bodley Head edition printed on vellum. Having never read Ulysses but understanding the style of writing, I'm concerned breaking it up into multiple parts will detract from the immersion of the stream of consciousness and allusive jigsaw.

Edit: The typesetting (new typeface called "Requiem") and page layout look spectacular. I'm leaning toward purchasing the 10-part wrappers and rebinding.

Out 14, 2021, 8:06 pm

Looks like the Kickstarter goes live on Monday so we will see what the prices are

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 8:07 pm

>5 punkzip: I imagine they’ll be in line with the typical cost x4. The Half Cloth like always will be a great value and may be my choice depending on the cost of the other options; the half leather did look good in the video.

Out 14, 2021, 8:12 pm

>8 PatsChoice:

The Bodley Head Ulysses is NOT beautifully bound. Rather, it was bound in a lime green buckram cloth and every copy I have seen shows significant fading of the book spine. It is printed on Japon vellum paper which is wonderful and the presswork, page design and typeface are all very much to my taste. After many years I purchased a copy with the least amount of spine fading I encountered and over time I was still dissatisfied with it, so much so that I finally acquiesced and had a bespoke full morocco binding made by the Zaehnsdorf division of Shepherd's Bookbinders. The iconic Homeric bow designed by Eric Gill for the front cover was perfectly replicated and I added five raised bands to the spine and had a matching slipcase made by my bookbinder in Chicago. Photos below:

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 8:21 pm

>11 dlphcoracl: Thanks for clarifying. It looks like the calf vellum is an official production by the Bodley Head while the green leather is a sign of great minds thinking alike.

Two examples can be found here and here.

Out 14, 2021, 8:20 pm

>7 dlphcoracl: Agreed and >11 dlphcoracl: A subset of the edition was bound in full vellum, although it appears to be as expensive as the Arion Press Moby Dick on the secondary market, judging by Abebooks.

I wonder if Thornwillow will finally go with a mould-made or handmade paper for this edition, at least for the half-leather and full-leather states. That would be be very enticing indeed.

Out 14, 2021, 8:34 pm

>12 PatsChoice:

The 100 copies with full calf vellum binding (see colophon above) are extremely expensive, typically selling for between $40,000 to $50,000 and this is not a practical consideration. However, Paul Foster Books in London - an extremely reliable bookseller I have dealt with - has a near-identical copy of my Bodley Head Ulysses in a darker green full morocco binding and it is well-priced at 2,500 GBP = $3,475 US dollars. Link below:

Out 14, 2021, 8:41 pm

>13 ultrarightist:

The cost of a fine handmade or mould-made paper for what Thornwillow is planning is extremely expensive and will probably price the four-volume half leather set out of the reach of many collectors, and therein lies the rub. The Bodley Head edition is printed on a luxe paper (Japon vellum) putting it in a different league, making Paul Foster Books' copy all the more attractive.

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 8:47 pm

>14 dlphcoracl: Thanks, Oracle. More consideration will be given once we get all the details on Thornwillow's production. At the moment, the typography (especially the novel typeface) of the new production makes rebinding the cheapest copies (which also happen to be the ones that are ostensibly closest to Joyce's initial vision for release) an attractive thought. That said, it's hard to beat 900 pages of Japanese vellum.

I think many collectors in this community may deliberate over this as more folks become aware of the Bodley Head alternative.

Editado: Out 14, 2021, 9:27 pm

>13 ultrarightist: I'm surprised that Thornwillow doesn't even upgrade the paper for its very expensive 1-3 limitation states.

Out 15, 2021, 12:22 am

>15 dlphcoracl: I do not like the typography of the Bodley Head edition. It looks like a trade edition.

>17 punkzip: Same

Out 15, 2021, 2:39 am

Did I miss an email? I don't see anything about this online apart from the not-at-all-detailed Kickstarter coming soon announcement.

Out 15, 2021, 3:09 am

>19 gmacaree: A sneak peak was sent to Thornwillow's supporters on Patreon.

>8 PatsChoice: Agreed: The page layout looks really good, and this is the reason for the many volumes. To fit all of Ulysses into one volume forces cramped type, much like the Bodley Head whose typography doesn't distinguish itself much from a trade edition. (Agreed, >18 ultrarightist:)

Requiem is a very nice typeface, but it isn't new, I think it was designed in the 1980's.

I can't wait to see on Monday whether Thornwillow has opted to use some mouldmade (or even handmade) paper this time!!! Beautiful edition either way.

Out 15, 2021, 8:26 am

>19 gmacaree: the announcement and video is on the Fans of Thornwillow FB page as well

Editado: Out 15, 2021, 8:50 am

>20 grifgon: Ah, thanks Grif. The YouTube description of the sneak peek describes Requiem as a "new font," but they must've meant new for this work. Either way, it looks very suitable.

A few more pictures from the Facebook group. I'm very pleased about the multiple colors.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:30 am

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Editado: Out 15, 2021, 10:07 am

Here are some thoughts on reading Ulysses in a fine/private press edition.

My thoughts are it is better to do this for a reread, not the first reading.

I've read Ulysses once, using a paperback. It is a difficult book and I used 2 secondary sources - the Bloomsday book and Ulysses Annotated. I would read Bloomsday book (which was like a more advanced and detailed Cliff's Notes) before the relevant parts of the book. This gives you a general idea of what is happening, as it is hard to figure this out in some parts of the book, and I thought this prepared me for the reading well. Then when reading the book I would look up the references (not all of them) in Ulysses Annotated. There were a LOT of references which I didn't know. So this resulted in a lot of going back and forth, and again I didn't look up all the references, maybe 3/4 of them. One of my friends is a lit prof who has taught Ulysses and I was advised not to look up all the references, just selected ones. This process was laborious and I'd actually only read about 5 pages a day before moving on to something easier. In retrospect I might have used a recent digital version where you can just tap to get an explanation of the references.

Besides reading, there were multiple useful audio supplements - for example the full cast RTE (Ireland national radio) reading, Great Courses lectures, and an amazing podcast series by Frank Delaney (unfortunately unfinished due to the podcaster's passing).

IMO one of the virtues of a good fine/private press edition is increased reading immersion - the feel of the paper, the letterpress, typeface, layout, illustrations, etc. But this would be disrupted in the process I described above.

However, if I did a reread, I'd just read the book straight through. That's where a fine/private press version would be valuable for me.

If you are interested in the publication history of Ulysses, I'd recommend this book:

Out 15, 2021, 10:08 am

>22 PatsChoice: >23 the_bb: Ooooh, I hasn't realized that Thornwillow itself had called it a new typeface. In that case, I bet it's a new face that just happens to have the same name as the Hoefler? If they've commissioned or a designed a brand new face for this edition, that's incredibly cool.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:30 am

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Out 15, 2021, 10:28 am

>26 the_bb: Huh! Maybe "new" as in, "not a hundred years old"!

The Hoefler Requiem is a good face!

Editado: Out 15, 2021, 12:09 pm

Took some screen grabs of the half-leather from the YouTube video. I’m smitten!

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:30 am

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Out 15, 2021, 11:57 am

>29 the_bb: The Lord's aesthetic work, and the devil's budgetary work.

Out 15, 2021, 12:03 pm

>28 ChampagneSVP: It's stunning, but there's no chance in hell I'll be able to justify the cost of 4 half-leather volumes for a book I'd decided I'll never be reading again.

Joyce is an important author to me, and I encourage everyone to experience Ulysses at least once particularly if you have the opportunity to read it in beautiful letterpress for the first time, but I think just about everyone will find it to be a once-and-done read.

Out 15, 2021, 3:28 pm

OK. I've had a little time to mull this over with the little info we have so far. Although I probably won't be able to add another edition of Ulysses to the seven I own due to the expected price, I really love what Thornwillow is doing here.

And I personally like the paper-wrapped edition the best of what I know about the different states so far. There are several reasons for my preference. I only have experience with Thornwillow's paper-wrapped books mainly for budgetary reasons. I like their value to price ratio. And I like that I would have passed on those books entirely without this affordable option. I also already have and have read elegant leather-bound editions like the Arion Press edition, the Folio Society LE, and the Easton Press facsimile of the Limited Editions Club. But more specifically for this particular book and author, I like that they are doing something different and putting it out serially like it was originally considered. I like that in this case being paper-wrapped matches how the true first was issued. I like that they stuck with the iconic blue cover albeit with beautiful patterns. (I do think at least one of the 10 should be plain in homage to the true first). I would love to read and experience the book in this incarnation. I hope I get to.

I've got at least one more Ulysses read in me in this lifetime. Right now I'm planning for that to be in the true first edition facsimile I picked up years ago. Coolest cameo of that original blue cover: somewhere in Morgan Llywelyn's tetrology on the Irish Revolution for freedom the protagonist spots a woman reading the banned book covertly on the train, quickly hiding it when she notices she is being watched. Now you can fly your blue Ulysses flag in most public places without fear...and I encourage you to do so.

But this Thornwillow would definitely jump ahead of that edition and be my next read if I manage to afford it. I will be studying that Kickstarter page in detail when it goes up.

Out 16, 2021, 12:47 pm

I like the idea of a 4 volume edition. It will look lovely on the shelf I've no doubt. Practically I'm unsure that I want to spend the money at this point. Until it's time I reserve judgement.

Out 16, 2021, 2:08 pm

>33 Sorion: I'm with you and depends on the price point. If it's priced lower than arion's subscriber price of Don Quixote I would be very interested but based on looks and prior thornwillow acquisitions I don't not view them as equals and should he cheaper. Time will tell!

Editado: Out 16, 2021, 3:55 pm

>34 Joshbooks1: If you are talking about the half leather, I think that's reasonably likely as the Arion Don Quixote is $2800 and I think that the 4 individual volumes won't be that long. The leather - no way. This makes the AP Don Quixote which is full goatskin look reasonably priced given the length of the work. Given the looks of the half leather I might have to rationalize this by thinking that the half leather typically goes up in price very substantially after the Kickstarter while the price bump for paper and half-cloth is more modest.

Out 16, 2021, 3:55 pm

>34 Joshbooks1: Maybe a better comparison than DQ would be the AP Ulysses. The quarter leather and linen Printer's edition (no illustrations) was $5000.

You can check it out on the Arion Press website and in my blog post here:

Editado: Out 16, 2021, 3:59 pm

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Out 16, 2021, 3:59 pm

>36 jveezer: why would that be more expensive than the 2 volume full goatskin DQ given that it was published earlier in addition? is $5000 the secondary market price?

Out 16, 2021, 4:03 pm

>38 punkzip: I purchased directly from the press when the edition was sold out except for a couple of the Printer's editions. While I love my AP DQ, which I believe lists for $4000 on the AP site, the Ulysses blows it away and is probably the crown jewel of my library.

Out 16, 2021, 4:10 pm

>39 jveezer: so it’s the size of the volume that makes it so expensive you think?

Out 16, 2021, 4:29 pm

>39 jveezer: Makes sense and thanks for the information. I wish I was a member during that time and would love to have that edition but far too expensive now on the secondary market. Same goes for Moby Dick! I love literature and Joyce has never been my favorite, however, Thornwillow may change my mind.

Editado: Out 16, 2021, 5:16 pm

>38 punkzip:
>39 jveezer:
>40 punkzip:

The edition jveezer discusses on his The Whole Book Experience is an anomaly, an edition of the Arion Press 'Ulysses' without the Robert Motherwell illustrations, and it is known as the Printer's Copy. Andrew Hoyem had them made because the thicker, stiffer paper selected for the Motherwell illustrations makes the book unreadable because these pages will not lie flat against the text block when turned. Only ten Printer's Copies were made and they have never appeared on the secondary market. If they did, I would guesstimate they would be offered at $7,500 to $8,500.

The AP Ulysses with the Robert Motherwell illustrations is considered a livre d'artiste edition because it contains 40 original illustrations from a world famous artist, a major figure in Abstract Expressionism. This typically is offered at $20,000 to $25,000 in the secondary market and when it makes a rare appearance it is difficult to find in NF or fine condition. The alum-tawed white pigskin used for the binding was an extremely poor choice and it often darkens considerably or develops foxing, i.e., the tan spotting often found in handmade papers. It is much more expensive than the AP Don Quixote because, as jveezer correctly states, it is in an entirely different league. The quality of the French Johannot paper and letterpress printing is other-worldly.

Out 16, 2021, 10:51 pm

>42 dlphcoracl: “ the thicker, stiffer paper selected for the Motherwell illustrations makes the book unreadable because these pages will not lie flat against the text block when turned”

Does anyone have photos or video of this? I assume you can hold the book open with two hands and the pages stay down? Or are the illustration pages truly so stiff that they spring up when you try to turn the other pages so that it’s not possible to put up with for as long as it takes to read Ulysses?

Out 16, 2021, 10:59 pm

>43 ChampagneSVP:

You have described it perfectly.

The pages with Motherwell illustrations are so thick and stiff they spring up into the air and remain so. The book can only be read if placed onto one's lap or onto a book holder/lecturn and the illustration pages must be held down with the left hand after these pages have been turned. If one has the ingenious STILT reading device, the long magnetic bar can be placed on top of the turned illustration page so that it remains affixed against the left-side of the text block. The ten printer's copies are a godsend for precisely this reason.

Out 17, 2021, 12:07 pm

>43 ChampagneSVP: @diphcoracl is correct. When I had the fortune (no pun intended) to acquire a copy I was at first put off that I wouldn't have the illustrations. But as a reader not a collector and after a conversation with Andrew Hoyem about exactly that issue, I was very happy to have a more readable state of the book. I don't want to fight with a book while I read it. I want it to want to be read.

Out 18, 2021, 9:55 am

Subscribed to the 4-volume half-cloth. Anything more would annihilate my book budget!

Out 18, 2021, 9:58 am

I've gone with the 10 basic paper wrappers as I plan on making this an ambitious rebinding project after thoroughly understanding the book.

I think the "Nausicaa" set looks fantastic, though, and was close to being won over.

Out 18, 2021, 10:03 am

>46 gmacaree: Me too. I'm also quite pleased that they offer the ten installments, as there are a lot more books coming at the end of the year.

Out 18, 2021, 10:04 am

Blue paper for the Dedalus edition? Any thoughts on that? The bindings look fantastic as does the printing on the other papers shown. I didn't see any examples of the blue paper.

Out 18, 2021, 10:12 am

Out 18, 2021, 10:22 am

I pledged for the PROTEUS Half-Leather edition. Looong wait until Dec. 2022 though...

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 11:31 am

I backed the early bird half leather. Had to make a quick decision as it was going quickly. $595 a volume. The paper wrapper copies were a non-starter. $950 or $1450 (for different paste paper wrappers) for paper wrappers was an easy pass. It was between the half cloth and the half leather (leather wasn't as pricey as I thought though). I didn't like the looks of the half cloth - although it was the best deal overall - so I went for the half leather at the early bird. Did not have much time to debate as I got the second to last early bird half leather. Surprised at how fast these were going.

EDIT: looks like they are releasing additional early bird numbers as the limitations fill.

Out 18, 2021, 10:30 am

I opted for the DEDALUS full-leather (early bird knocks off $100 per volume).

Out 18, 2021, 10:30 am

After reading through the Thornwillow Kickstarter campaign for their Ulyssses editions, the Folio Society edition with John Vernon Lord illustrations (2017) has never looked better.

Out 18, 2021, 10:33 am

As usual, the cloth edition looks like a great deal. I went with the early bird half leather. When I first looked they were all available. After I ordered there were 7 available. Then one but now 5 as they bumped the number (to 15). I assume they'll keep bumping the number by 5 as needed for a while.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:30 am

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Editado: Out 18, 2021, 10:59 am

>55 kdweber: wish I knew that ;) I would argue that this is not a fair strategy for customers as someone backed the non early bird half leather and is out $400.

Out 18, 2021, 10:38 am

>49 SDB2012: I hope they release more information on this. That sounds like the best production.

Out 18, 2021, 10:38 am

I backed the cloth edition as most consistent with my desire to feed and house myself in 2022. I do wish the clamshell box could be had for that state as well, perhaps as an add-on, but I'm pleased nonetheless.

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 10:41 am

>54 dlphcoracl: I was about to comment saying the same thing. I own the Folio Society edition and absolutely love it. I was hoping the Thornwillow edition would be an upgrade worth jumping for, but those prices! I may be tempted yet, but it seems my book budget for 2022 is still safe.

Out 18, 2021, 10:43 am

>54 dlphcoracl: Mostly disagree. The illustrations are beautiful in the FS edition but accounting for all the sensations of reading, the Thornwillow is leagues ahead through typography alone.

Out 18, 2021, 10:56 am

I am disappointed that the half-leather and full-leather editions do not use higher quality papers (mouldmade or handmade) to substantiate those much higher prices. I was hoping that Thornwillow would make a foray into higher quality papers with their centennial Joyce edition.

Out 18, 2021, 11:00 am

>62 ultrarightist: price would be much higher..

Out 18, 2021, 11:02 am

>63 punkzip: Does a $2K price difference between the half-cloth and half-leather editions on the basis of the difference in binding alone (mind you: same paper) seem reasonable to you?

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 11:21 am

>64 ultrarightist: price differential for early bird was $1520. For 4 volumes the price differential is completely in line with prior Thornwillow Kickstarters - in fact it is a bit better as the cloth is 215 a book compared to the usual Kickstarter 195. The cloth is the best deal but that’s always the case for Thornwillow. I thought about the cloth but it was still 860 for something that I’m not excited about the looks of. I also like the large box the half leather comes with.

As I’ve mentioned previously TW cannot even be bothered to use mouldmade or handmade paper for their 1-3 limitation states which can be in the $5000 + range - why would they do this for half leather or regular leather?

Out 18, 2021, 11:16 am

>54 dlphcoracl: I was thinking the same thing this morning. Even at the higher secondary market prices it is a more attractive option than, say, $1,000 for a paper-wrapped edition.

Out 18, 2021, 11:41 am

Going to have to sleep on this one. Might go for the cloth. I definitely won't go above this as I don't like the idea of spending that much extra just for the bindings. Regardless, the multi-volume approach makes it a pricey offering.

If the cloth had a nice box or slipcase to go with it, I could see myself being easier to convince.

Out 18, 2021, 11:46 am

>65 punkzip: Good points, but do you think that $1520 for half-leather alone (not full leather, and same paper) is justified, on its own merits rather than relative to other Thornwillow titles?

Out 18, 2021, 11:47 am

>57 punkzip: You can change your pledge if you missed the early bird initially and they release more.

Out 18, 2021, 11:47 am

I’ve gone ahead with the 4 volume cloth edition with ten monthly instalments. It’s the best choice for my budget and I’m happy to see that Thornwillow made this possible for us with limited means. I did add the Journal but found out it comes for free to those whom subscribe to the Monthly dispatch. I hope it gets sorted.

Out 18, 2021, 11:48 am

>67 EdmundRodriguez: I would love to have that opportunity to buy a slipcase for the 4 volume cloth. Shall we write to Luke?

Out 18, 2021, 11:49 am

>68 ultrarightist: It also comes with the handmade Solander box, which I wouldn't say negates the point you're trying to make, but as I understand it, this is not an insignificant additional cost.

Out 18, 2021, 11:52 am

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 12:05 pm

>62 ultrarightist: I agree. Paper is the single most important physical material input.

Happily for my bank account, Joyce does not do much for me. Supposedly there is some beautiful prose, but from what I have read (which admittedly isn't that much) it doesn't seem that remarkable, and I don't find the general aesthetic all that appealing.

Despite sharing your feelings about the paper, I do like the look of several of the states, and greatly appreciate multiple volumes for long works. In some ways, this version reminds me of the version of The Brothers Karamazov that D. B. Updike did for the Limited Editions Club. Similar style with paste paper over boards, similar form factor (small octavo), though the Updike Karamazov is three volumes rather than the four for Ulysses. I even think the 10 volume paper wraps version is attractive, though I prefer the consistency of the less-exclusive "monogram" covers over the mixed paste paper spines.

I just spent some time reading a few articles and comments online about what people get out of Ulysses, and this comment on Reddit (*) solidified my opinion that it probably just isn't for me, especially given the opportunity cost of all the other books I could be reading instead. Why revel in the mundane and prosaic when one can aim higher?

I don't mind works that require some effort to appreciate, highly allusive works, or esoteric works. Moby-Dick, the Divine Comedy, anything Milton wrote, the "Hermetic" aspect of Whitman... Hell, I read Heidegger and enjoyed it.

Obviously just my own opinion, and I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade if you are excited about this, but I would genuinely be curious about what the well-read folks here get out of Ulysses, beyond experiencing a landmark of modernist literature. If I did want to ever read Ulysses, this would be the format I think I would prefer, so I am half looking for an excuse.

(*) Excerpt from the Reddit comment mentioned above: ... Basically, this is the only novel I've read that documents the human experience in such excruciatingly mundane detail that it includes a lot of humorous and slightly embarrassing stuff that we all do, but you hardly ever see it in literature. ...

Out 18, 2021, 12:15 pm

"Mrkgnao! the cat said loudly," as his head exploded with thoughts, regrets, and bookish wishful thinking.

I'm used to going with paper-wrapper states with TW due to my love of food and a roof over my head. But in this case, surprisingly, the cloth bound state is a better value and cheaper in the long run? I was actually looking forward to the implementation of the aborted installment plan Joyce and his publishers started but not enough to pay more for soft covers over hard covers. I was surprised also by two paper-wrapped options. My main nit in that is I feel the "plain" option should be plain Ulysses blue in homage to the true first. Another minor regret of going cloth is having to wait longer. I would love a new paper-wrapped chapter showing up on my doorstep every month or so, even though that adds a lot of shipping costs (seemingly fixed luckily, which the press might regret when Dejoy's "business" plan for the Postal Service kicks in). I also am relieved that neither of the states that are doable for me have any "early bird" or limitation pressure other than the 30 day length of the Kickstarter. So I have time to mull...

I think if I could have any state, I would go for the Molly state as it seems the most unique and quirky. "...his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 12:43 pm

>60 mnmcdwl:
>66 LBShoreBook:

The 10-volume paper-wrapped editions were an automatic non-starter as I do not want to lose that much shelf space for one novel and the 4-volume cloth and paper bindings were not visually attractive. The only option I found aesthetically appealing was the 4-volume half-leather Proteus set and even at the Early-Bird price it does not represent a $2,380 improvement from the deluxe Folio Society edition. Frankly, although it is not letterpress printed I find the FS deluxe Ulysses reading experience to be superior to what I would anticipate with the Thornwillow Proteus edition. Specifically:

1. I greatly prefer having one large volume that is still not too thick and unwieldly rather than four volumes.

2. The Folio Society binding is equally attractive, perhaps more so.

3. The John Vernon Lord illustrations are outstanding.

4. The Dante type, page design, and large quarto size of the FS deluxe edition in combination result in an outstanding reading experience.

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 1:15 pm

>68 ultrarightist: No, but how is this different from any other publisher in the industry? When you move up the price scale for a individual fine/private press book, limitations are lower and objective value gets worse. This is true - in general - for the largest fine presses like FS, the largest letterpress publishers like TW, Arion, and Suntup, and the small 1-2 person presses. Would it be ideal if objective values were always in line with the price, no matter what the price or limitation? Sure. But that's not how the industry, such as it, seems to work.

FWIW, IMO the worse value is the paper wrapper, just comparing to prior TW Kickstarters. The letterpress wrapper is $95 a volume. The problem is that while prior paper wrappers have been $95 at the Kickstarter, these were MUCH longer books - you are breaking up a single longer book into 10 volumes in this case, so it's maybe 1/3 to 1/4 the length of an average TW book. Perhaps they will compensate with a larger font, but the overall amount of letterpress printing is still substantially less per volume. For example, Song of Solomon is about 97k word count. Ulysses is about 265k total, so roughly 26k a volume - novella length. Now, $145 a volume for the paste paper wrappers, no way. The other prices did not surprise me at all. I was expecting the price of the individual paper volumes to be intermediate between $95 and the Dispatch titles.

Out 18, 2021, 12:50 pm

>76 dlphcoracl:
I certainly found the Folio Society standard (or fine, if you will) edition unwieldy!

Out 18, 2021, 1:15 pm

>77 punkzip: I completely agree regarding the relatively poor value of the paper wrapper editions. And, as >76 dlphcoracl: stated, too much shelf-space is needed.

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 1:19 pm

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Editado: Out 18, 2021, 1:27 pm

Not too sure about the shelf space though as I'm not sure how thick the paper volumes will be (depends on the font size and layout). They are only about 26k word count each so they may take up comparable shelf space to the 4 volumes sets in the solander box.

Based on the KS so far, a substantial number of people seem to think the early bird half leather is the sweet spot as these are going very quickly. The cloth unsurprisingly has the most pledges as that is the least expensive option. Standard paper wrapper is not doing that well, and interestingly the $145 deluxe (paste paper) is doing substantially better than the $95 version.

Out 18, 2021, 1:33 pm

I spoke with Abbie from Thornwillow on the phone as I was curious about why the Requiem face has been referred to as new—it turns out TW is working with Jonathan Hoefler (the creator) to add ornaments and embellishments to the original face to create a specific design for Ulysses.

Also, regarding folks' question on paper types—Abbie said she'll send me an email with some proofs of how the different papers look with the type, but they are having predictable supply chain issues and have not yet actually acquired the blue archival for the "Dedalus" edition and may end up using another type of blue. Not sure if this also applies to the cotton rag for the deluxe leather.

I'll post updates/pictures as I receive.

Out 18, 2021, 1:36 pm

I opted for the half-cloth edition. If the half-leather edition had been printed on mould-made paper at that price or a moderately higher price point, I would not have hesitated to to go for it.

Out 18, 2021, 1:39 pm

>82 PatsChoice: They should have definitely included the information about the typeface as it adds to the appeal of their edition, in addition to substantiating their claim to its novelty that was justifiably questioned on this forum.

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 1:46 pm

To me the Thornwillow Ulysses looks to be in a totally different league than the Folio Society edition, as well as most editions. Speaking of which, you could always purchase the relatively inexpensive Easton Press or Franklin Library edition - but that said, the Thornwillow Press edition looks amazing, albeit I can't deny that is it very expensive.

ps 29 days to go and they are at $170k! I wonder if this will be their most successful kickstarter? Good luck to them, I hope they succeed :)

ps2 Also I love the fact that Thornwillow will be doing this:
In 2022, we’re excited to invite you to join Thornwillow Press and the Thornwillow Institute for our celebratory Bloomsyear Centennial Reading of Ulysses. We are uniting hundreds of readers from all over the world—writers, actors, singers, scholars, collectors, and friends of the Press, to record themselves reading sections of the novel. We will then consolidate these clips online to create a virtual cover-to-cover reading of Ulysses—censors be damned!

Out 18, 2021, 2:21 pm

At this level they really should be providing more detail on the paper.

Out 18, 2021, 4:18 pm

>82 PatsChoice: Luke also provided a little more info about papers in his response to a question in the campaign comments:

All of our paper is heavy, soft, and archival... and ideal for letterpress printing. Unfortunately, because of the discombobulation of the last year we have run into some problems with availability... so we are not yet 100% certain on the precise paper for each edition. That said, we are cautiously optimistic that given the lead time we have set for the project we will secure the planned papers.

What we are planning is for the very top tiers (Lestrygonians and Bloomsday editions) to be printed on natural white 100% cotton, soft archival stock (Crane's Lettra) which is technically not a mould made sheet but very similar in feel.

The full leather Dedalus edition will be on blue paper (either Lettra or another soft blue archival paper that is very beautiful).

The Classic Installment Edition is planned to be on a warm white felt finished paper. Which is also planned for the cloth and half leather tier.

We are planning a Milkweed felt finish paper (which has some subtle inclusions) for the Deluxe Installment Edition. The Deluxe Half leather and the Limp Vellum (Molly) edition are planned to have a natural white felt finished paper.

All this being said... I must reiterate that though these are our plans, the specifics are not yet guaranteed. What I can guarantee is that it will be of top quality, archival, and beautiful.

Out 18, 2021, 4:29 pm

>86 _WishIReadMore: Agreed but supply chain issues probably mean it isn't nailed down yet. Here's betting that most versions will use Mohawk Superfine.

Editado: Out 18, 2021, 4:44 pm

Given the supply chain issues I'm wondering whether the KS could have been launched earlier - perhaps even back in June 2021 on Bloomsday (which would have been ideal for publicity) . For the non-paper pledges December 2022 will be at the end of the centennial year and of course the most public attention will occur in June 2022 for Bloomsday. It seems strange to actually mostly miss the centennial year for a centennial publication. Not a big deal for me as I've read Ulysses before and know the book well but I'm sure non-paper backers who haven't read Ulysses would like to read their very expensive new acquisition during the centennial year.

Out 18, 2021, 4:55 pm

>87 const-char-star: Maybe TW needs to go back to making their own paper? That might take care of the supply chain issues (or create different ones...). I think grifgon mentioned in a post somewhere that making paper was one of their differentiators in an earlier era of the press.

Out 19, 2021, 3:39 am

Honestly.. It’s probably a pass for me. Nothing here excites me overmuch and I’ll probably just wait to pick up the FS edition when I see it, if I see it.

Out 19, 2021, 7:26 am

Fwiw the Folio Society 2017 version is great in my opinion. Nicely executed single volume, not too expensive, interesting illustrations and great for readability in terms of overall book size/font size etc (I read it in this edition this year). I have not purchased a Thornwillow book in a while but assume it will get printed in their standard size, which seems like it will take up a lot of shelf space. So on the cheaper end of the offerings - FS edition seems better. At the pricier end - one might hang out for e.g. Matisse LEC/ Arion press edition to pick up at auction as an alternative.

Out 19, 2021, 8:07 am

The second hand prices for the 2017 Ulysses published by the Folio Society are slightly prohibitive. I saw the matching Finnigans Wake offered for £500+ but have seen it sell for higher. I would never pay that price to be honest. Anyone remember what the retail price was for Ulysses and Finnigans Wake?

Out 19, 2021, 8:10 am

>93 ironjaw:
Ulysses was £70 on sale June 2019.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 8:17 am

>93 ironjaw:

IIRC, both books originally sold for about 145 to 160 GBP ($200 to $225 US dollars).

Out 19, 2021, 8:17 am

>93 ironjaw: Given the centennial, I'm guessing FS may reprint Ulysses. There will be a lot of attention in June 2022 around Bloomsday so sometime around then for an announced reprint would make publicity sense.

Out 19, 2021, 8:21 am

>94 GusLogan: >95 dlphcoracl:

Thanks Gus and >95 dlphcoracl:

>96 punkzip: you’re right, I’m patiently waiting for the centennial. Let’s see what happens but I do believe we might see a reprint of the 2017 fine edition.

Out 19, 2021, 9:29 am

>88_kdweber Though most of their paper does come from Mohawk (which btw owns Crane's, Strathmore, and a number of other brands), they haver never used superfine. Their papers are much more interesting than straight forward superfine. (Superfine is a premium paper and better than what most places like FS use). The TW paper choices are always really special and unusual. If they can use Lettra for the top tiers, that would be amazing. It is very similar in touch to a mouldmade paper, but is manufactured differently so can't be called mouldmade. And its made in the US.

Back in the day when Thornwillow still had the paper mill in Czechoslovakia (they were there for 14 years) they made the handmade paper for Cranes (and Montblanc and Cartier btw) and were instrumental in developing the Lettra paper for Cranes. Apparently they did all the testing and sampling and worked with the Cranes R+D people to design it. They were looking for a way to produce a mouldmade style paper in America. And I thnk Lettra was successful in achieving this.

So, I understand that Thornwillow would be loyal to Lettra since they helped create it and to Mohawk who is a local manufacturer near the press. Also, Mohawk has worked with them to create special versions of paper for their books in small exclusive batches so when they don't label it precisely, it is because it doesn't have an actual name. They are, IMO too quiet about the uniqueness of their paper which causes people to think its somehow less special, when in fact it is actually more special than most people realize.

As to the earlier comment about handmade paper making, i know this is something they are very eager to get back into. They certainly have the space (if you have ever been up to their "Makers Village" you know), but I think it is about how to finance the cost. it would be big investment. Perhaps something that could get off the ground with a campaign to solicit donations to the Thornwillow Institute? Or they need someone to give them a grant!

They have the knowhow, the space, and the desire. I think its about how to raise the funds to pay for it. Thats where customers and donors come in. Their scale is much more ambitious than other fine presses I am aware of. How they afford to do it is a mystery. I believe in supporting them and their mission in every way we can. It's not like a commercial enterprise like FS or Suntup. They're different (not always perfect) but definitely worthy of our support.

Out 19, 2021, 10:02 am

The great edition of Ulysses in the first one. Sylvia Beach in the numbered edition. All the others bother me. The Motherwell illustrations, though he's famous, do nothing for the experience of reading Ulysses. And the book is best used to hold open a door, not to read. I think Sylvia Beech and Thornwillow have it right. No illustrations. Just beautiful typography. Let your imagination do the rest. Even the Matisse edition, though highly collectible and prized, is not enhancing the experience of interacting with the text. The FS edition is like putting lipstick on a pig. Nothing special about it at all, except its cheap. Bad typography. Clunky. Uninspired. Franklin and Easton shouldn't even be discussed on this forum. I think the Thornwillow edition actually is bringing to the table what Ulysses actually needs—beautifully designed pages, printed letterpress, with attractive margins, in bite size portions that make the journey of reading it pleasurable. (They should do this for Moby Dick).

The version I am surprised people are not jumping on is the Deluxe Installment one with different handmade paste paper wrappers on each volume. Everyone says thats bad value. I disagree. It is frankly incredible that they can bring it out for that price. All letterpress. Paste paper covers. Sewn bindings. These are full size Thornwillow paper wrapper books but now with handmade paste paper covers. They should be more. These are the "accessible" ones that will be sought after later.

The Vellum Molly one is also really special. And a great deal. I have tried to get a binder to do a limp vellum binding for me of another book I have, and they wanted twice the price to make it. So, if you can afford it, this is a great version. Like the Doves bindings, Ashendene, or Kelmscotts. Really cool that they are doing this. I saw one of Thornwillow's multicolor edition of Genesis in vellum. Its incredible. (on Lettra paper btw).

And, my very favorite is the speckled calf. I have a speckled calf binding from them with marble endpapers (which they make themselves, I watched). They really get these bindings right.

Don't know what to say about the Bloomsday binding. it looks amazing. I have one Sangorski binding with 4 little jewels. Very cool. Thornwillow's is very expensive, but again, not crazy for what you get. (they're not like the old Sangorski... but as good or better than Sheperd's "new" Sangorski).

Also, I think the idea of their top price books is they really are to reward patrons and inject some money into their operation.

HERE'S A THOUGHT What if we could rope together 10 people to buy 10 Bloomsday editions with the goal of seeding a handmade paper operation. Not too crazy an idea. ;)

Maybe even tax deductible (if done through the institute).

Editado: Out 20, 2021, 3:58 am

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Editado: Out 19, 2021, 10:33 am

>99 FvS: Definitely disagree about the value of the Deluxe installment - IMO it's a very bad value. The Deluxe installment is $1450. The early bird half-leather is $2380. The half-leather also uses handmade paste paper boards. It also comes with a large solander box. I don't know the value of this but it's possible it may be offered as an add-on for half-cloth subscribers (there was a question about this on the KS and Luke said he would look into it), so we might find out what the value is. Durability when you are spending $1450 is also an issue - if I were buying a single volume perhaps I wouldn't care as much but for $1450 it's definitely an issue. As I previously mentioned, you could also compare to prior Thornwillow KS releases where the paper wrappers (not paste paper though) have been $95 each for much longer books - the Ulysses will have 1/4-1/3 as much text per volume as a typical TW paper. Compare to the half-cloth also which is the best value (although aesthetically uninteresting IMO) and it's not even close.

Based on the KS so far, the paper wrapper versions aren't that popular - although the Deluxe installment is more popular than the standard installment. So a lot of others have probably made similar judgments.

I'm puzzled by the speckled calf being the highest state (with the exception of the extremely expensive Deluxe leather of course). Why is this much more expensive than the teal Moroccan, outside the limitation? Paper will be better sure, but remember for the Poe volume the speckled calf was $795 which was $200 LESS than the least expensive Moroccan goatskin!

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 10:56 am

>101 punkzip: Pricing of the speckled calf volumes most certainly comes down to the other materials used. Marbled endpapers rather than handmade paste paper, frontispiece portraits being printed as photogravures, and the Cranes Lettra paper (as you already pointed out).

The calf bindings generally also have additional gold tooling along the raised bands of the spine.

Out 19, 2021, 11:01 am

>93 ironjaw: As also mentioned by >94 GusLogan:, the FS Ulysses was 70 GBP in the Summer 2019 Sale, which is when I bought it. Considering current secondhand prices, it was a great buy. Contrary to >99 FvS:, the edition is eminently readable and the artwork fitting (I am reading it again now, being prompted by the Thornwillow announcement). While I don’t doubt that the typography on the Thornwillow version will be better, I’m not sure it will be 10, 20, or 30 times better—My personal opinion based on my collection of a great deal of Thornwillow’s recent publications, from half cloth to limp-vellum bound. Let each person be their own judge though. To be honest, if the paper wrapped version was priced in-line with their monthly dispatch, I might have been tempted for the novelty sake. Likewise, had the half leather been about half its current price. I don’t discredit what Thornwillow is doing here, but for those who find the prices too rich for the taking, searching for a secondhand Folio, or waiting for them to print it again, is not a bad option.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 11:03 am

Abby (apologies for spelling her name wrong earlier) emailed me this morning with a couple of proofs. I've emailed her to confirm, but I believe the picture with text is a ballpark example of the white archival they're aiming for while the latter two are blues. I assume, as const-char-star has pointed out, they prefer working with Lettra for all materials if possible.

Blue paper is beautiful in concept and lends to the dreamlike quality of Joycean prose, but I wonder if it's the best choice for colored drop caps. I think I would prefer stark- or snow-white; heavy, textured, and soft. What do y'all think?

Out 19, 2021, 11:06 am

For coloured drop cap, definitely arctic or snow white

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 11:55 am

>102 const-char-star: sure. I was just wondering why calfskin in general for the highest (accessible) state - given that it is less expensive than Morrocan goatskin and TW has already used calfskin in the Poe book for a less expensive book than the full Morrocan.

Out 19, 2021, 12:07 pm

>99 FvS: As a reader not a collector--I feel like I need an acronym (AARNAC!) for this as it seems it is unsaid in every comment I post on discussions like this--I'm surprised by your comments on the true first. Of course I would love to read it, and definitely all the collectors discussing value and price on here would like to have it, but I don't think I would consider it beautiful typography. Is that from a printers perspective? Or from the experience of actually seeing one of the 1000 firsts on handmade paper and printed letterpress? Otherwise I don't find the typography and design necessarily noteworthy. And it was replete with errors due to the printers "ignorance of Joycean English" according to Enda Duffy, who introduced the unabridged republication and facsimile of the 1922 Beach edition for Dover in 2009.

For this lucky reader, nothing I've read compares to the experience of reading the Arion Press Printer's state of the book. Can Thornwillow come close? Maybe. I'll see when I read it. Typography, layout, and definitely paper definitely affect the reading experience. I was expecting my next read to be in the Thornwillow installment state and was excited for that both because of the novelty of going with one of the early publication plans for the book and the fact that I would have book(s) in my hand sooner. But the economics probably dictate I go with the half-cloth and I'm excited to see my first example of a Thornwillow book in that state if I make it through two more birthdays in this fraught world.

As to the 2017 Folio Society Ulysses, if it is as nice as the 2014 Finnegans Wake, then it is well worth owning. I passed when it was published because it was mostly the completist in me, not the reader, that wanted it next to my Wake. And nothing about it made me necessarily want to embark on a re-read; a necessary requirement for me when I buy another edition of a book I already own.

The Thornwillow, in any of the states offered, definitely offers enough to justify another re-read in this reader's opinion. Especially on the centennial of the novels publication.

Out 19, 2021, 12:31 pm

>106_punkzip I think the speckled calf is a lot of extra work. The skin is individually hand speckled and polished copy by copy. BUT your right, Morocco also is expensive and time consuming to tool and polish. My experience is that calf (especially speckled calf) is usually more than goat when I looked into getting something custom bound. But the speckled calf in the past for TW has not always been more. Not sure why. They are different, but both beautiful in their own way. I heard they were having trouble cutting down the variants because there were so many different things they wanted to do. As it is there's a lot to choose from. For me, I love the idea of the speckled calf for Ulysses. I think a historic binding with marble endpaper is great. But as mentioned I think the other states are really interesting too, especially the limp vellum.

>101_punkzip I'm sorry. I do not disagree with you at all about the Half leather being great and a better value dollar for dollar. I just think that the idea of reading it in installments and the idea of getting 10 full size books with paste paper wrappers, all letterpress printed, in sewn bindings seemed really compelling and certainly WORTH what they are charging. And, I think they will be in time likely to appreciate in value more than the cloth version because they are in my view more special than the cloth. BUT I agree totally. The half leather in the box is also a great price and they are beautiful. Maybe I just like the installment version.

I believe that these 10 books will each be between 100 and 200 pages. Not as big as their Pride and Prejudice, but certainly as big as their WWI poetry volume. And the page size is much bigger than their chapbooks. Does anyone have the page dimensions? Did I miss that on the campaign page?

Regarding the slipcase, when I have had one off custom slip cases made (properly made) they have cost $500. I've gotten disappointing ones for less. But good handmade ones are in this range. If they offer one more economically because they would be doing a bunch of them for us at once, I would definitely be in for one. But I would not want to pay $500 for it. Let's see what they say. $350? Maybe there. hmm.

Out 19, 2021, 12:41 pm

107_jveezer I agree with you completely. The True first is for the idea of it and the thing itself. I also agree the typography is not distinguished at all. Thornwillow's typography will be far better. My comment about the first edition was first because its just so neat in the context of the history of how the book came to life. (TW's installments will also be far more attractive than the Little Review copies they show on the video).

My main point is that for this book I don't think illustrations add. I don't think Motherwell or even Matisse for that matter help. I agree exactly with what you say that beautiful typography, nice margins, beautiful printing are key.

I am really excited about what TW is doing and the installments. But also agree that any of the states they are showing offer something exciting and needed and will be a pleasure to read.

Out 19, 2021, 12:50 pm

>108 FvS: I understand that the paper wrapper will be the same dimensions as the regular paper wrapper releases (e.g. Poe) - not Dispatch size. This was posted on the TW fans FB page.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 1:23 pm


Out 19, 2021, 2:42 pm

Nearly 200 backers! I'm happy to see that their kickstarter is doing so well.

Out 19, 2021, 3:03 pm

>112 astropi: It's really remarkable how well the Kickstarter is doing, given the high price of the lowest entry point ($860) and the difficulty of the book.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 4:15 pm

A LEC Ulysses signed by Joyce and Matisse will be up auction for those who want to bid on it:) . Estimate $8000-12000. Will likely still be cheaper than the Deluxe Leather (Bloomsday) Thornwillow Ulysses, even after the buyer premium/taxes etc.

"One of the very few American livres de peintres issued before World War II. According to George Macy, who undertook this only American publication of Matisse's illustrations, he asked the artist how many etchings the latter could provide for five thousand dollars. The artist chose to take six subjects from Homer's Odyssey" (Riva Castleman, A Century of Artists Books, pp.35, 61). When asked why he did not illustrate episodes from Joyce’s novel, he responded that he hadn’t read it."

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 4:53 pm

>114 punkzip: I really wish Macy had not used Matisse for the LEC Ulysses. I very much enjoy Matisse's work, and I think he was an admirable person. However, the sketches are so simple, and of course have nothing to do with the book. Here is one of them

Leaving Matisse out would not only have made the book far more affordable, but actually more desirable from an artistic perspective - again in my mind :)

Out 19, 2021, 5:02 pm


LEC edition at auction supports the auction house and person who is cashing in on a sale. Buying Thornwillow editions support a going concern that is committed to preserving the book arts and is employing people who are keeping these crafts that we love alive.

The fact that Matisse never read it and admitted it, underscores entirely my point that it doesn't bring much to the table — except making it more valuable because he is a famous artist. If you want Matisse, buy a Matisse. If you want Motherwell, buy a Motherwell. Neither of them improve your experience of interacting with Ulysses.

I'm not at all against artist's books. Love them when they make sense. The Moser wood engravings in Arion's Moby Dick, for example, are a perfect example of a great fit. The LEC Rimbaud Season in Hell with Maplethorpe photographs is another example that really works for me. Or even George Cochrane's hand lettered and illustrated Inferno (that I've had trouble warming up to) that he did with Thornwillow, shows a deep and passionate connection with the text that adds to the experience. That Matisse didn't even read the book... and that Macy said, "how many do I get for $5000" rather than, "what do you think would be the best way to enhance the readers experience", says it all.

The Thornwillow edition will be, the best one out there that I am aware of for experiencing the text... and will help a good cause that all of us on this forum are interested in... otherwise we wouldn't be here going on and on about it.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 7:19 pm

Why I chose to purchase the Thornwillow Press edition of Ulysses
- I do not own a letterpress edition of Ulysses (I do own the FS fine edition, which I like very much)
- Typography
- Page design

Why I opted for the half-cloth state rather than the half-leather state:
- Same paper - the 'innards' of the two states are identical, and I do not feel that the cover alone, however attractive, merits the additional cost
- Opportunity cost - I'll use the money saved to purchase Lyra's forthcoming edition of the Picture of Dorian Gray

Out 19, 2021, 7:40 pm

>114 punkzip: I don't follow the ebbs and flows of book prices too closely but $8-12,000 for that book seems very low if it's in fine condition. I thought the copies with Joyce's signature were going for $25,000+ a while back but I could be wrong. There are copies on Abe right now for $25-37,000 but I don't know what they've actually sold for. That's way out of my book buying league.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 8:10 pm

>117 ultrarightist: I chose to purchase the TW Ulysses as I do not own any fine press edition of the book. It's a landmark of Western literature and a fine press version is something I ultimately have to have. Also I don't see any other press doing a letterpress version of Ulysses any time in the foreseeable future. Who could do it? Arion of course but they already have done it. Having read Ulysses before I know that it does not really benefit much from illustration and reading experience is paramount.

I opted for the half-leather. The half-cloth was certainly the best value, but the bottom line was that I found it aesthetically uninteresting. Regardless of the price, it was still $860 for 4 identical looking books which did not appeal to me aesthetically at all. I might buy 1 TW half-cloth which is aesthetically uninteresting if it was the best value, but not 4. I also wanted the solander box. Did not even consider the paper wrapper states. Thought about full leather briefly but I like the different paste paper boards for the half-leather. In addition, the early bird was $400 cheaper than the standard KS price and after the KS ends both the half-leather and leather might eventually be $1000 or more over the early bird KS price- a much greater difference in price than for the half-cloth versions based on prior TW books. This might be a consideration if resale were ever an issue.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 8:20 pm

>118 SDB2012: I don’t follow the market for this book myself - I just posted the auction houses estimate. I assume they would estimate higher if possible to make the book seem more valuable but I know very little about auctions. No idea about the condition as you’d have to ask the auction house for a report

Out 19, 2021, 8:20 pm

I'm surprised there are so many full calf packages available. Is this due to price alone? It doesn't seem that it's moved since the first hour.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 8:21 pm

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Editado: Out 19, 2021, 8:23 pm

>116 FvS: Totally agree with this. This is likely to be the best edition of one of the greatest (and my personal favorite) works of literature ever written at a price that is high but gettable. One of the rare times when we are actually there for the party and not looking back with envy at those who were there. I've got the FS LE and the 2017 FE they did as well. Love them both. The art in the LE is a poor match for the work imo. The art in the 2017 edition is lovely but oddly a bit too on the nose for me. A letterpress by TW like this is what I have been dreaming of and I may unload my current FS editions. The half leather was an easy pick for me.

Editado: Out 19, 2021, 8:25 pm

Absent the limitation it seems to me that the early bird full goatskin is far more attractive than the calfskin at the respective price points

Out 19, 2021, 8:37 pm

>123 L.Bloom: Seems odd this would be your favorite book L.Bloom! ;)

Out 20, 2021, 3:40 am

I don’t know about all of you but in some small way being a small collector of fine editions and having a limited money well in a undisclosed tropical island, I have been afforded a possibility to buy Letterpress books made by TW at an affordable price. I currently subscribe to their Classic Dispatch which is at 50 USD a great offering (much greater at 30 USD for our fellow Americans). Letterpress printing doesn’t come cheap and this is an opportunity for me to be acquainted with it.

Out 20, 2021, 1:46 pm

>126 ironjaw: I agree about Thornwillow's Classic Dispatch subscription (basically, the letterpress chapbook of the month club). It's absolutely the best value currently being offered in the fine press world.

Out 20, 2021, 8:38 pm

After much back and forth, I decided to change my pledge from the half-cloth to the half-leather. The combination of the teal leather with those beautiful paste paper boards proved too appealing for me, despite my disappointment that the half-leather state uses the same paper as the half-cloth and paper-wrapper states. The box also adds to the appeal.

Out 20, 2021, 8:44 pm

>128 ultrarightist: the struggle is real.

Out 20, 2021, 10:13 pm

>128 ultrarightist: exactly what I thought in this case ;)

Editado: Out 20, 2021, 10:42 pm

My struggles lasted for about 5-minutes-period, after which I decided to pass on this offer. The sense of peacefulness and calm that I experience is unbelievable. :)

Out 21, 2021, 1:12 am

Although a keen supporter of Thornwillow, I am also a parsee (??!) on this offering.

Out 21, 2021, 1:31 am

>132 wcarter: Why is that?

Out 21, 2021, 2:41 am

>132 wcarter:
Simple. I already have the FS Ulysses, struggled through it and disliked the writing style and story. Just not my cup of tea!

Out 21, 2021, 9:29 am

>132 wcarter: But why a "parsee"? Is there a Joycean pun I'm missing?

Editado: Out 21, 2021, 4:24 pm

I initially pledged for the half-cloth, but changed my mind and right now just have the Schema, Print & Broadside.

I may end up just commissioning a nice clamshell to house these with my copy of The Dead and the other Joyce broadsides from that dispatch.

Out 21, 2021, 4:31 pm

Though it's a small chance, I'm hoping we get proofs of the different confirmed papers before the end of the KS campaign. The "Dedalus" may win me over if the blue paper is exceptional and doesn't clash with the colored drop caps. If nothing is shown by the end of the campaign, I'll opt for the half-cloth and a rebind.

My opinion has changed multiple times on how I'd like to commit to this project! To TW's credit, I suppose that means, at least for me, many of the options are attractive.

Out 21, 2021, 4:48 pm

AARNAC, (thanks >107 jveezer:), and if I had the funds and the desire to attempt this book again, I would definitely go for the 10 volume paste paper version. A difficult novel like this would be best attempted in bite-sized chunks, and it looks gorgeous. In fact I’m almost tempted, though it’s a ‘worthy but not worthwhile’ kind of book for me. Would love for someone to change my mind though (>123 L.Bloom: here’s your chance!) but I really can’t see myself biting at this stage…

Out 21, 2021, 4:50 pm

>135 jveezer:
A poor pun - a parsee - someone who passes on ordering a book written using unusual and imaginary words.

Out 21, 2021, 5:14 pm

>138 stopsurfing: "I would definitely go for the 10 volume paste paper version"

Not to mention this is the only version printed on milkweed paper.

We really need those proofs! :)

Out 21, 2021, 5:32 pm

I've never read Ulysses, so I've ordered the 4 volume cloth edition, but I've been recommended to get the Annotated version as a guide. What do you guys think?

Out 21, 2021, 5:51 pm

>141 ironjaw: Depends how you like to read and how your brain works. I read it through by itself the first time, used the wonderful Ulysses Annotated the second time, and now mostly read it stand-alone again except when I'm curious about something and consult the reading aids. That's how my Thornwillow read will be done, probably.

Out 21, 2021, 6:08 pm

>142 jveezer: I last read (and for the first time, finished) Ulysses in various pubs across Dublin, travelling to Joyce Tower, the Forty Foot and the National Library for the relevant chapters, so I'm reluctant to supplant that experience even for this fine edition.

However on the flipside, I know I might want to reread it in a few decades time just for the sake of jogging those memories and know this would be the perfect copy to do so with.

Out 21, 2021, 7:28 pm

>143 NathanOv: Now that's a great reading memory!

Out 22, 2021, 7:39 pm

Has Thornwillow reached the $1M mark yet? I assume the $240k is only adding up the first payments of installments plus full payments, so if you add the commited outstanding payments ones in I would expect they would be close. I don't know if I have it in me to do the math later. But impressive none the less...

Out 22, 2021, 8:32 pm

>145 jveezer: I anticipate the $240K includes installments. There are currently 233 backers; at $240K, that is an average of just over $1K per backer. $1M would be an average of ~$4,300.

Out 22, 2021, 9:37 pm

>146 LBShoreBook: No sir. I did do that math. The total only includes the first installment payment, not the subsequent monthly ones. Also possibly shrewd move to not have to pay the Kickstarter fee.

Out 22, 2021, 11:03 pm

It wouldn’t make sense to pay Kickstarter a cut of the next ten months’ worth of revenue though.

Editado: Out 23, 2021, 2:12 pm

>147 jveezer: Trying to avoid dishes and dropped in a spreadsheet. I count 226 out of the 233 that they are listing (not sure if they are counting a few $10 pledges that don't show up on the counter). Total spend for 226 is $416K, just under $1,850 per backer. The biggest tranche in terms of $ is half leather early bird at $78,450 (33 backers). Biggest tranche in terms of backers is half cloth installments at 52 backers ($45,240). So, not $1M and not $240K. Back to the dishes.

EDIT: I counted the deluxe leather first installment as the entire cost of the book so undercounted the total a bit due to the fact that this level has two backers (I missed there was a $16K edition in this campaign). Updated spreadsheet as of this morning that shows 229 backers from their counter. Total as of now is $447,870 from 229 backers, so $1,955.76 average (basically, $2K per pledge).

11 pledges at $75 or less for no book ($630 total)
130 pledges for installment payments ($257,890 total)
88 pledges for full payment, including the early-birds ($189,350 total)

Pretty much crushing it from a revenue standpoint, would be interesting to learn if this large top line results in a healthy bottom line on this edition.

Out 22, 2021, 11:54 pm

Not a fan of the constant extension of the early bird period and the increasing number of slots. It makes you feel quite rushed into a decision, all for naught.

Out 23, 2021, 9:37 am

Has anyone else seen the comment that they intend to use the 1922 text, and if so does it affect your enthusiasm? I have to say, I think it’s a mistake. It hadn’t even occurred to me that they might use a text other than the Bodley Head.

Out 23, 2021, 9:48 am

>150 _WishIReadMore: Agreed, it's basically fake scarcity. The deadline for early bird is X, but wait, we didn't mean it. There are X copies left, but wait, there are more. It does pressure one into a decision, but pledges can be changed or canceled.

Out 23, 2021, 10:14 am

>151 Didici: I am guessing copyright came in to play on using the 1922 edition.

Out 23, 2021, 11:54 am

>153 LBShoreBook: I’m sure you’re right, and probably someone a bit brighter than me would have realized in advance, haha. Is something to tot up in the con column for people thinking about acquiring the one fine press edition of Ulysses to rule them all, I think.

Out 23, 2021, 11:58 am

>151 Didici: >153 LBShoreBook: Thank you for bringing this to attention. Can someone who's intimately familiar with Ulysses shed light on the magnitude of difference between the Bodley Head text proofed by Joyce and the initial text published by Beach? This work is famous for neologisms and inscrutable streams of consciousness, so I imagine the margin of error for texts not personally approved by Joyce is relatively large.

Out 23, 2021, 12:08 pm

>152 punkzip: I think FOMO more than fake scarcity. They were clear from the beginning that they wanted Ulysses in as many hands as possible in the TW edition you want and that they would adjust the early bird quantities to suit demand. I don't think they have done that in their previous Kickstarters. In those I believe they stuck with the fixed numbers set at the beginning. I don't know because I've always purchased in the tiers that have a stated limitation of "no more than the number subscribed plus x" that don't have early-bird pricing pressure.

In other words, I can, and usually do, wait to order. I still have 25 days to decide between my first half-cloth or go with the cool installment based paper. And yes, I know I can order during the first few days of feeding frenzy and change or delete my pledge but I like to see the dialogue here and from TW before I finalize my decision.

>151 Didici: Well, it is the edition that 2022 is the centennial of...and it's a fine read regardless of the errors introduced by the path Joyce was forced to take by the censors and risk-averse publishers of the day. I have other "corrected" editions and can't remember any gross errors that affect your reading experience. And better a new Thornwillow Press edition than none because of picky Joyce estate intransigence or copyright issues. It's not like having Arwen rescue Frodo at the fords of instead of Glorfindel. Or wait, Glorfindel died in Gondolin. The first being deliberately introduced error for film audiences, the second being accidental by the author in his monumental world-building. (Oops. Sorry, Tolkien nerd coming out). I believe this is more minor things but I'm speaking off the top of my head. For instance, if you want to go to Davey Byrne's to see if Bronze by Gold are working, you might want to double check the street it's on in Yelp instead of relying on the 1922 text.

Out 23, 2021, 12:47 pm

>151_Didici I am not a Joyce scholar, but have asked a friend involved with the Joyce society to clarify. The very earliest and incomplete appearance of the text started with the Little Review. It was literally being released while Joyce was writing it. This version was heavily edited by Ezra Pound to try to keep the censors from banning the publication. Apparently, Joyce and Pound had many arguments about the edits. In the end, Pound's edits didn't work and the Little Review was forced to stop publishing the novel. It is good that Thornwillow is not using the Little Review text (or the parts of it that made it) because this text was heavily edited and not reflective of what Joyce really wanted. The first edition, though, did not have these dramatic problems. That said with subsequent printings and editions, Joyce found things that he wanted to change, so revisions were incorporated. Though purists and Joyce scholars out there might care a lot about these changes, my understanding is that they are not fundamental in concept or intent. They are subtle (though there are quite a few of them). For generalists reading Ulysses, having one version or another will not change the reading experience or the understanding (or lack of understanding) of the book.

What I like about Thornwillow's choice to use the 1922 Sylvia Beach edition of the text (the first edition) is that they are setting out to mark the centennial and bring out the edition as Joyce first intended. Readers of the Thornwillow edition in installments will read basically what Joyce wanted in the beginning (though with better typography, paper and binding). This is not the edition for academics who are looking to do an extra deep dive into Joyce and parse each sentence, comparing one version to another and speculating on the intention of each comma. Rather, this is an edition to engage readers, to draw them into an experience and inspire them. So channeling the first edition makes total sense to me. It's what Joyce intended 100 years ago.

While, there are certainly arguments for using other editions, I think it makes total sense to go with the first edition for this commemorative, centennial edition.

Out 23, 2021, 12:54 pm

>156 jveezer: >157 FvS: Very much appreciate your insight, gents. I also had the feeling that on a conceptual and inspirational level, not much will be lost. I do like taking an academic approach to literature, but this production is too beautiful to walk away from over purely academic motes of interest.

Out 23, 2021, 12:55 pm

>157 FvS: Well put.

There are about a thousand tiny differences between the 1922 edition and the 1960. I don't think any of them are particularly interesting except to Joyce specialists. Since the dawn of time, authors have always wanted to revise their published works, and more often than not their revisions do little to better the text.

The 1922 text is undoubtedly the proper one to use for this edition.

Editado: Out 23, 2021, 2:51 pm

>159 grifgon: Isn't it a bit bold to proclaim an author's own revisions their text to be of little improvement and undoubtedly not the one that should be used?

At the very least I imagine it would be fairer to consider them both products of their time, perhaps similar to Glenn Gould's recordings of the Goldberg Variations? And by referencing this music, I don't intend to convey any sort of musical expertise, it just reminds me a lecture one of the designers at Apple held a few years ago that talked about it, along with another lecture on the design of Central Park.

Out 23, 2021, 4:56 pm

This week's NY Times Book Review celebrates its 125 years of reviews by reprinting a number of reviews of classic and/or popular books For those considering purchasing Ulysses, I thought you might find interesting the reprinted review by Dr. Joseph Collins from May 18, 1922. It can be found online. Below is the first paragraph from that review.

"A few intuitive, sensitive visionaries may understand and comprehend “Ulysses,” James Joyce’s new and mammoth volume, without going through a course of training or instruction, but the average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from it — even from careful perusal, one might properly say study, of it — save bewilderment and a sense of disgust. It should be companioned with a key and a glossary like the Berlitz books. Then the attentive and diligent reader would eventually get some comprehension of Mr. Joyce’s message."

Dr. Collins' name was not familiar to me but a quick Google search identifies him as a NY based neurologist and writer. I must admit, the first time that I tackled Ulysses in college, I wanted to throw it against the wall. However, I took another course that was focused on the works of Joyce that was led by a wonderful professor who acted as an enthusiastic guide for the book. As a result, I came to respect and admire the book if not quite enjoy it. But I'll stick with my single volume.

Out 23, 2021, 5:05 pm

I love older reviews. They are very insightful and to the point and written very well.

Out 23, 2021, 5:09 pm

>161 Redshirt: The difference is that nowadays we have many resources which can help us read and understand the book, while Dr. Collins likely had none besides his own erudition.

Out 23, 2021, 5:19 pm

I seem to remember what prompted my first foray into Ulysses were the lectures I saw on TV by the amazing Joseph Campbell, who was a big fan of Joyce, and wrote A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. I don't know if those lectures are on youTube or available somewhere but they are delightful. Well worth hunting down.

Unfortunately, I wrote my notes from the lectures in the margins of my first copy of the book I owned. I believe it was the Modern Library edition. I unwisely loaned it out and never got back.

Out 23, 2021, 5:25 pm

>160 _WishIReadMore: I don't think it's bold; literary critics and editors must regularly decide whether to accept or reject authors' own revisions. As a general editorial principle, I believe that once a text is published with an author's consent, it is a publisher's prerogative to discern among published texts.

I meant that the 1922 text is undoubtedly the correct choice for this edition, as it is a centennial edition. Many may prefer the 1960 text in general, and more power to them!

Out 23, 2021, 6:48 pm

>165 grifgon: Maybe they’ll publish another centennial edition in 40 years!

Out 23, 2021, 6:50 pm

>166 _WishIReadMore: Hahahahahahahaha, the only thing better than 10 volumes of Ulysses is 20!

Out 23, 2021, 9:42 pm

>161 Redshirt: Thank you for posting this. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Collins' article.

Out 24, 2021, 9:21 pm

It looks like is almost certain that Folio will be reprinting Ulysses next year. On the FB page someone posted an answer to an email inquiry - FS is definitely doing something for the centennial but of course won’t say exactly what.

Out 25, 2021, 9:25 am

>169 punkzip: I think it’s good they are being open about at least something in the works, because it might give pause to some people considering this edition, including myself.

Out 25, 2021, 12:12 pm

>169 punkzip: I think they'll be two completely different things for two audiences. I like folio but they are not in the same league as Thornwillow, especially as of late. If people want a more affordable version or are not overly keen on Joyce than Folio is the way to go but I would be shocked if it was anywhere near Thornwillow in terms of quality and production.

Out 25, 2021, 3:04 pm

>169 punkzip: punkzip
>17_1Joshbooks1 Exactly. Totally agree.

Folio is a good thing. They make nice books that are sometimes editorially interesting. They have better than average type design and bindings, but they are basically spruced up trade editions. They are better than a paperback. and sometimes better than a normal hardcover you might get at Barnes and Noble. But they are not fine press editions. It is an apples and oranges thing. It makes absolutely no sense to me to be choosing between a FS edition and a Thornwillow edition of the same title. Buy the FS edition if you want a nice reading copy. Buy the Thornwillow edition if you particularly care about the title and are interested in the book arts.

There are times that a Budweiser beer might be satisfying— on a hot day at a cookout for example. But don't say you are waiting to decide between a Bud and Veuve Clicquot. They are both bubbly drinks that are best consumed cold, but the comparison stops there.

Editado: Out 25, 2021, 3:33 pm

>172 FvS: I did not imply that any FS Society edition would be comparable to what TW is doing. I posted the information because the FS version was brought up earlier in this thread. I've backed the TW Ulysses myself at the half-leather level. But this is because I've read Ulysses before and know exactly what I'm getting into if I reread it, and also have the budget for it. Consider someone who wants something better than a trade edition, but doesn't have $860 in their budget which is the minimum cost of the TW. Consider someone who has never read Ulysses before, and is uncertain whether they will even enjoy it or be able to finish it - $860 might be a lot to find out. Consider that some find the $860 half cloth unattractive (which is why I backed the half-leather), and the other options are paper bindings or a big jump in cost. So I do think the FS Ulysses could be a viable option for many people and it does compete with the TW version in many ways.

Out 25, 2021, 3:25 pm

>172 FvS: I like the drinks analogy. I wonder if this makes LEC, "Miller High Life" AKA the Champagne of Beers. Affordable letterpress. Sounds like an oxymoron these days.

Out 25, 2021, 3:45 pm

>172 FvS: I am an example of someone choosing between FS and TW so at least one person is out there. Love what TW is doing and love this edition - the half leather is gorgeous. I've also never read Ulysses and the Joyce that I've read to date (Portrait of an Artist, Dubliners) I would put in the like, not love, category. From what I can gather, Ulysses is quite different from these and reading 10-15 pages to get an idea of the book it appears this reputation is warranted. If I am going to take a punt on a nice edition of the book I am evaluating $2K+ for TW or $200+ for FS. I can afford both, the question is which one makes sense for a book I may like (maybe love?) but maybe not. Does not seem like that big of a stretch to me in terms of evaluating both. That does not mean they are the same category in terms of quality as the price reflects.

Out 25, 2021, 3:50 pm

>172 FvS: Valid points, and I agree with your overall argument, but I think you are being unfair to FS. FS is not sometimes better than a normal hardcover you might get at Barnes and Noble; FS is almost always significantly better than that, with very few exceptions.

Out 25, 2021, 3:53 pm

>172 FvS: I’m scratching my head at this because I think of Folios as “pretty looking” books that are nice on a shelf but don’t have much to them beyond the few with really special artwork.

Meanwhile, Thornwillow’s are made to be read, with much more focus on the inside of the book than the outside and huge attention to printing, typography and layout in edition to their bindings.

Editado: Out 25, 2021, 4:09 pm

>175 LBShoreBook: Let me suggest you read Ulysses through chapter 3. Chapter 3 - where Stephen walks the beach on Sandymount Strand - is a notoriously hard chapter. The first time I hit this chapter I quit. Later on I joined a reading group which motivated me to get through this chapter and finish the book. This might help you figure out how much you want to spend on the book. It's helpful to read Portrait and Dubliners beforehand primarily for more background, but Ulysses is nothing like either of those books.

Out 25, 2021, 4:04 pm

>177 NathanOv: This is a fair critique of the FS of recent years. There are a few exceptions (Fragments of Sappho comes to mind) but they are aware of this and attach a price tag to match. Sewn bindings and high quality paper also set them apart from most trade publishers.

Editado: Out 25, 2021, 4:06 pm

>177 NathanOv: If that's the case why is the font size on my TW Poe so small it is an eyestrain to read?

Out 25, 2021, 4:29 pm

>180 punkzip: Indeed. The typography is cramped. While I very much like the edition overall, the typography does not lend itself to a luxurious reading experience.

Out 25, 2021, 4:39 pm

>178 punkzip: Thanks. I am unlikely to get through Chapter 3 by the end of the Kickstarter campaign (currently working through Churchill's 2v edition of The River War) but that sounds like a reasonable approach. I am likely to default to FS due to the preceding sentence. If it turns out I love it, I think I can live with missing out on the TW edition, there will be other "must have" editions of great books soon enough. :)

Out 25, 2021, 5:00 pm

I am not saying that FS is bad. I love FS. I have many FS books. They are great. But they fall for me into a completely different category. That's all. I also like beer (though can't say I really like Bud).

And I agree that there are many books that I would be happy to own in a FS edition that I wouldn't want to pony up for in a fine press edition. That said, I would take a Thornwillow edition in paper wrappers over a FS in cloth any day. (don't jump on me... i know that the Ulysses in paper doesn't apply here because it would be 10x. I'm comparing single volume to single volume).

>180_punkzip I agree. The font size on Poe is small, but I'm sure it was a very conscious design decision on their part. I think it's elegant and still very readable. But I now have reading glasses which makes everything easier than it was, including opening champagne bottles.

Out 25, 2021, 5:09 pm

>180 punkzip: Ha, good question! I noticed the smaller font size on Poe, but it's still larger than a trade paperback. I assume it was to keep page count down since they'd already broken 300 with that one.

Out 25, 2021, 5:15 pm

>183 FvS: Fair point and if there was a TW Ulysses in paper wrappers at anywhere close to the FS edition I would make the same choice. As it is, I think the regular paper wrappers are really, really boring, which leaves me with the $1,450 deluxe paper wrappers, which are beautiful IMO. Oh and $1,450 for a book I've yet to read. Sigh.

Out 25, 2021, 6:42 pm

>175 LBShoreBook: There’s at least two of us out there. I am currently subscribed for a 4-volume version, but I’m also intrigued by what the FS version has planned. And I definitely won’t acquire both.

Editado: Out 25, 2021, 6:45 pm

>186 _WishIReadMore: I’m guessing a SE reprint is by far the most likely. new LE is possible I suppose but very unlikely I think

Editado: Out 26, 2021, 7:37 am

>184 NathanOv: I know that wide margins are typical in fine press publications, but another option would have been to increase font size and use narrower margins. This would have been better for the reader IMO, if the goal is to have the best reading experience. Or if page count is an issue, cut a few stories (it's not like Poe cannot be found elsewhere) or increase the cost a little. So IMO while Poe is a decent publication overall, the font size is a fail - I have a paper wrapper so it doesn't matter much to me but would have been pretty unhappy if I had bought one of the leather volumes.

Editado: Out 26, 2021, 7:42 am

>185 LBShoreBook: It's unfortunate that both the lowest cost options - half cloth and regular paper wrappers, use the same boring letterpress pattern. This is compounded by the multiple volumes - I could live with 1 boring binding if everything else is good, but not 4 or 10 identical boring bindings.

Out 26, 2021, 10:11 am

>188 punkzip: Hm - I think it’s very likely that they simply did not consider the font size and issue (and looking at Death On The Nile) it appears to be the same.

It’s not my favorite Poe collection just by nature of the stories and essays they chose, but I love the illustrations in this one - probably the most heavily illustrated Thornwillow edition in recent years.

Out 27, 2021, 8:17 am

>188_punkzip I agree that the type is a bit small, but I love the page proportion and the really attractive margins. I think the Poe is one of my favorite of their books. The half leather binding is really special. People often say that their cloth editions are the best, but I've got to say the half leather for me are regularly really great design wise. Also price wise. The Kickstarter prices even after the early bird offers are over, is a really great value. Half leather, with handmade paste paper boards, hand sewn headbands, gilt edges and a clamshell box for under $1000, this is really really well priced for the amount of work that goes into it. And it seems the half leather and full leathers appreciate more meaningfully. The limitations are usually under 100 for HL. So the potential for them to go up in value is really strong. Not that anyone should be doing this for investment alone ;)

Out 27, 2021, 8:34 am

>190_NathanOv I love the illustrations. I didn't expect to. The tattoo artist concept put me off a bit during the campaign. But it is certainly appropriate. Their Black Cat with artwork from the same person is really great too. Again, I love this edition. I also really like the Fritz Eichenberg illustrated edition of Tales. But the type and paper quality is terrible. I think it was produced during WWII and there may have been paper availability issues. It is not a fine press book. It's an old school trade book a bit like FS. The edition size is huge, so anyone can easily get a copy very reasonably. The wood engraving illustrations are terrific. Still I prefer Thornwillow's Poe for the complete package, as an object where the whole book is a work of art.

Out 27, 2021, 8:42 am

>189_punkzip I totally disagree. I think the pattern is really interesting. It's an elegant, classical design. It is a James Joyce monogram presented in a really well designed repeat pattern. It plays on the color of the first edition without being a straight out redux of the original wrapper. And it makes for a really nice set. The 10 paper wrappers on the shelf together with the same pattern make for a nice cohesive presentation. I really like it and definitely don't think its boring. THAT SAID, I went for the paste paper installment edition and first tier full leather (though I'm very tempted to go with the the speckled calf. Still time to switch before the campaign ends).

Out 28, 2021, 2:29 pm

8 hours left for early birds. I assume since it has slowed down that this might actually be the end of the early bird offers but who knows? They are about $15k away from their first stretch goal and in the quiet squishy middle of Kickstarter campaigns. I'm sure there will be a little surge at the end when mullers like me finally pull the trigger. Still mulling over paper vs. cloth...

Out 28, 2021, 2:48 pm

>194 jveezer: What is the early-bird offer? The half leather and full leather early-bird pricing lapsed on (I believe) Monday; did they throw in something else to entice? If so, I missed it ....

Out 28, 2021, 2:55 pm

>194 jveezer: Oops. The engineer in me hates to be caught by poor quality control in technology. Apparently the $$ counter auto-refreshes but the reward quantities don't? That's poor coding. Yes, it looks like the early birds have flown...

Out 28, 2021, 10:58 pm

I've cancelled my pledge. Will see what the FS has in store.

Out 28, 2021, 11:22 pm

>197 _WishIReadMore: As noted above (probably too many times) I waffled as well. Just pulled the trigger on this beauty thanks to another thread and that pretty much resolves my TW dilemma as well. I will be looking forward to TW's next offering and looking to FS for what they have planned for Ulysses.

Editado: Out 29, 2021, 10:24 am

>198 LBShoreBook: Congrats, and I think you got a bit of a bargain as well!

The new pictures are truly stunning, and while I don't often hold on to poetry volumes for long, I've been long overdue to sample Barbarian's work.

Out 30, 2021, 11:46 pm

Has anyone else noticed that the bindings pictured in the kickstarter photos look sloppy? The bands on the four volumes aren't aligned with each other.

Out 30, 2021, 11:58 pm

>200 ChampagneSVP: Part of Thornwillow's "charm". Seriously, their half leather bindings are frequently a little "off". I was hoping that with time/experience this situation would improve and to be fair, my last TP book The Parable of the Sower, was fairly well made but it's unlikely their technique will ever come up to that of a top level binder. Not surprising since were not paying those prices either.

Editado: Out 31, 2021, 12:33 am

>200 ChampagneSVP: >201 kdweber: I’d chalk this one up to a bad rendering, since I think volumes 1-2 are the same book in that image. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d “decided” to to make them all exactly aligned.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with my half leather deluxe parable of the sower because, in the best way I can describe it, the entire page block is slanted as if it were sagging from the binding and the pages are not cut straight among a few other minor annoyances so I’ll probably be sticking to their lower tiers after that one.

Editado: Out 31, 2021, 1:37 am

>200 ChampagneSVP: The photos on Kickstarter are always of prototypes, which typically have less attention paid to them than the actual published books. I think everybody would get a good laugh at some of the stopgap measures that go into putting together, photographing, and photoshopping fine press prototypes.

>202 NathanOv: This "sagging" is due to imprecise casing, which is literally the final step in bookbinding. It's brutal when this goes poorly. It's also something that any bookbinder will be able to fix in about ten minutes, by simply excising the page block from the cover, reapplying endpapers, and casing again. I imagine Thornwillow would be willing to fix it for you if you reached out.

Out 31, 2021, 8:04 am

>202 NathanOv: If they were renders, wouldn’t it make it easier to make them more uniform?

I think these are just prototypes with the correct paper and page number, bound to show what they’d look like. If you’re Suntup, you can also sell these blank books for thousands of dollars.

>203 grifgon: If this is the result of an intensive amount of effort in putting things together, photographing and photoshopping, it’s potentially even more worrying, no?

Out 31, 2021, 10:04 am

>201 kdweber: "Not surprising since were not paying those prices either."

I disagree. Sure, these prices are less than a one-off special order executed by a skilled bookbinder, but are consistent with a fine issue. There are economies of scale on several dimensions.

Irregularity might be part of the design (just as a very heavy impression is a "flaw" objectively which has come to be valued in some quarters due to indication of production process), but at this cost the customer should expect the designer's intent to be realized.

Out 31, 2021, 10:45 am


It’s sad. This photo is of a prototype. I pointed this out to them at the beginning of the campaign and they said that the gold stamped label was a little off but they preferred to show a real gold stamped label than photoshop it. Now having it up there is clearly giving folks the wrong impression of their work. Unfortunate.

I have a number of their half leather and full leather bindings and they are wonderful. They are not 100% uniform. But shouldn’t be. The leather sometimes has some small spots because they are using top quality skins from one of the oldest and best leather purveyors in England. (Harmatan). Each skin is hugely expensive. They have hand sewn headbands instead of machine sewn bands. This is dramatically more time consuming. They are irregular. That’s the point.

The one time I had a problem, which actually was with a stain on one of the pages, they immediately replaced it. I have found them to be 100% committed to their work and it bothers me when people suggest otherwise. This is not a company that is trying to pull a fast one on us. This is not a slapdash operation that doesn’t understand quality. They are real craftspeople who are working every day at honing their skills. They should be encouraged not picked at. Really. Who else is doing this at this scale? Who else has brought all of these trades together at one place and teaches and preserves these art forms? Support them at whatever level you can. Don’t throw rocks at their wheels.

Out 31, 2021, 11:02 am

>206 FvS: I wasn't aware that they source leather from Harmatan. They are indeed amongst the best.

Out 31, 2021, 11:10 am

>203 grifgon: I had thought so as well! Unfortunately, Luke insisted the “slights differences” between each copy are just part of their process and only offered a return.

Out 31, 2021, 11:15 am

>206 FvS: Can you specify who exactly you think is “picking” at the company and proverbially throwing rocks at their wheels?

Out 31, 2021, 11:38 am

>202 NathanOv: NathanOv

I think there is some real misunderstanding about the bookbinding craft on this forum. I collect fine press books and also antiquarian books. I think I have a respectable personal collection and have also over the years been in direct contact with fine press books through dealers and at fairs and in institutional collections the world over. I really would like to know what you folks are comparing to when you say that Thornwillow’s bindings are sub par. Are you comparing to Easton Press or the Folio Society which are machine made, mass production books, or to John Baskerville, William Morris, Bruce Rogers, or even Aldus Manutius?

Thornwillow’s bindings are better than John Baskerville’s. I have about 10 different titles. Thornwillow’s are more accurate and precise than all of them. Thornwillow’s vellum bindings are as good or better than Doves or Kelmscott’s. Truly. Dove’s pasted the end sheets down which often leads to wrinkles. Thornwillow’s don’t. Consider Bruce Roger’s Odyssey. In my opinion one of the most beautifully printed books of all time. Perfection. The black leather binding though doesn’t hold a candle to Thornwillow (both poorly made and with subpar leather), yet it is on many people’s top 10 most beautiful books of all time. If you compare to antiquarian bindings, these bindings show the same irregularities you see in Thornwillow’s work.

Are you comparing to Arion? Their Moby Dick is beautifully printed but the binding is a disaster. Their cloth bindings are run of the mill. Are you comparing to Suntup? Their bindings are for the most part not hand made at all. And my understanding is that they outsource all of their work. They are not making true handmade bindings.

I challenge you to show handmade edition bindings that are better. So, please… what are you comparing to?????

Out 31, 2021, 11:43 am

>206 FvS: I concur about the quality based on my personal experience. I have the half leather state of The Waste Land, and the execution is excellent.

That said, I would push back against this idea that customers have some duty to overlook mistakes, compromises, or even aesthetic disagreements, in order to support the art form.

In my opinion, the expectation of encouragement over everything else disrespects the agency and responsibility of the craftsman. Thoughtful support of the arts involves critique.

Sometimes tone is difficult to gauge on social media, and there is always a risk of tribalism, axe-grinding, flame wars, and so forth, but the folks at Thornwillow are adults and dealing with these challenges effectively is part of the job.

Out 31, 2021, 11:49 am

>209 _WishIReadMore:

The thread that started here


I just worry when people poke at an enterprise like this that is doing such good work to perpetuate crafts we all care about. And suddenly others read these criticisms and pull their support, when really they need more support, not less.

Out 31, 2021, 12:12 pm

The earlier discussion in (post #22 onwards) is relevant and may be interesting to the participants in this thread.

Out 31, 2021, 12:13 pm

>212 FvS: I think you are being way too sensitive about this. Observations about the craft are not verboten, and you’re really personalizing this discussion in a way that I doubt even Thornwillow itself would. You’re not being helpful by discouraging this discussion; in fact, quite the opposite.

Out 31, 2021, 12:18 pm

>210 FvS: I think the recent insistence I’ve seen from several different publishers come up on this board that obvious mistakes or issues in a binding are “part of the process” is probably bad for fine press binders in general.

Yes, some deviance from the “model” copy is fine and to be expected. But there’s definitely still a line between hand-made “charm” and a issue that should just not be present at all.

Thornwillow has great designs, materials and printing, but then my understanding of their binding process is that it’s done in bulk by a large number of craftspeople.

That’s where I think the issues come into play since the binding itself isn’t treated as carefully as books from individual binders like Richard Tong, Lawrence Van Velzer, Mark McMurray and others.

Arion’s general feel to me like the could’ve been “machine-bound” - just withfine materials.

Out 31, 2021, 12:23 pm

>210 FvS: The only Thornwillow vellum I have is Genesis which was indeed well done. Who do I compare them with? All my Mardersteig books look great. The LEC - they may have chosen materials that haven't held up well but the Macy and Shiff bindings were well made. The hubbed leather half binding isn't all that common anymore but I have many older books bound in this style and they are all very regular. I've never gotten a hubbed leather book from any other publisher where the hubs weren't parallel. Yes, Thornwillow will take the book back and refund your money but I'd prefer better quality control and not shipping out books with obvious defects.

I don't feel that what I said in my post >201 kdweber: was picking on the press. I dutifully pointed out that they are not a bespoke bindery. I do support this press. Besides ordering a half leather Ulysses I own 11 titles from them most in half leather with the Song of Solomon still on order.

>211 abysswalker: "That said, I would push back against this idea that customers have some duty to overlook mistakes, compromises, or even aesthetic disagreements, in order to support the art form."

Thank you, I strongly agree!

Out 31, 2021, 12:23 pm

>212 FvS: My intention was, of course, not to criticize unfairly or induce anyone to pull their support. I'm very aware of the imperfections and inconsistencies that are inherently part of the process and I appreciate these hallmarks of a handmade product. That said, I still think the set looks sloppy in the photo that I reposted (the photo that Thornwillow chose to publish as part of its advertisement). There is a difference between an imperfection in leather when a quality skin is used and apparent lack of human attention to detail. I doubt that the irregularity I commented about was an intended design.

Out 31, 2021, 12:25 pm

>210 FvS: How is the binding of AP Moby Dick a disaster?

Out 31, 2021, 12:56 pm

>214 _WishIReadMore: I’m very sorry. I truly do not mean to personalize or inhibit discussion in any way. I am solely motivated by wanting to point out what is really amazing about Thornwillow and make sure this is not brushed under the carpet and to put their work in historical context.

I think they have issues like all small businesses that they are acutely aware of. That said I have never found them to be anything but forthright and genuine in wanting to have happy collectors who are excited to go on the journey with them.

Out 31, 2021, 6:28 pm

>217 ChampagneSVP:

I’ve taken to heart 214_WishIReadMore’s comment about my remarks being too personal and discouraging of discussion. I apologize. That was not my intention. And it is certainly not verboten to talk about the craft and point out issues or concerns. And to have likes and dislikes. I was reacting to what started to look like a pile on of criticism following the post. You are certainly right. The label is not aligned in the photo. That said, I have never gotten a leather binding on a real book from Thornwillow with a crooked label. I’m not saying that it’s never happened. But I don’t believe that they would brush that off as a light thing. I think they would stand by their work if someone got a less than perfect book.

I also FULLY agree with >211 abysswalker: abysswalker: "That said, I would push back against this idea that customers have some duty to overlook mistakes, compromises, or even aesthetic disagreements, in order to support the art form."

But I don’t think that Thornwillow is asking us to accept anything second rate. I think they strive everyday to deliver something wonderful. And I don’t want readers to be left with the impression that they are delivering second quality work and brushing off criticism. If you get an imperfect book, tell them. I’m sure they will address the issue fairly.

I do think there is potentially some room for discussion about binding standards and expectations… and if I may, some room for education. Some historical context, I think, is relevant. And with it, some absolutely debatable personal opinion …

It is, for me, better to have a slightly uneven hand sewn headband, than a perfect glued in headband that is machine made. I am not aware of any other fine press that puts hand sewn headbands on their edition bindings.

I would rather have a slightly uneven dotted line on a raised band, or a slightly crooked label that is tooled by hand than a stamped spine. Rather than a large plate stamping the whole spine or cover at once, I would prefer a cover that is built up detail by detail by hand. Look at the tooled leather bindings of the 17th and 18th Century. Look at the amazing French bindings on exhibit at the Morgan. They are among the most beautiful bindings ever made… really precise, but not everything lines up. Thornwillow’s leather bindings are closer to these than to Suntup or Arion or LEC. And I don’t think anyone is saying that these French binders, or William Morris, or John Baskerville were trying to pass off the unevenness as a flaw that people should resign themselves to because it’s craftsy… to support the craft you have to put up with compromises in quality. This unevenness is inherent in the craft itself.

I guess that’s my bottom line point. I don’t think Thornwillow is remotely asking us to accept second quality work. I don’t think they are asking for a “pass”. I think that the processes that they choose to use have irregularities that are inherent in the crafts, even when practiced by Marie Antoinette’s binders.

I think it is important to know what we are comparing their work to when we criticize it. I think that they are open to hear criticism about their work because they want to improve. They, like every artist, every musician, actor, painter and cabinet maker have goals to aspire to. Something to drive towards. To improve. To refine. They are committed to their craft and to perpetuating their craft for the future. They are not perfect. But no artist or crafts person is. You can only aspire to perfection. You can never attain it.

I think it is wrong to compare their work to FS or LEC or Suntup. It’s a very different production line. LEC back in the day made 1500 books a month. All the work was outsourced. FS makes tens of thousands of books per year. I’ve lost track of how many titles Suntup is planning for next year. The processes are not the same.

I am looking to promote positive supportive energy for Thornwillow and ANY fine press publisher who is marching down this path and promoting the book arts. They all deserve our support. And criticism when warranted but with the goal of helping them to succeed.

Nov 1, 2021, 12:02 am

>220 FvS: Very well said. I appreciate your depth of knowledge and perspective on this. Thank you.

Nov 1, 2021, 1:14 am

I think it is also a question of scale and the type of press that Thornwillow is. With the set numbers of books to be printed above and beyond subscriptions, it looks like they are at about at a total limitation of 1000 on Ulysses with 17 days to go in the Kickstarter. For comparison: Arion's latest book is in an edition of 190, Barbarian Press' latest is and edition of 125, Mad Parrot's 75, Salvage Press' is 80, and Hand & Eye's is 221 just to name a few whose printing and bindings usually draw accolades.

Can Thornwillow match Alanna Simenson's binding work for Barbarian Press or Jan Elsted's masterful printing when their edition is an order of magnitude bigger? I suspect Thornwillow needs a bigger team that like most bigger operations is likely in flux with some established craftspeople and those in training and coming up in skill and with attrition. So some variation is to be expected but hopefully up to a quality standard that allows them to have a viable business at their price point and volume. I seem to remember I read a comment by Thornwillow somewhere that running a press is different from modern businesses: you don't just advertise for a printer to run your Heidlebergs and get deluged by applicants, like you would if your were hiring an accountant. You probably get no qualified applicants. You probably end up training people with little or no experience but hopefully the aptitude and the desire to excel at it. Probably likewise for binders.

I only have experience with their paper-wrapped editions and am quite satisfied for the price. Ulysses may be the first half cloth edition I get simply because it is the most affordable. And since I have been wanting to compare their other states to the paper-wrapped state so that's a plus for me, even though I kinda dig the concept of the installment edition.

Nov 1, 2021, 1:29 am

>220 FvS: >222 jveezer: Hear, hear!

The quality Thornwillow achieves is remarkable given that

1. Their books are routinely offered at a lower price point than direct competitors

2. They have larger (sometimes much larger) edition sizes

3. They publish with greater frequency than just about anybody (two major releases in 2021 plus a minor release every month)

4. They are essentially a social enterprise operating out of a economically collapsed town where literally every employee must be trained from zero experience

Editado: Nov 1, 2021, 10:40 am

>223 grifgon: So what are Thornwillow's direct competitors? If we are talking about offering longer letterpress works - novels as opposed to the typical poems and short stories, Arion of course is the first that comes to mind, and they definitely beat Arion (at the subscriber level) on price (although not craftsmanship). Suntup offers letterpress novels which are competitive in price and value with TW (and probably better in value after the TW KS prices), but they are primarily a genre publisher. I'd suggest though that if you consider UK presses like Lyra's (especially) and Hand and Eye, these presses offer longer letterpress works at competitive or better prices than TW with higher levels of craftsmanship. These comparisons would be for the half-leather and leather states. On the other hand, if we look at the paper wrapper and half-cloth TW states I think that TW easily has the market cornered on value here (as I understand it, they actually lose money on these states).

Nov 2, 2021, 2:43 pm

>224 punkzip: I am not familiar with Lyra and Hand and Eye. Will check them out. That said, I would point out that Thornwillow publishes many full length books like Pride and Prejudice, Song of Solomon, Parable of the Sower, Death on the Nile, and The Great Gatsby to name a few. Their Genesis is particularly great. Four colors printed letterpress, lettra paper (mine has a beautifully made vellum binding. The half leather which I don’t own but have seen is terrific. The quality is excellent. Really impressive by all standards past and present. I think their quality is superior to Arion. I am not a fan of the Arion bindings.

The UK press I know and have a few books from is Whittington. Their printing and typography is spectacular. I love their Matrix Review series. Highly recommend it to anyone who is unfamiliar.

Nov 2, 2021, 2:58 pm

For those of you who backed the half-cloth or are considering backing the half-cloth, Luke just posted today that he is "cautiously optimistic" that he will be able to offer the solander boxes which come with the half-leather up as an add on. I'd be curious what these will cost if offered...

Editado: Nov 2, 2021, 3:04 pm

>225 FvS: I'm surprised you think that TW has superior quality to Arion. I'm not an Arion subscriber but have purchased some on the secondary market. It wouldn't make a lot of sense that TW would have superior quality to Arion as I'm guessing the average experience level of Arion printers and binders is higher than TWs, maybe substantially so. Of course, you pay a lot more, too much IMO, with Arion - although secondary market prices can be fairly good.

Nov 2, 2021, 3:05 pm

I don’t know that Thornwillow really has direct competitors. They do all the production themselves in house. They don’t farm it out like so many presses do. They have an extensive training program and the Thornwillow Institute. They are unique.

Arion perhaps comes closest. They have the Grabhorn Institute.

The press that repeatedly blows me away is Tallone. They only do paper wrapper bindings in chemise slip cases. But they are fabulous in every way.

Go back in time and consider Nonesuch. That’s a good comparison for Thornwillow. Also look at the work of Bruce Rogers particularly at Colish or Riverside Press.

Nov 2, 2021, 3:56 pm

>227 punkzip: honestly, I think the Arion bindings are run of the mill. Clunky and overpriced. The printing is really good, but not better than Thornwillow’s current work. (Compare Arion to Thornwillow’s Gatsby… that’s a good comp).

Thornwillow has had several chapters: Pre-Prague when he printed some of the books himself when he was still in college and sometimes outsourced to other presses like Stinehour or Michael Bixler all amazing books. Then the Prague chapter. Beautiful books many on handmade paper they made themselves. Then the Newburgh chapter, the last 12 or so years. They had some ups and downs when they relocated. Some of the quality issues people refer to I think stem from this and their needing to find skilled people, train people, and evolve. (I love the quirky design of Frankenstein, but it is not the best printed. Their Waste Land is excellent. Especially paste paper and the Half Leather.)

When things fell apart for them in the Czech Republic (I don’t know the details, but I understand it was very bad) apparently they were told they could never make it work in America. I think it has been a struggle. But they are pulling it off. Their printing is now excellent. Their bindings are terrific (some better executed than others, but all ambitious and worthwhile. Often with beautiful handmade paste paper they make themselves). It can’t be easy and they are doing important work. I applaud their saying ”yes, it can be done in America” and their courage to believe that enough people will care to support their efforts. That’s why I keep plugging their work. I think they need the support. Everyone should subscribe to their monthly Dispatch. It’s the best bargain around. A gateway to fine printing. An excellent holiday gift.

Nov 2, 2021, 6:15 pm

>229 FvS: "I think the Arion bindings are run of the mill. Clunky and overpriced."

Clunky isn't the word I would use, but I can sort of understand the association. That said, I think "clunky" might be misleading to someone who is unfamiliar with the books.

Arion bindings are aggressively understated. Like an upper east side New York art gallery. The designs don't all work for me, but for the examples I have seen, the craftsmanship has always been superb. There are a few that seem like total misses in terms of design (Godot comes to mind, and most of the editions with landscape page layouts; who likes those?). And a few of the more experimental bindings, like the portfolios of loose sheets or the cookbook binder for Invisible Cities (these are more like objet d'art and I wouldn't even compare them to traditional books; I also don't buy them).

But when they get it right, the precision sings (Paradise Lost is flawless in every regard, both as a book that stands alone and as an homage to the Baskerville edition).

The Thornwillow bindings I've handled don't have anywhere near the precision of even the plainer Arion bindings, even the half-leather. To be fair, I have never seen in person any of the more exclusive full leather or presentation bindings that Thornwillow has put out. And also to be fair, I think the goal is different.

Nov 2, 2021, 7:10 pm

>230 abysswalker: You cited the example that also came to my mind for AP. The binding on Paradise Lost is superlative. "Run of the mill" is throwing stones at AP's wheels. We've come full circle in this thread.

Nov 2, 2021, 7:44 pm

>230 abysswalker: and >231 LBShoreBook: I agree, and also think the binding on Paradise Lost is superlative.

Nov 2, 2021, 9:22 pm

>230 abysswalker: As a Arion subscriber and owner of most Newburgh-era Thornwillow’s, I couldn’t agree more. The precision in the craftsmanship really is different, though I think Thornwillow is improving their game (my limp-vellum Genesis is gorgeous). I also think there is a creativity in Arion that isn’t present in Thornwillow books. Thornwillow edition tend to follow a certain pattern—half cloth with wallpaper-like letterpress boards, half leather with banded spines and paste-paper boards, full leather with jewel inserts. Most roughly the same size and all higher levels in the same black solander boxes. It’s my feeling that each Arion edition is truly unique in its construction and presentation (sometimes frustratingly so…). I don’t discount Thornwillow, love what they do and their social mission, but don’t (yet) feel they have surpassed Arion in terms of craftsmanship and quality.

Nov 2, 2021, 11:46 pm

The quality of Thornwillow's bindings (specifically, the workmanship, not the materials) needs to catch up with the quality of their printing, which is laudable. Thornwillow seems to have a systemic issue with their cloth bindings in particular, where the spine is not evenly rounded and displays a thin ridge down the length, which is sometimes off-center. I believe others have noted this as well. Thornwillow really needs to resolve that problem.

Nov 2, 2021, 11:51 pm

>234 ultrarightist: "the spine is not evenly rounded and displays a thin ridge down the length" This defect is present in most of their half leather bindings as well.

Nov 3, 2021, 12:19 am

>235 kdweber: Interesting. I've never seen that type of defect on a book from any other fine/private press, ever.

Editado: Nov 3, 2021, 2:11 am

>235 kdweber: >236 ultrarightist: I can’t say any of my 12 TW volumes exhibit this defect. Granted, mine are mostly half-leather with a few full leathers in the mix.

Editado: Nov 3, 2021, 10:50 am

>237 const-char-star: Three or four of my seven 1/2 leather TWs have this problem. Interestingly, my only 1/2 cloth volume does not. I consider it only a minor issue. My most recent arrival, The Parable of the Sower, has no defects.

Nov 3, 2021, 11:04 am

>235 kdweber: Yes! Same here! All 5 half-cloths I’ve had in my possession exhibit this issue.

I haven’t noticed it on a half-leather, though already noted my other issues with Parable

Editado: Nov 3, 2021, 1:08 pm

>235 kdweber: >236 ultrarightist:

I think it goes without saying that Thornwillow should work to improve and that uneven rounding and spine creases aren't good.

That said! The reason for these occasional defects is important to note and, in my opinion, speaks as much to Thornwillow's ambition as to its faults.

"the spine is not evenly rounded"

These days, spines are almost always rounded by a machine, including with fine press books. The machines aren't expensive, so most commercial binderies have them, and even some boutique or fine binderies. (Here's a video of a higher end one: They are always used for trade books, and many fine press books will use them (when rounding is needed) because they're readily available and precise. It's like how "gold-tooling" in fine press these days mostly means "gold stamping," which can be done on a $100 machine you can get off Amazon. In other words, machine spine rounding is cheap, works great, and is widely accessible. And yet! Thornwillow still rounds its spines using the traditional technique of hand-hammering. Why? To keep the craft alive!

It also bears asking, "Why round the spine at all?" It isn't just an aesthetic difference, but a structural one. The binding on a large book will hold up better over time with a rounded spine.

Do Thornwillow's binders always hammer perfectly? Definitely not. Would collectors prefer that they switch their methods to an inexpensive machine which will achieve a perfect rounding every time? I don't know — but I applaud Luke & Co. for sticking with the traditional method, knowing that a machine would be so much easier and 99.9% of collectors wouldn't ask questions.

"a thin ridge down the length"

This one is really interesting, and of my 60+ Thornwillow books, it is displayed on one or two. Again, we'd hope that it wouldn't be there, but its root cause is actually a good thing.

Unlike 100% of trade books and (I'd venture to say) 90% of fine press books, Thornwillow adds an accordion reinforcement to their spines in the binding process. This is basically multichambered sheet of archival stock, which is affixed between the cloth backing and the super (the linen mesh which secures the text block to the boards). For most presses, super is enough. But Thornwillow adds the accordion reinforcement because it goes a long way toward ensuring archival quality. The super is reinforced AND the accordion chamber ensures that the entire backing has flexibility for changing humidities. In other words, it isn't susceptible to warp.

The crease you occasionally see on Thornwillow spines is due to the cloth backing being pressed too firmly into the accordion reinforcement, and over time creating a crease in the cloth.

In short, it's caused by a small error in execution, but precipitated by an element of the binding which nobody asked for, nobody would miss (in the short term), but which helps to ensure the books soundness and archival quality over time. Thornwillow could save itself a lot of time by not bothering with this step, and yet!

Overall, I think the press should work to address these issues, but they're caused by Thornwillow's ambitious approach to bookbinding (hammering spines by hand, accordion reinforcements in the binding) which I hope they continue. Ambition is good.

Also, I think it's deliciously ironic that folks will simultaneously say that Arion has a higher degree of craftsmanship and that their books feel "machine-made". For the record I love Arion Press and especially the ways they innovate, but I don't think their quality of craftsmanship is particularly better than Thornwillow's.

Nov 3, 2021, 1:03 pm

I feel like when it comes to fine press books you can only ever have two of three things: Handmade, High Quality, Inexpensive. But Thornwillow comes closest to providing all three.

Nov 3, 2021, 2:33 pm

>241 grifgon: "I feel like when it comes to fine press books you can only ever have two of three things: Handmade, High Quality, Inexpensive" - there is currently n=1 but I'd be curious whether Lyra's Books can continue to do all three.

Nov 3, 2021, 2:37 pm

>240 grifgon: Very interesting, informative, and insightful post, Griffin. I would never have known that about the accordion reinforcement. In fact, I had never heard of it. I certainly appreciate the fact that Thornwillow is adding an unseen and unappreciated element of quality to their binding. I can live without a perfectly rounded spine, but the ridge/crease is truly bothersome. I hope Thornwillow finds a way to resolve this problem without sacrificing the accordion reinforcement.

Nov 3, 2021, 2:59 pm

>242 punkzip: Agreed!!!

>243 ultrarightist: I hope so too! Thornwillow has recently made some new exciting hires to their bindery and print shop staff, so I expect the press will continue to improve.

Nov 3, 2021, 3:41 pm

>240 grifgon: This is exactly why I love having people actually making fine press books on this forum! And why I encourage presses I talk to who don't know about LT to get on! Who knew? I'm all about the rounded spines. I'll take a few flat ones in my handmade books but I get enough of those in trade editions.

And some extra care in a reinforced binding? I'm in. Especially if you've ever had that sad text block sag in an of your books (Which Folio Society book had a box or slipcase that had a raised ridge down the middle to support the text block?) because the boards extend beyond the text block and, well, gravity. I applaud TW bookbinding traditions when it makes sense or differentiates.

I'll take variation due to human artistic imperfection anytime over the boring perfection of machine made things. I love when an object has provenance and a little bit of the personality, strengths, and weaknesses, of the artist. I love seeing the subtle differences in the hand-coloured illustrations between two equally beautiful copies of a book. But of course I don't want the variation to be a gross mistake or a blemish.

As an analogy from my tea business, I love the variation in flavor profiles from harvest to harvest and garden to garden. I'm not talking about blends here, where blenders use different teas/harvests to try and keep the taste the same, especially in the commodity tea world (the equivalent of trade books, I suppose). I'm talking about hand-made specialty tea. If you love the 2021 Jin Jun Mei, you better stock up because next year's will be different. And with climate change and loss of terroir, some teas might be gone forever, like Darjeelings with that elusive 'muscatel' aroma.

Nov 3, 2021, 3:53 pm

>240 grifgon: Thank you for the informative and interesting explanation. Love reading of the whole process and work that goes into keeping the craft alive

Nov 3, 2021, 4:11 pm

>245 jveezer: Love the tea analogy! The other day I had an Oregon Pinot Noir which clearly had been affected by the horrible wildfires two summers ago. You could taste the climate change! Do I want all my wines to have notes of ashy smoke? No. But I do appreciate that it's a product of time and place, not some artificial Frankenstein mass-produced to perfection.

Also, regarding your comment about fine press proprietors jumping on here, I really wish Luke would! I'd venture to say that nobody alive has as much fine press experience. He's been working in fine press since 1985, when he was 16, and has done every part of the process. Paper making, printing, binding, marketing, editorial, everything. He's used hand-set type, monotype, linotype, polymer plates, and a dozen non-letterpress technologies. He's executed every sort of binding under the sun, and his own personal fine press collection (book collection in general, really) is pretty unrivaled. He's also a wealth of knowledge about the history of fine press, the great typographers, the great book designers. If you're reading this, Luke, join the conversation!!!

Nov 3, 2021, 9:34 pm

>240 grifgon: Thank you for your very informative post. It definitely sheds light into some of the perceived flaws in Thornwillow books and why they are the way the are. We definitely need more makers in this forum so that readers and collectors can gain a greater appreciation of the process.

One question that came up was when you mentioned that you guess 90% of fine presses don't add an accordion reinforcement. Is there any way to verify that in a visual inspection? I would be very curious to know what other publishers use such a technique. Similarly for curved spines, is there any way to tell if it has been done by hand or by machine? I know that my deluxe copy of Sea of Cortez from Arion Press was done by hand because there are Instagram videos showing them doing it, but for other books are there telltale signs one way or the other?

Thanks again for the informative comments!

Nov 3, 2021, 11:08 pm

Stardust by Lyra’s Press was also hammered by hand - I think it was shown in one of the videos. Not sure if the numbered and lettered both were, or just the lettered.

Nov 3, 2021, 11:38 pm

>248 mnmcdwl: "Is there any way to verify that in a visual inspection?"

Not really, unless the text block is particularly loose from the spine and you can see down the exposed spine through a gap. My 90% guess is really just a guess based on the fact that it's unnecessary (though definitely beneficial), not having seen it elsewhere in many bindery videos, and not having seen it elsewhere in the few dozen fine press books I've "dissected" for rebinding.

"is there any way to tell if it has been done by hand or by machine?"

I don't think there's any way to distinguish between a perfectly hand-hammered rounded spine and a machine rounded spine. I think this is one of those areas where a machine is simply more precise, and those that don't use machines simply do so out of love of the craft. I love my wood-fired potbelly fireplace, but it will, at best, do the job of my mini-split heat pump with a lot less efficiency and a lot more hooplah.

I will say that I've seen presses in the past make their de luxe books one-at-a-time using all hand techniques, while their standard states are assembly lined with more machine use. (Machine rounding versus hammering, sewing on a Martini versus hand-sewing, hand-gluing cover papers versus running them through a hot melt affixer, etc.)

As a general bias, I sort of think that handmade books *should* have an aura of being handmade. I agree with the frequently complaint that Arion books feel a bit too precise. As far as letterpress goes, the hardest thing in the world is to get a consistently black print which leaves no impression on the page. Arion does it time and time again; in the twentieth century is was considered "good letterpress". But I vastly prefer a sloppy, heavy impression which shines clearly through the verso. Maybe I drank too much of the cool-aid, but I like seeing the flaws in each of the fine press books I own, and I've yet to own one which doesn't have them. Not because I *want* flaws, but because no handmade book is without them. Gaylord Schanilec, who I consider to be easily in the top ten bookmakers in the world right now, told me that he's never finished a book and been happy with it.

Editado: Nov 5, 2021, 10:10 am

>250 grifgon: Again, thank you for your informative explanation. I am slowly getting there. For the reinforcement you were referring to earlier, would it be something like this, where archival paper is attached to the super?

(I tried to find one in Thornwillow's social media feed, but nothing was as clear as the above.)

As for handmade books feeling handmade, I totally understand the charm in having something that has the aura of being handmade, but on balance, I find myself more "20th-century minded". Half my life living in Japan has led me to value handmade things that seem as if they couldn't possibly be handmade. For example, the differences between a 100 USD Seiko watch and a 10,000 USD Grand Seiko watch are often hard to distinguish at first glance; or for that matter the differences between a 100 USD Pilot Custom 91 resin (plastic) fountain pen and a 1,000 USD Pilot Custom Urushi natural urushi lacquer fountain pen. Secret pleasures such as these, where only those who have the eyes to catch the differences, abound here. I like the idea of fine press publishers like Arion achieving the same.

Nov 5, 2021, 1:16 pm

>251 mnmcdwl: Yes! By the look of it, Arion is using an accordion backing on those books. See how the paper stock is folded over several times on itself? Also: If you look down the spine of the top book, you see the slightest ridge or crease or bump in the backing. If the spine material (cloth or leather) is pressed too hard into that, it will show through and actually be compounded. You'd be shocked, for example, how a little fleck on a cover board will shine through like a zit when cover paper is applied over it. Interesting, it looks like Arion is usually a heavier stock for this than Thornwillow does. Perhaps it's something Thornwillow might try?

The Japanese example is super interesting. I totally see your point: The "hidden handmade" is something quite special. To piggyback off of your examples: I'm a big snob when it comes to glassware, and the two times I've been in Venice or Murano to buy glasses, the most expensive, by far, are those which look most machine-made. Or, I like Grabriel-Glas universal wine glasses. A handmade one is ~$70 while the machinemade one is ~$35. However, in this case, there's a huge difference between them. The handmade weighs like 70g while the machinemade is like 120g.

Nov 5, 2021, 10:10 pm

>240 grifgon: Did you see the blog post from Chad regarding Wind in the Willows by any chance? Is the accordion fold reinforcement you are talking about shown on the spine of one of the photos (third from bottom on the right on the website collage; 6th from the bottom in the email version)? Under the tape he is working with, there looks like there is a solid sheet also folded between the gatherings.

I tried to find info in my usually informative Oxford Companion to the Book but although I went down a few very interesting rabbit holes, I didn't find anything on this particular method of reinforcing a spine.

Nov 5, 2021, 10:53 pm

>253 jveezer: I can't quite tell... The photo shared above of the Arion books certainly shows it! Bookbindery is such an insular craft that it's very possible the technique would be under a different name in the Oxford Companion.

Nov 9, 2021, 4:15 pm

Thornwillow's video for their BloomsYear Centennial Reading started today. I watched the first five or so readers and it's awesome so far. I'll be reading (much) later in my favorite Molly chapter.

You can check it out on their website or on YouTube here:

Nov 9, 2021, 8:40 pm

>47 PatsChoice: I'm thinking about this option as well. I think it's more about the experience of reading it in installments than having the final product on the shelf. I suspect a number of people will be following along, perhaps taking in some of on the readings Thornwillow will be releasing on YouTube.

Nov 9, 2021, 8:41 pm

>56 the_bb: Ha! I am now reflecting on the wisdom of utilizing my limited brain power toward this decision...

Nov 9, 2021, 9:01 pm

>85 astropi: Yes, I am excited about this too! That's why I'm tempted to go with the 10 paper volumes, so I can read along and really understand, in spite of my already full-to-bursting bookshelves and fondness for things like food and a roof over my head.

Nov 9, 2021, 9:03 pm

>89 punkzip: Exactly! The non-paper versions will arrive after the party is over.

Nov 9, 2021, 10:06 pm

>142 jveezer: I like the idea of how your process would work in installments: gobble up one installment, then read that portion of the Annotated guide for full understanding before moving onto the next installment...

Nov 9, 2021, 10:15 pm

>169 punkzip: Do you know if they're using the Bodley Head version? If so, that would be the perfect companion to the paper installments.

Nov 9, 2021, 10:40 pm

...and if your into annotations, there is (finally) a new updated book of annotations coming in February by OUP by Joyce scholar Sam Slote:

Nov 10, 2021, 8:12 am

>261 goldenotebook: It's the 1922 text not Bodley

Nov 10, 2021, 6:11 pm

>263 L.Bloom: Which makes sense since they're celebrating the centennial.

Nov 10, 2021, 6:35 pm

Stephen Fry announced which reading he is doing for the Thornwillow Ulysses reading...

Editado: Nov 10, 2021, 6:50 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Nov 10, 2021, 6:59 pm

Nov 10, 2021, 7:48 pm

>262 jveezer: Thanks for the heads up on this!

Nov 10, 2021, 8:16 pm

>267 FvS: Good to see that he got one of the best chapters!

Nov 11, 2021, 1:35 pm

>263 L.Bloom: Right. Thanks.

Nov 14, 2021, 9:19 am

A reminder this is finishing up in a few days. There have been instances in the past where the only reminder of a Kickstarter drawing to an end was the email alert that a charge had been made on my credit card.

Nov 16, 2021, 5:36 pm

Cool. Slipcases! With spine labels! I don't want to spend more money but I'm a slipcase lover. Wish it was spread over the 10 payments but I'll regret it if I don't go for it.

Also, last day for you mullers like me...

Nov 16, 2021, 7:37 pm

After much deliberation, I ended up going for the half-cloth with the intention of eventually rebinding to create a unique set/tome. I was sorely tempted by the "Dedalus" edition, but I'm not sure the blue paper will be a mighty triumph—especially considering the supply chain issues.

Nov 17, 2021, 7:10 am

FOMO also pushed me over the edge on this one. I went the half cloth in the end. Like >272 jveezer: I am glad there is a slipcase option. I much prefer slipcases to solander sarcophagi.

Nov 17, 2021, 9:07 am

>273 PatsChoice: I think thats a great idea... to rebind a paper or cloth set in a custom binding just for you would be amazing... and speaks to the conversation going on in another thread.

Editado: Nov 17, 2021, 2:06 pm

Synopsis of the Ulysses KS:

Total amount $241603 - this is actually much more given the installment payments of course, but missed the stretch goal of $275000

Number of backers, listed in order

Half cloth 95
Deluxe paper 40
Half leather 39
Classic Paper 33
Full Leather 31
Deluxe Half Leather 7
Calf 5
Deluxe Full Leather 3 (could be more but unlikely as the option to pay the $16460 in full was not on the site - had to contact TW for this).
Vellum 1

Observations: Half cloth was definitely the best value and the number of pledges is no surprise
3 people pledged the $16K + Bloomsday - more than I would have expected
Vellum was a flop
The paper and half-leather/leather versions were very close in number of pledges (not too surprising as IMO the paper states were poor values) - however, this is much different than usual TW KSs
I think that the limitations will prove to be overly optimistic, given that the prices typically go up substantially after the KS. For example, the classic paper limitation is 350 over pledges. No way, given that only 33 pledged at the KS price. Looks like TW anticipated the typical pattern of a substantially larger number of paper pledges compared to other states which didn't happen. The half leather and leather are 100 and 50 over pledges respectively. Hard to imagine selling this amount given that these states will both be very expensive after the KS.

Nov 17, 2021, 2:41 pm

>276 punkzip: Thank you for the data, it's always interesting to see the results. It will be interesting to see what happens with the limitations. Ulysses is one of those special works that is the crown jewel of many people's collections. If this turns out as well as even a medium quality Thornwillow product, it will be one of the finest editions ever made and certainly the finest gettable edition.

Nov 17, 2021, 3:34 pm

>276 punkzip: Thanks for the data and analysis. While the KS campaign is a success, I wonder based on the data whether the overall edition will be a success. If Thornwillow maintains those projected limitation numbers, it may take them a very long time to sell all copies. In any case, I wish them the best and I am looking forward to receiving my half-leather set of Ulysses.

Nov 17, 2021, 3:46 pm

It's worth noting that the Kickstarter campaigns are not representative of the total subscriptions for an edition. Thornwillow has a core group of subscribers who have been collecting since long before the press began using crowdfunding.

Often easy to forget that the online fine press community ≠ the fine press community.

Thornwillow has really bet their 2022 on this edition. I hope that the edition is fully subscribed before too long.

Nov 17, 2021, 4:00 pm

>276 punkzip: I disagree that they are overoptimistic on the limitation. Especially as they have subscribers that will account for some, or many, of those books, grifgon has pointed out. I doubt many special collections libraries or institutions bother about a Kickstarter--they have a standing order.

I'm biased about one of my favorite works of 20th century literature, of course. But where else are you going to get a new private press edition of Ulysses when you are a new reader or collector evolving past the trade edition paperback you were forced to buy in college? I suspect there will be some happy buyers in say, 2024, that will be ecstatic to buy a copy direct from Thornwillow over the eBay internet bookjackers.

I applaud Thornwillow for taking on a book I never expected to see from another private press.

Nov 17, 2021, 4:03 pm

>280 jveezer: I hope that you are right.

Nov 17, 2021, 5:17 pm

One thing to note, as someone in the TWP Facebook group did a while back, is that if you include the full value of the purchases that used payment plans, the actual total revenue raised will be around $450,000, I believe, though one would expect some drop off on installments (maybe 10% or so).

Also, interesting to note that Thornwillow did say before the end of the KS that the deluxe half-leather and the deluxe leather editions would be closed out after the campaign (as grifgon stated, with some additional copies likely already spoken for, separate from the KS) and would not be available for sale in the web store.

Nov 17, 2021, 7:49 pm

>279 grifgon: Can these subscribers buy at the KS prices?

Editado: Nov 17, 2021, 8:33 pm

>282 whytewolf1: TW definitely had to cap the deluxe half-leather and leather states, as the primary appeal of these is the low limitation. The deluxe half-leather for example is basically identical to the half leather with different colors, for ~$1000 more than the half-leather early bird price. The paper for the deluxe half-leather is the same used for the half-cloth. The paper for the $16k+ deluxe leather is the same as the 6K calf, and not mould-made or handmade. TW has a lot of really low limitation states (often 1-3) which are basically just presentation bindings. Given the relative newness of the extensive vertical differentiation that TW uses it is hard to know what a limitation of 1-3 means in terms of long-term secondary market value but I suspect not that much given that there are so many copies of less expensive states around and a presentation binding alone is nothing special as one could just have a custom binding made. IMO TW should do a lot more to differentiate their very expensive low limitation states - additional items like portfolios of prints (if there is art), mouldmade/handmade paper, better enclosures, and also not do the same thing every time - why are the most expensive states typically morocco with gems?

Nov 17, 2021, 8:48 pm

>284 punkzip: I completely agree. Thornwillow needs to step its game up.

Editado: Nov 17, 2021, 10:09 pm

>284 punkzip: For what it’s worth, TW did go out of their way to differentiate the top-most states of Parable of the Sower from their conventional ones. Some of them sold well and others went entirely untouched if I recall correctly.

Nov 18, 2021, 7:27 am

So, on the comments in KS, Luke mentions that he is considering doing Moby Dick..

Nov 18, 2021, 7:40 am

>287 punkzip: for the sake of my wallet, I hope that’s a 2023 or beyond idea. It would be an instant buy, and probably not at one of the lower tiers.

Nov 18, 2021, 9:32 am

>287 punkzip: Take my money!

Nov 18, 2021, 10:17 am

>280 jveezer: I second (or third) the disagreement on over-optimistic limitations.

I really dislike limitations that are set for the goal of selling out rapidly or immediately. There’s absolutely nothing wrong planning a fine press limitation that might be remain available for years, and I appreciate from Thornwillow particularly that they have such a robust back catalogue still available.

Nov 18, 2021, 12:10 pm

>287 punkzip: I asked about Melville on Twitter a few months ago and response was he is on their short list. I was hoping to see M-D or another one of his iconic works (e.g., a chapbook of Benito Cereno would be fantastic to see)

Nov 18, 2021, 1:29 pm

>284 punkzip: I think those are some really good suggestions about how to further differentiate the higher-level states.

But as far as the paper used for the deluxe half-leather, I would be very surprised if it was the same as for the half-cloth, though the descriptions seem similar. They do usually use the same paper for the half-cloth and the half-leather, but for the deluxe half-leather, they often use Crane's Lettra, a gorgeous paper which to my mind is actually somewhat comparable to mould-made paper. It's actually been a personal annoyance of mine that I usually prefer the standard half-leather designs to the deluxe half-leather but that they're not the ones that come with the Crane's Lettra paper!

>286 const-char-star: I agree with you about the differentiation on the higher-level states for Parable of the Sower, and though I also seem to recall that there may have been one or two that did not receive pledges on the KS, going back to the long-term offline subscribers and institutional buyers that TWP has, I do think that there were sales for all states, as TWP showed finished production shots of all of them and none except the "full-leather amber" edition is available in the webshop.

>291 LBShoreBook: That would be great on both counts!

Nov 19, 2021, 10:22 am

>292 whytewolf1: The very top tiers are usually lettra, which is extremely beautiful and has the qualities of mouldmade paper, but because of the kind of machine it is made on, it can't technically be called mouldmade... but it is really great. Thornwillow is loyal to it because they helped develop it for Crane's years ago.... and it is truly beautiful, 100% cotton (which many European mouldmade papers are not. Most are blends of cellulose and cotton... and some are all cellulose).

So, I do not think it is a compromise at all to use Lettra instead of a european mouldmade sheet. I really think they are very much in the same family, just variations on a theme. BUT it would be great for Thornwllow to dive into the world of handmade paper again. They know how and it is the one missing thing in their arsenal. I realize this is probably cost prohibitive, but that would be a real game changer (at least for the top editions).

I disagree about their not being ambitious with distinguishing the top tiers. Particularly with Parable of the Sower... the top tiers were extremely unique... Crocheted covers, all gilt covers, wood covers. Same with Genesis. One bound in python skin, another bound in vellum with lettra text pages, the very top tiers in period style bindings with actual leaves from King James Bible or other artifacts.... AND Hand gilt over gesso initials!!!! Or Waste Land that also had hand gilt initials ... Or their WWI Centennial edition with actual artifacts of letters and photographs and maps. Or Dante with handcolored illustrations... Lots of other examples too... so I think it is not fair to say they are not original or trying to be imaginative.

That said, I do think that handmade paper would be a great addition.

Editado: Nov 19, 2021, 11:02 am

>292 whytewolf1: >293 FvS: Crane's Lettra is a really nice paper, but I don't see how it's comparable to mouldmade papers. No deckle, no watermark, completely different production process, completely different history, completely different pricepoint. Would be curious to know more about why you think they're comparable?

Thornwillow's handmade papers used in its books between about 1993 and 2003 is the finest paper I've seen in any fine press book. It's light-years beyond machine made papers (including Crane Lettra) and a head above the European mouldmade papers. I do wish they'd consider bringing it back! That said, I think mouldmade papers would be a significant step up, and that many collectors would be interested in paying the additional cost.

Nov 19, 2021, 11:15 am

>293 FvS: We tend to focus on production method over ingredients for paper, so your point about the composition of the paper is well taken. A 100% cotton paper - even if it is not mouldmade - is nothing to sneeze at. And I was not aware that some Thornwillow editions have hand-gilt initials. That is definitely a nice differentiator. Thanks for your informative post.

Editado: Nov 19, 2021, 11:17 am

>294 grifgon: "That said, I think mouldmade papers would be a significant step up, and that many collectors would be interested in paying the additional cost."

I second that motion. And...nudge, nudge, wink, wink...that goes for your own press as well. :-)

Nov 19, 2021, 11:23 am

>296 ultrarightist: Done! No Reply switched to mouldmade at the beginning of this year. "A Scandal in Bohemia" offered both mouldmade and machine-made states, but "Enūma Elis" dropped the machine-made entirely. I think 100% of our books going forward will be mouldmade or handmade. That said, its MUCH easier on No Reply's smaller private press books to use mouldmade than Thornwillow's tomes. I actually think that if Thornwillow tried to print every book with mouldmade, there simply wouldn't be enough supply to go around. I'm having trouble getting all of the Hahnemühle I need to begin printing on our first "big book" — the project has been delayed for months due to supply issues alone.

Nov 19, 2021, 11:32 am

>297 grifgon: our first "big book"

I don't suppose you would like to drop a hint as to which book you are speaking of here ;)

Nov 19, 2021, 11:33 am

Nov 19, 2021, 11:46 am

>299 grifgon: The Brothers Karamazov confirmed

Nov 19, 2021, 11:48 am

>300 L.Bloom: Bilingual edition. 4,000 pages. 2 copies.

Nov 19, 2021, 12:06 pm

>297 grifgon: I knew you were heading in that direction, but great to hear that most/all of your future editions will use mouldmade or handmade paper. I put my money where my mouth is and purchased Enūma Elis and the mouldmade state of Scandal in Bohemia.

Nov 19, 2021, 12:09 pm

>291 LBShoreBook: Well the good news is that a companion dispatch + broadsides + broadside print / portfolio seems to be the new pattern, with the last four Thornwillow books all following this pattern. I think Benito Cereno is slightly longer than The Dead, so would be the longest dispatch yet, but isn't impossible. A sketch from Encantados wouldn't be surprising either.

Nov 19, 2021, 2:34 pm

>301 grifgon:
If it is a bilingual edition of Brothers Karamazov, with full text in Russian, I am almost certain that I will be in line to purchase it. "Almost...", because it will depend on the design and the cost for me.

Nov 19, 2021, 2:37 pm

>304 booksforreading: Alas, only kidding about the Brothers... I have to say that B.K. is the only of the major Russian novels which I didn't enjoy. Perhaps I need to revisit it, and maybe in a different translation?

But we do have another bilingual Russian project in mind! Cyrillic is so beautiful and looks amazing letterpress. And of course Valeria is always keen to use her native Russian. I've been able to use my native Akkadian recently (😁) so it's her turn anyway.

Nov 19, 2021, 3:00 pm

>305 grifgon:
OK. :)
Looking forward to hearing your new ideas at some point!

Nov 19, 2021, 3:24 pm

>294 grifgon: Its comparable to mouldmade in that it is "saturation" paper which means that the saturation of the pulp in the water is maxed out and the fiber length is longer. The pulp formation is really the same as for mouldmade. It is also very lightly calendared which makes it less dense. A stack of 100 sheets of mouldmade paper and a stack of 100 sheets of lettra paper have the same thickness, whereas a stack of superfine or other machine made paper would not be so tall. The difference between the mouldmade and lettra is that lettra is made on a wider machine that rolls faster, so when it is sheeted, there are no deckles, whereas a mouldmade sheet is made on a narrower machine that is the width of the sheet so the "natural" deckles are the outside edge on two sides... the other two sides of a mouldmade sheet are simply torn... so would be the exact same as if you tore an edge of Lettra. Lettra could have a watermark in it, but Crane's doesn't do it, probably because it would make their yields more complicated and limit what they can cut from a master roll. Mouldmade is also made in rolls, just narrower.

In general a watermark on a mouldmade sheet is clunkier than a handmade sheet, so Im not sure I really miss it. Look at the watermark on Somerset or Arches... not a great thing. On mouldmade paper the watermark is made by a rubber roller (called a dandy roll) that kind of stamps it in as the paper is made as opposed to a real watermark that is formed by wire in the paper mould that causes the sheet to be thinner where the wire is.

Some mouldmade paper is exceptional. Hahnemuhle, for example is really great. But many mouldmade papers actually have a lot of, or are entirely cellulose. Some of the Schiff era LEC books are on some of these mouldmade sheets that actually today have developed a yellow cast. That's, most likely because of the cellulose pulp.

If you tear or cut out a sheet of Hahnemuhle and tear or cut a sheet of Lettra (in other words, remove the deckle from the equation), the paper itself is really very very similar. The quality of the pulp is identical, the quality of the formation of the sheet is comparable.

ALL THIS BEING SAID... I am not knocking mouldmade paper... it is great... and Hahnemuhle is really wonderful... But Lettra is a great paper too...

Sorry if I bored people with this dive into the technicalities.

Nov 19, 2021, 3:42 pm

>307 FvS: Love it!!! You clearly know your stuff. I disagree that watermarks on mouldmade paper are clunky. I think Zerkall, Rives, Arches, Stonehenge, etc. all incorporate and execute their watermarks wonderfully. I can certainly respect differences of opinion on the matter though!

In my opinion, if Thornwillow's Moravian handmade paper is a 10 (the superlative in fine paper) and Mohawk Superfine is a 1 (the minimum acceptable), the European mouldmade papers are a 6 or 7 whereas Lettra or Flurry are a 3 or 4. Perhaps closer to one another than to the absolute best or the absolute minimum.

The question for me comes down to cost. Are the benefits of mouldmade papers (the deckles, the watermarks, the history of the individual mills) worth x4 or x5 the cost of Lettra or Flurry. I think so, but certainly respect presses and collectors who see it differently.

Also @ultrarightest, I lied! Totally overlooked No Reply's "Per See Phone," which is on Crane Lettra. (Like I said, I like Lettra!!!) But that's the last No Reply book for the foreseeable future on machine-made.

Nov 19, 2021, 5:33 pm

>308 grifgon: There are certainly some very nice watermarks on mouldmade sheets... but also many are NOT nice... Arches, Johannot, Rives, Somerset ... not very nice. They really look IMO clunky. Fabriano, Hahnemuhle, Zerkall are certainly very nice.

I am not saying that I agree with him, but I remember hearing John Randall (Whittington Press) give a talk many years ago in which he talked about paper... he hated what he called "flaccid" mouldmade papers... he said he preferred a stiffer paper and often preferred a high quality machine made sheet to a soft mouldmade or handmade sheet. Again, I'm not saying I agree at all... but just to your point about multiple valid opinions from thoughtful knowledgable people.

I like Lettra... i think it is much more than middling and really feel it is right up there with hahnemuhle. It just doesn't have the sexy euro brand appeal. If you touch the sheets... they are very similar. It's the exact same pulp formed in the same way... but without a mouldmade deckle... which is VERY different from a real deckle, like on the Thornwillow Czech paper you mention. A real handmade deckle is uneven and thins and puddles as the pulp slipped under the deckle (top frame) on a paper mould when it is formed by the vatman. A mouldmade deckle is even and perfect... machined... because it is made on a machine. And a mouldmade deckle is only on two sides, the other two sides are torn. If you tear Lettra, its the same. Do a test, you'll see what I mean.

When you say, i'm never using machine made paper again, that includes mouldmade. Mouldmade paper is made on a machine very very similar to the machine that crane's paper is made on. The machines are just smaller

None of this should stop you from using mouldmade paper on all of your books. it is admirable and great... you should do it... Your future books, like your past ones not on mouldmade paper, will be beautiful. And, if you use more lettra, I, at least, will find it admirable and just as worthy as when you use hahnemuhle.

We all look forward to what you will do next.

Editado: Nov 19, 2021, 6:07 pm

>309 FvS: I don't really agree that Lettra and Hahnemüle are all that similar to touch and tear, and it's hard to say that Lettra has a similar feel to the mouldmade papers, in that they are so different from one another. Hanhemüle Butra, for example, is so different to touch and tear than, say, a standard Zerkall 145gsm. I must say that I DO love the way Lettra tears, and I actually prefer its tears to the two torn sides of the papers I mention above. (The aforementioned "Per Se Phone" will be painstakingly hand-torn from the 8-up sheets.) That said, I far prefer the deckle of a mouldmade. I wish Mohawk produced Crane Lettra with a deckle! I think it would make it a much more attractive option for many more fine bookmakers.

I of course mean "machine-made" in the colloquial sense of mass-produced, available in dozens of sizes, colors, textures, etc. All papers require machines to produce, except for the absolute smallest batch handmades.

Love John Randall's assessment. I bet he'd be a fan of the stiff University of Iowa handmade papers, recently used on Foolscap's Mandeville to much acclaim.

Editado: Nov 22, 2021, 5:18 pm

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Editado: Nov 22, 2021, 5:23 pm

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Dez 26, 2021, 1:07 pm

Just did my backer survey for Ulysses. Very excited for this one. Very hard not to add in The Dead but I'm already pushing my book budget to what feel like Pentagon levels Haha.

The survey asked if I would be interested in another long (and expensive obviously) work. Why yes, of course. Glad you asked. I put In Search of Lost Time in the new Prendergast-edited translations but would take the fusty old Moncrieff in letterpress in a heartbeat too. To my knowledge only LEC has done Proust letterpress(?) and that was only Swann's Way.

But they better hurry. I only have 18.79 reading years left if I make it to the average in the U.S.A. And my last reading of this work took 18 months.

Dez 26, 2021, 3:07 pm

>313 jveezer: I also put In Search of Lost time. After highly anticipating the new Penguin translations I actually enjoyed Moncrieff more. I love Proust but I've never had more difficulty with an author! For fifty page spans I kept asking myself why continue until I came across a passage that is one of the most beautiful literature has to offer. I also put The Man Without Qualities which is my favorite 20th century novel, Kristin Lavransdatter, The Sea of Fertility, all or any Dostoevsky, and The Gulag Archipelago. So many more come to mind but I'm glad they asked for input and hope they do go a little outside the box with literature and not the same British and American authors.

Dez 26, 2021, 3:29 pm

>313 jveezer:
>314 Joshbooks1:
I wasn't sure how to answer the question about another long edition. My preference would be something classic that hasn't been done in a fine edition, a new or modern translation that hadn't seen a fine edition, or one that's been don't but is prohibitively expensive for non-billionaires.

Editado: Dez 26, 2021, 4:52 pm

>313 jveezer: Based upon a comment posted on the Ulysses Kickstarter, I suspect the next installment book, if there is one, will be Moby Dick.

Dez 26, 2021, 5:50 pm

>316 punkzip: Don't know if I have a third(/fourth?) read of Moby Dick in me, as much as I loved it. And I'm happy with my UC limited facsimile of the Arion Press edition. So I'd be able to pass on Melville. Not so Proust.

Dez 26, 2021, 6:10 pm

>316 punkzip: Fingers crossed - instant buy for me to add to my (multiple) other editions.

Dez 26, 2021, 6:21 pm

Proust is a great idea, unfortunately, I've already voted. I voted against Moby Dick or Don Quixote.

Dez 26, 2021, 7:28 pm

I'd really love to see an illustrated fine press Moby Dick at an affordable price... am I asking too much??

Dez 26, 2021, 8:52 pm

>320 astropi: Personally Moby Dick is one of those books I can never have enough of. Every time I reread Melville I am astounded by his genius and was so ahead of his time that it's a tragedy he stopped writing novels after the Confidence Man (which I also loved) since no one read his works. Have you ever read Melville A Novel by Jean Giono? It's a wonderful fictional novella of when Melville went to London to promote White-Jacket.

Dez 26, 2021, 9:09 pm

>320 astropi: I know it's not what you're looking for but have you read Moby Dick in Pictures? Not quite a graphic novel, not an illustrated text, but still quite interesting and another lens through which to view the novel.

Dez 26, 2021, 10:42 pm

>320 astropi: yes! Long book, letterpress, commissioned art, great paper, nice binding - how could one possibly sell an affordable edition?

Editado: Dez 26, 2021, 11:00 pm

>321 Joshbooks1: >322 jveezer: thank you, I have not read either. I am a big Melville fan, and have had the pleasure of visiting his home
I am always happy to learn more :)

>323 kdweber: I think it's doable. Now, if the Rockwell Kent illustrations of Moby Dick are in the public domain, which in principle they are since it's been over 70 years, then one could in principle use them without having to pay royalty fees which would greatly decrease the cost. And, they are sublime!

ps There is a movie on Moby Dick (have not yet seen it) that is worth checking out - Call Us Ishmael
Call Us Ishmael is the story of a book and the people who love it. Each and every year hundreds of people flock to New Bedford, Massachusetts in bleak mid-winter to partake in a celebration like none other. They read this single book out loud over the course of two full days without stopping. All of these people have one thing in common: they are obsessed with "Moby-Dick", the book that most call the Great American Novel. Its that book that everyone knows, but probably hasn't read. Herman Melville's masterwork has an intimidating reputation, but also has a cult following. This is the first film dedicated to meeting the people who keep the legacy of the text alive. Call us Ishmael chronicles filmmaker David Shaerf's journey into the world of Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick". Throughout his quest he encounters artists, musicians, professors and performers, all of whom are singularly seeking the White Whale. Call Us Ismael gives us an insight into a community devoted to this timeless text.

Editado: Nov 19, 2022, 5:12 pm

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Dez 27, 2021, 5:55 am

>325 supercell: if they are not in the public domain, it may be able to get permission to reprint fairly inexpensively - perhaps worth a shot :)

Dez 27, 2021, 11:26 am

>326 astropi:
No Reply Press has used Rockwell Kent illustrations on a couple of their broadsides (Invictus, Ozymandias), so presumably it’s not a very heavy lift.

Dez 27, 2021, 11:41 am

I'm hoping for Proust. Savine, Thornwillow's co-owner, is a native French speaker and a scholar of French literature, so it may be time, seeing as Thornwillow's last work of French literature Le Bateau Ivre was in 1992. Moby Dick has been done, and done extraordinarily well, already.

It's possible to get permission to reprint Rockwell Kent's work, but it must be done on a case by case basis as the copyrights are variously held. By no means as straightforward as obtaining permission for the work of some authors which are professionally managed by copyright clearing houses. In fact, he could be a case study in the byzantine nature of mid-century copyright in the U.S. No Reply is using his work again in 2022 to illustrate a work of science fiction. Excited to share it.

Dez 27, 2021, 2:38 pm

>328 grifgon: No Reply is using his work again in 2022 to illustrate a work of science fiction. Excited to share it.

Look forward to hearing more when there’s news to share!

Dez 27, 2021, 8:49 pm

>329 const-char-star: >328 grifgon:

I’m probably grasping at straws, but Rockwell Kent’s Arctic illustrations would be a very creative choice for a novel set on an icy planet from a certain Portland author …

Editado: Dez 27, 2021, 8:58 pm

>330 NathanOv: 😂 If Kent was a Portland artist it would be perfect... Alas!

Dez 27, 2021, 9:00 pm

Very curious: Has anybody been listening to the Grand Reading of Ulysses which Thornwillow has been putting out? (I think through YouTube and their Colophon podcast.) If so, what do you think? I imagine it's a ton of work for the press to put together, and I wonder whether it's been received in a way that encourages future such efforts.

Editado: Dez 28, 2021, 11:32 am

>332 grifgon: I watched about 5 minutes of the first YouTube video. Interesting but not something I would commit 20 hours or whatever to complete. I wonder if part of this is posterity - someone can latch on to these in 10, 20, 30, etc. years.

Dez 27, 2021, 11:55 pm

>332 grifgon: I've listened to all of them so far. I love 'em. Some readers are better than others, of course. But it's a great way of 'reading' the novel. And a tradition every year on BloomsDay, I believe. I'd be surprised if there weren't other ones out there in the internet from other years in some form or other. I've never done it before but I'm all in to support a press I love. I'll be reading in the Penelope chapter too, whenever they get around to that. Out of the Arion Press Ulysses, I'm thinking...

Jan 3, 2022, 2:28 pm

I like the video clips, but prefer the audio version they have up as part of their podcast. Here's a link on Spotify, but you can also find it in all the usual podcast feeds: Thornwillow Colophon Podcast

I prefer listening to it than watching the readers. Similarly, I'm not up for going for hours to a Blooms Day reading but really like listening to it being read in installments when I have time (like while driving or doing other things). Some of the readings are better than others, as mentioned. Some are really good!!! The other Thornwillow podcasts are worth listening to as well. The one with Roz Chast is whacky... all are worth a listen.

I love the idea of Thornwillow doing Moby Dick. Yes, Moby Dick has been done many times before really well but I'm not aware of it being done in installments like this. Furthermore, the most beautiful editions are not at all reader friendly (like the original Kent or Arion. neither is a book to read). Part of what I am excited about with Ulysses is getting the installments and going on a reading journey over time. To read a little every month at a comfortable pace and then to have a beautiful set when it is done to keep on the shelf forever, I think is great. Moby Dick would be perfect. That said, MANY other titles would be great for this treatment as well.

Jan 3, 2022, 2:33 pm

Perhaps this should be another thread, but has anyone started to try to decode the "secret" in The Magic Shop?

It can't be as simple as the buried image on the back (very well done printing by the way). That would be much too obvious. If their Poe challenge was any indication, it won't be easy.

Jan 3, 2022, 4:59 pm

>335 FvS: I don't have the Arion Moby-Dick (I wish!), but I do have a copy of the California Deluxe edition, which isn't quite as large but is almost as big, and I find it quite pleasant to read.

For large books like this, I often sit with the book on my lap. The size is such that it stays open on its own. There is no fatigue from holding a heavy book. In fact, I would say that it is more "reader friendly" than a thick trade hardcover (though obviously not as portable). At a desk works as well. It does require a certain deliberateness to start reading, which I would say adds to the experience. Not exactly ritualistic, but something approaching the same feeling.

(Apologies for extending the tangent!)

Jan 3, 2022, 6:27 pm

>337 abysswalker: I love big books. Bruce Rogers' Lectern Bible for one.... And the Barry Moser (Arion) Moby Dick is indeed another. The large formats, for me, though are more about being able to do great things with the artwork. I like to read in a chair not at a desk, table or lectern. The trade reprints of Rockwell Kent's Moby Dick and the UofC edition of Arion's MB are really nice, but not at all the same as the fine press editions they are reproducing. I still think a roughly 6 x 9 edition of Moby Dick in large type, printed letterpress, spread over many volumes if necessary so that the type doesn't get too small... would be a really nice addition to my life... and I am really not aware of such an edition already in existence that I could hunt for.

Re Big Books: Not sure if you know Thornwillow's Monticello and the Legacy of Thomas Jefferson? Large format with lots of engraved plates of the house. A gorgeous book. Long out of print. Or their more recent Chippendale volume... a tour de force. It's amazing if you are interested in classical design. Or Rimbaud's Le Bateau Ivre (a portfolio, not a book at all).

All three very big... and wonderful....

but Im still looking for a "holdable" Moby Dick... and am keeping my hopes up for that one.

Jan 5, 2022, 12:39 am

>332 grifgon: I haven't started yet. I'm looking forward to reading it in installments when they come, and plan to weave in some listening then.

Jan 18, 2022, 12:04 am

The Huntington outside Pasadena is putting on an exhibit that includes original maps and schemas from Joyce's Ulysses, plus a bunch of other great works, in honor of the big anniversary:

Jan 19, 2022, 3:50 pm

Just sent off my video bit for the Ulysses BloomsYear reading. I inadvertently picked quite a spicy section of the admittedly saucy Penelope chapter. My partner who happened to walk by while I was practicing said "What in the world are you reading!" Ha ha. Love me some Molly Bloom stream of consciousness.

Anyone seen the link for installment payments yet? Mind you my wallet is fine if they take their sweet time but...

Jan 19, 2022, 8:47 pm

>341 jveezer: I haven’t seen an instalment link yet, and it’s been on my mind. I’m sure it’ll come along, haha.

Jan 21, 2022, 5:55 pm

>342 Didici: I think in a recent comment they mention they will be sending them out before the end of the month.... and they are locking the backerkit surveys on the 25th. That's what I recall reading, but now cant find where I saw it. There's a new podcast posted. I really like listening to the audio version while doing other things. The Fry reading is really great.

>341 jveezer: And the Winsome Brown reading is also quite "spicy". I'm blushing.

Jan 21, 2022, 7:02 pm

>343 FvS: I loved Winsome Brown's reading. Of course the accent helps because for me it lends that authenticity of a June 16th day in Dublin. I also found her anecdote very amusing.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 6:47 am

Those of you who passed on TW's Ulysses have this new Folio LE to consider (I was wishing for Gormenghast alas). In the same price range as the half-cloth TW state. I backed the TW half-leather and will be passing on this. Given the size of the volume will likely be fairly difficult to actually read compared to Thornwillow's approach. However, this is available now, while we have to wait until the end of the year for TW's edition (unless one backed the installment versions).

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 6:49 am

>345 punkzip: Dig the typography and the art. Difficult to illustrate Ulysses, but this does a good job (in my book). Thanks for sharing!

Is the Folio edition printed letterpress? (I've never had a FS edition in my collection, so apologies if the answer is obvious one way or the other.)

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 6:53 am

>346 grifgon: No it is not letterpress (would be a tremendous value if it were). Very few current FS books are - If Not Winter is one, and a very good deal for the price - their best known OOP letterpress books are aptly named Letterpress Shakespeare

Jan 25, 2022, 6:52 am

>347 punkzip: Ah, thanks.

Oh WOW – you're right about "If Not Winter" being a good deal.

Sort of the opposite of Ulysses, I don't particular care for the design, but letterpress at that price is hard to pass up.

Much obliged!

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 6:58 am

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Jan 25, 2022, 7:50 am

It's one of those money making lazy productions just copying an earlier edition, make it look like Easton press, and charge $800 + taxes and shipping, so more like $900. I don't even see how it's an upgrade to their prior Ulysses LE. So happy I went the Thornwillow route.

Jan 25, 2022, 9:07 am

>350 Joshbooks1: Exactly, and agreed.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:11 am

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Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:54 am

>351 ultrarightist: As a backer of the half-leather TW Ulysses, I'm going to disagree here. TWs decision to break Ulysses up into 4 volumes priced many of their states out of the reach of many collectors. I backed the half-leather as I felt it was the most attractive of the states but at close to $2400 at the early bird KS price it was not a good value compared to the half-cloth state (of course, anyone who didn't get the early bird will pay quite a bit more). The full leather at $3500+ early KS was quite a poor value compared to the half-cloth state (an extra $2700 for full leather and an enclosure?). This are prices for a public domain book without illustrations, and no mouldmade paper which would be standard for fine press in this price range. The half-cloth state was easily the best value but did not come with an enclosure which was $350 more. I also felt the binding was unattractive which is why I didn't back it. The paper wrapper states, given the prices, were a non-starter for me. While this is a rebind of the 2017 fine edition, not only is it full calfskin, it comes with other upgrades such as better paper, and an attractive clamshell enclosure instead of a slipcase (as well as other minor additions). Most importantly, the 2017 fine edition was selling for $600-700 on the secondary market (and the prior LE was not cheap either), so at the very least, this will bring down the price of the 2017 fine edition and maybe the prior LE quite a bit. More Ulysses in a variety of options and price ranges is a good thing. I backed the TW because I wanted a letterpress edition, but the FS editions will satisfy many collectors - and I suspect this LE will sell out fairly quickly.

Jan 25, 2022, 9:53 am

I can't see how a $2,400 edition in 4 volumes, half leather, no illustrations, and no paper to write home about present good value, when a full leather version, limited to 500 copies, in a beautiful solander similar to Call of Cthulhu and with 18 acclaimed illustrations for $800 presents poor value.

Of course, the TW edition is letterpress, which is a big deal, but costs three times as much. If someone had that much money laying around, then that's great, but the majority of collectors our there don't have the budget to allocate $2,400 to a single book.

Also, what makes the FS LE look like Easton Press? Is it the combination of green and gold?

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 9:58 am

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Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 10:06 am

What_What Agreed, and I backed the half leather TW. Also the full leather TW- which is actually a better comparison - was $3500+ even at early bird KS - compare that to this full leather FS book with illustrations. That's a big premium for letterpress...

The best comparison would be to the TW half-cloth state without the enclosure ($350 extra enclosure). That was easily the best value and close to the same price as this FS LE. I think it's pretty close here.

Jan 25, 2022, 10:07 am

Non-letterpress is a non-starter for me, so I was happy to order the Thornwillow Press half-leather edition over others such as the Folio Society. Does anybody know how the Thornwillow edition will be printed? Depending on the method of letterpress $2,400 could either be a steal or a little steep for a work of this length.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 10:30 am

>357 realto: I do not, no, but I seriously doubt that it is hand-set or hand-printed. I think the real question is whether it is printed from hot metal type or photopolymer plates.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 10:29 am

>356 punkzip: I think you might be glossing over the full-leather’s bump in paper quality. As per TW, “Dedalus edition will be on blue paper (either Lettra or another soft blue archival paper that is very beautiful).”

Jan 25, 2022, 10:29 am

>353 punkzip: All good points. I also backed the TW half-leather state, and am glad I did so. Like you, I am disappointed TW did not use a mould-made paper (I initially backed the half-cloth state because of this, but couldn't resist the half-leather binding). I own the FS Fine edition of Ulysses, and like it very much, including the illustrations. It seems to me that FS was lazy and a bit greedy and gussied up the Fine edition rather than simply reissuing the Fine edition for the centenary. I'm not a fan of taking the text blocks of standard or fine editions and then binding them in leather with a few extras to make an LE.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 10:32 am

>359 const-char-star: the paper upgrade isn’t that great given that it’s not mouldmade. Still not even close to worth the cost over the half-leather for me and way overpriced compared to the half cloth. I also find the half leather the most attractive state but that is of course subjective

Jan 25, 2022, 10:36 am

>358 ultrarightist: I believe Thornwillow does the majority of their work using photopolymer plates, especially for their kickstarter books and monthly dispatches.

Jan 25, 2022, 10:51 am

>362 921Jack: That's my understanding, as well.

>359 const-char-star: I agree with you on this. I like Crane's Lettra as well as just about any mould-made paper I've ever handled, and as has been discussed previously (and as I understand it), the difference between Lettra and mould-made paper is really just a technical one.

Jan 25, 2022, 10:53 am

>357 realto: >358 ultrarightist: >362 921Jack: Thornwillow exclusively uses polymer plates, which it makes in-house (this is no small feat). The recent books have all been printed on a Heidelberg cylinder press, with some work (flourishes, titling, etc.) done on Thornwillow's original Vandercook Universal I which printed the press' first book way back in 1985.

>359 const-char-star: >361 punkzip: The Lettra is certainly a bump in paper quality over Superfine, though not as much as mouldmade would have been. It's perhaps the best we could hope for given the length. 1,200+ pages of mouldmade could have added $1,000 at least to the price, may actually have been difficult to acquire given the sheer volume, and would probably have required a different printing setup than the Superfine – doubling the print load.

Jan 25, 2022, 10:56 am

>364 grifgon: Thank you as always for your insight and information.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 11:08 am

>361 punkzip: Lettra isn’t mouldmade paper, certainly, but it’s mouldmade-like (or described as such, at least). In any case, it’s a notable upgrade over the paper used in the FS LE you’re comparing against.

>364 grifgon: Thank you for delivering a more detailed and informative response than mine in half the time :).

Jan 25, 2022, 11:15 am

>354 What_What: I really like the solander case but otherwise all they did was use the identical layout including pictures of a book already created with minimal thought to anything else and just added leather. Personally illustrations have never been a deal break for me and at times I find them cumbersome. With Folio it feels like such a marketing sham and greed that they are doing ANOTHER limited edition of Ulysses to mark the centenillal with no creative thought process involved "lets just add leather to a production we've already made and charge over four times the original price." They have done this more frequently turning SE into LE and charging an exorbitant amount for pretty much an "upgrade." It bugs me more than usual because they already made a Ulysses LE less than 20 years ago! And not to nitpick but with folio's shipping to the US and taxes it's more around $900. I would rather want the 4 volume Thornwillow cloth with a slipcase than Folio's production but likely personal preference.

Jan 25, 2022, 11:18 am

>348 grifgon: What about the design of FS's If Not Winter do you not care for?

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 11:39 am

The paper debate is always a great one. If anybody is curious about prices, here's a general comparison (from Legion Paper and Talas, two of the biggest supplier of fine papers in the U.S.):

Superfine: $0.10 per square foot

Flurry: $0.14 per square foot

Lettra: $0.15 per square foot

Arches MBM (the cheapest mouldmade): $0.65 per square foot

Zerkall 145gsm (a ubiquitous mouldmade): $1.20 per square foot

St. Armand Old Masters (a revered mouldmade): $2.50 per square foot

University of Iowa Handmade: $4.00 per square foot

Lettra is a great paper, and although I don't think it's comparable to mouldmade, it really does have a wonderful feel to it and prints beautifully. The material costs skyrocket when you move from mass-produced paper to mouldmade to handmade. I think Thornwillow has found the right balance by offering excellent papers that don't break the bank.

Jan 25, 2022, 11:28 am

>368 ultrarightist: The binding and slipcase just doesn't click for me. I've got a ton of respect for the Folio Society's design team, though, and I'm sure if I were to hear the the consideration they put into it I could become enchanted.

Jan 25, 2022, 11:33 am

Well, I almost didn't even look, and when I did I need not have. Regurgitation. Not that I'm immune to it as I have two of the three(?) previous FS versions of Ulysses: the 1998 standard and the limited state of that same edition. I passed on the special edition that this new limited state is based on and that matches the special Finnegans Wake, which might be the last FS book I bought. If I had none of the above I might be tempted by this but the thrill is mostly gone for me when it comes to the Folio Society, alas. Just need to complete a couple of sets I started and find a couple more that I missed from better times. I hope they find their way back to a piece of my book buying budget.

Very happy with my BloomsYear Thornwillow Ulysses. A new edition in multiple creative states of one of my favorite novels. If I was made of money I would have ordered both the deluxe paper-wrapper and the Molly special; as it was I ordered the cheapest half cloth. Can't wait to read it.

Jan 25, 2022, 11:37 am

>369 grifgon: Now that the Zerkall option will soon be gone, what do you think will be the most widely used fine press mouldmade paper?

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 11:44 am

>372 punkzip: Now that's a terrific question! No clue! Hahnemühle Biblio?

I would love for it to be an opportunity for Stonehenge to get more into the 100 to 200 gsm market (which is roughly the weight range of text pages). They're an American-made mould-made paper which is terrific, and which is significantly less expensive stateside than European rivals. Unfortunately they don't have much of a presence in the book arts, as most of their papers are 250gsm+.

Jan 25, 2022, 12:16 pm

>373 grifgon: Would you mind elaborating a bit on where cave paper fits in the mix of quality when it comes to these? And perhaps cost too?

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 12:45 pm

>374 Objectr: Sure! I'd imagine most people on this forum are familiar with Zoë Goehring's Cave Paper, but if not, it's a favorite among private presses in the U.S. especially. It's not a text paper, like those I listed, so not really a good direct comparison. Each sheet is handmade in very small batches from all natural materials like flax, and the paper is incredibly dense. For one of her standard designs, it runs ~$15.00 per usable square foot, and for a specially made design it could be significantly more. It's actually more expensive per square foot than many fine book leathers. I love it!

Jan 25, 2022, 12:58 pm

>375 grifgon: Thank you, sir!

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 4:26 pm

LEC had great success printing letterpress on wove paper which IMO were about the same quality as today's Mohawk Superfine. I'm not sure how many of their books were on wove paper, but they still often achieved excellent results.

Jan 25, 2022, 5:28 pm

Hi everyone!

I'm fairly new to this website so excuse any wrong doings I may incur if any but I have a few questions. I'm very much interested in adding the TW Ulysses Half-Cloth edition to my collection and was wondering if it's still available for purchase along with how would you go about purchasing it. Also, if it is still available when is the deadline to purchasing this particular edition.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 10:23 pm

>378 youcefGAIA: When the books are all printed, they’ll be available on the TW website for order, albeit usually at a small premium to the Kickstarter prices. The Kickstarter usually indicates how many extra copies they plan to print beyond what was pledged. That number is approximately the number that’ll be available for order on the site.

Editado: Jan 25, 2022, 5:46 pm

EDIT: was typing at the same time as >379 What_What:, so I'll just leave this added information: there should be about 250 more available in the half-cloth, depending on how they've judged the remaining demand, and that's quite a lot since the pre-publication subscription period has already happened.

Jan 25, 2022, 5:43 pm

Thank you both for your answers!

I'll wait patiently for them to upload the book on their website and will be checking religiously everyday to make sure I don't miss the sale :)

Jan 25, 2022, 6:41 pm

>381 youcefGAIA: The half-cloth Ulysses is not due until December, so you don't need to check every day :).

Jan 25, 2022, 7:49 pm

>381 youcefGAIA: You could probably just reach out to the press directly and see what they say. Looks like their general email is

Jan 25, 2022, 8:02 pm

>378 youcefGAIA: As I understand it, they will be offering the various editions of Ulysses directly from their website shortly. So, if you do check back every day, I think you should be in luck very soon. :)

Jan 27, 2022, 2:34 pm

Can't wait for the first reviews of Chapter One of the paper-wrapped editions! Wonder when those might be in the hands of subscribers...Gonna be hard to wait for my half-cloth once those start rolling out.

Editado: Fev 2, 2022, 11:47 am

Off topic (sort of) but uh oh...Ulysses: an Illustrated Edition

That would mean yet another read but it would only be at $0.01/page. ;)

And my Joyce shelf is full. He's already gonna encroach on the French writers when my Thornwillow comes. Hmmmm....

Also, happy birthday Ulysses!!!

Fev 2, 2022, 11:58 am

>386 jveezer: Amazon provides this interesting detail: Item weight: 7.3 pounds. That is a true doorstopper. 🤦‍♂️

Fev 2, 2022, 12:05 pm

>387 LBShoreBook: Ha ha, well, many would consider that an acceptable use for Ulysses, whether they have one or eight (soon 10?) editions...

For anti-Amazoners like myself who try to vote with their dollars every purchase, you can get the book direct from Other Press or from Powell's books and support bookstores and presses instead of boys playing monopoly.

Fev 2, 2022, 12:08 pm

Interesting quote on the Press' website: "Now available for the first time in English, this unique edition of the classic novel features three hundred images created by Arroyo—vibrant, eclectic drawings, paintings, and collages that reflect and amplify the energy of Joyce’s writing."

Almost makes it sound like the re-translated back from Spanish! But I assume they did NOT do that but they would still need to reset the text to the illustrations. I'm really intrigued.

Fev 2, 2022, 12:37 pm

>389 jveezer: or maybe the illustrations/images are available for the first time in an English language edition of the novel

Fev 2, 2022, 12:45 pm

>388 jveezer:

Just took the plunge. If you purchase directly from The Other Press a coupon code appeared at checkout (ULYSSES20) that was $15 off, making it quite comparable to the price at you-know-where...

Fev 2, 2022, 1:46 pm

>391 kcshankd: "you-know-where" 😂

Fev 2, 2022, 1:58 pm

>391 kcshankd: Wow! Thanks for the tip...that tipped me over the edge. I was gonna jump anyway but 20% off and $1 shipping? Yes I will I said yes...

Fev 2, 2022, 3:27 pm

Fev 2, 2022, 4:29 pm

And here for convenience are the links to the Thornwillow Centennial Readings so far (both video and audio only:

Episode I

Episode II

Episode III

Episode IV

I personally like the podcast version (audio only) which you can listen to while doing other things, like driving.
NOTE: You can subscribe on Apple or Spotify and get notified automatically when new episodes land.

Fev 2, 2022, 5:50 pm

Slightly off-topic. How George Macy dealt with lotteries.

Fev 2, 2022, 7:05 pm

>396 Lukas1990: This is wonderful! Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the letterhead is the lettering of William Addison Dwiggins the great book designer and type designer famous for giving Knopf it's reputation for bringing out beautiful books. He also designed a number of LEC books.

I know the LEC Ulysses is famous and important... but it is not my favorite edition of Ulysses and not at all my favorite LEC book.

Fev 4, 2022, 9:06 am

This nice clip about Ulysses at 100 just aired in France...

An excerpt from Thornwillow's Centennial Reading closes the segment at the end.

Fev 8, 2022, 5:49 pm

Just got my Other Press "Ulysses Birthday present to myself" edition. First impressions: it's big (of course it is), the illustrations are very cool and very profuse, I don't love the glossy paper (but I never do except in art books), very nice quality for a trade edition,...

If you want an illustrated-against-his-wishes Joyce at a reasonable price, this is the one I believe. More impressions after I thumb through it and of course after a read.

Fev 10, 2022, 6:26 pm

Wow! Aedin Moloney, introducing herself for The Chapter V reading of Ulysses, says she first read the book at 10, starting a life-long obsession. Reading Ulysses at 10!? Impressive.

Also, I gotta say I love an Irish accent when listening to a Joyce reading.

Fev 10, 2022, 11:58 pm

>399 jveezer:

Mine arrived yesterday, and it is quite impressive. Huge! I didn't expect to, but immediately started reading and the illustrations are amazing. Quite happy with this accidental purchase.

Fev 23, 2022, 12:25 pm

Hmmmm...Wonder if TW has discovered the installment method is going to be more complex and unwieldy than they expected? Or the platform they were hoping to use is suddenly charging exorbitant rates? Maybe they will resort to the old fashioned way of mailing invoices? Hope they get it sorted soon as I expect they need the cashflow to keep Ulysses production going on schedule.

Pretty excited to give them my money in exchange for a unique edition of Ulysses.

Mar 18, 2022, 2:30 pm

The subscription links are going out!

Mar 18, 2022, 2:53 pm

>403 FvS:
Yes. Just paid and setup my payment. Remember to login to your TW account before pressing the link in the email.

Abr 19, 2022, 12:13 pm

Can't wait to hear about it when the paper-wrapper subscribers get their first chapter. This is my first half-cloth Thornwillow edition, so I have to wait this time. I would have loved to have a copy of the paper to read from for my slot on the Ulysses BloomsYear reading but since I'm reading from the last chapter that probably would not have been possible. Luckily I have other amazing editions to read from, ha ha...

Also, just got my long desired Salvage Press edition of The Works of Master Poldy. Unfortunately not in time to flash it on the screen during my reading. I would have definitely done that.

Editado: Abr 20, 2022, 11:46 am

I spoke to Luke Pontifell at the press yesterday and while the paper for the edition was months late in arriving and thus the production delayed, it looks like volume one of the 10 volume set is all printed. And volume two is almost done being printed. So we should be seeing copies in the not too distant future.

Maio 13, 2022, 2:34 pm

>406 FvS: Ah, so I shouldn't be concerned that my first volume hasn't arrived yet, although I've been charged for two already? Thanks for the update.

Maio 13, 2022, 4:40 pm

Can't wait to hear the thoughts and impressions when that first chapter/book arrives! Wish I could have afforded a paper-wrapped copy as well as the half-cloth...

Maio 13, 2022, 5:06 pm

Good news on this front. Apparently volumes 1 - 3 are all printed and volume 1 is meant to be finished in the bindery and ready to ship in the next couple of weeks. So the first volume should be going out soon.

They were terribly delayed by supply problems and then some unexpected staff problems. But seems to be sorting out. I called to complain (felt bad after. But still its taking a while, so I thought I would nudge). I'm sure it can't be easy for them right now.

Hopefully they will get caught up after volume 1 is out.

Im looking forward and trust it will be worth the wait.

Maio 13, 2022, 8:18 pm

>409 GodfreyParks: That all makes sense. Thanks for the explanation, GodfreyParks. I was thinking of calling myself, but won't bother them now that I know. I feel for them with all the supply chain disruptions. And I'd rather have a lovely volume that's up to their usual standard, even if it takes a bit longer!

I guess I may have time to finish re-reading the Odyssey now after all...

Editado: Maio 31, 2022, 9:43 pm

So after today's update I don't think those of us who backed non-installment states will see our books this year. Not unexpected but a bit a of shame given that this was targeted at the centennial.

It also looks like Thornwillow has lost a substantial number of staff in a short period of time. Here's hoping that the letterpress printing and binding will not be affected by this (according to the email the losses were in the office and bindery).

Maio 31, 2022, 9:59 pm

What was the update? I got a Dispatch email but didn’t see anything else.

Maio 31, 2022, 10:22 pm

Dear Subscribers

Many apologies for not having posted an update for sometime... but great times are coming.

I am happy to report that the Thornwillow Centennial Edition of Ulysses is typeset in its entirety and volumes 1 through 3 of the ten volume sets are printed. The printing continues to go well. It was terribly delayed by the global paper shortage. Simply put, we couldn't get the paper we needed for the project. But we have it now and things are progressing well again on the press floor.

That said, we also had a number of other setbacks. Several people decided to leave Thornwillow both in the office and bindery. These departures were unexpected and in some cases were given with very little notice. This has left us very short staffed and made it impossible for us to stay on top of our production schedule. We have some excellent people who recently joined the team and have several more coming on board this Summer and Fall. And, happily, now that word has gotten out that we are looking to hire people, we have been getting some promising applications. All things considered, though, it has been a very bumpy time.

The good news is that we expect to start shipping volume one of the installment edition the week after next and volumes 2 and 3 shortly thereafter. I have been reluctant to update and promise a schedule because so much has been going wrong. But this is our plan and short of something else unexpectedly hitting us, we should be able to get back on track.

I am very sorry that this has happened. We are truly doing the best we can and are seeing light ahead of us. The books are looking beautiful and though slow in coming, I am extremely happy with the results.

Thank you as ever for your support of this project and your patience as we navigate the stormy seas. In the meantime, we hope you are enjoying the Bloomsyear Centennial Readings that continue to be released. You can also listen to them as audio only via our Thornwillow Colophon Podcast available where ever you get your podcasts.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have questions at

Highest regards from the press,


Editado: Maio 31, 2022, 11:33 pm

>411 punkzip: Unfortunately, they’ve been struggling with quality control for a bit, though they’ll typically make it right when brought to their attention.

They also had a fairly major shipping snafu with the March Dispatch, Youth, not going out to a significant number of subscribers which they are still in the process of correcting.

It’s a little disheartening that this is the second major staff turnover they’ve spoke publicly about in barely a year-and-a-half, but I won’t speculate on the reasons and certainly wish them the best as they attempt to get everything running smoothly again!

Maio 31, 2022, 11:59 pm

The past ~9 months have been very difficult in this line of work. Paper has been hard to get, shipping prices have doubled, demand has increased but the number of presses, craftspeople, and supply of fine materials has stayed the same. And the freak issues are ever present. (To name one random issue I've been facing with No Reply: Portland has had its rainiest Spring on record (which is saying something) making everything difficult in a paper-based business. DHL had to delay the delivery of flat sheets from Phil Abel by nearly 10 days based on our inability to catch a dry few hours for curbside unloading.)

Savine and Luke are perhaps the hardest-working people I know. In the year that I worked at Thornwillow in Newburgh, I don't think I ever saw them arrive at the factory after 7am or leave before 7pm. Staffing is very difficult for Thornwillow because it's based in Newburgh – hard to retain skilled craftspeople who could easily find a job elsewhere with better weather or more happening. A problem for small town America in general, perhaps.

In my experience the fine/private press community is ridiculously patient, which is perhaps the key ingredient that enables snail-pace work like this. I hope everybody continues to give Thornwillow the patience it needs to succeed. With several staff departures, it may take months and months to simply get back to the place where the press was before. Few people have the skills necessary for this sort of work. Not only does training take a long time, but it drains resources, as new staff burns through materials while learning their craft.

Jun 1, 2022, 12:19 am

>415 grifgon: "Portland has had its rainiest Spring on record (which is saying something) making everything difficult in a paper-based business."

Except printing on dampened paper perhaps? Ha ha....

Editado: Jun 1, 2022, 9:05 am

>415 grifgon: "Staffing is very difficult for Thornwillow because it's based in Newburgh – hard to retain skilled craftspeople who could easily find a job elsewhere with better weather or more happening." Conversely, I wonder if Arion has issues with long term staffing, being located in San Fransisco with it's high cost of living. No doubt they have to pay more, and this may contribute to the relatively high cost of their publications relative to other presses.

As for the one-two person private presses, many of them seem located in quite nice locations.

Jun 1, 2022, 1:27 pm

>417 punkzip: My experience is that their core people are very stable, long-term employees that have found a way to work in a vibrant city despite the costs. Maybe some have to BART in from Oakland now?

The front office seems to have the most turnover, my daughter being one of them, for the usual reasons in U.S. business. And, of course, I assume their apprentice programs probably turn out more craftspeople than they can hire themselves. I wonder about that part but I believe Mark and David of Prototype Press went through AP and Peggy and Lawrence of Foolscap are also alumni. So in that sense, the turnover is a boon for lovers of fine and private press.

Jun 3, 2022, 2:06 pm

>415 grifgon: The location has very little to do with it. Luke and Savine treat employees like trash as soon as they assert any sort of boundry (for example - not working late if they're not getting paid overtime.)

Luke and Savine look down on anyone who isn't educated in the Ivy League, and despite having very little ability to do the actual work themselves don't respect many of their employees. 2/3 of their staff turned over twice in the past two years. That's not due to location, it's because of their attitude. Just because they put in the hours doesn't mean they know how to treat employees.

It's hard for them to retain craftspeople because they either pay them too little after expecting employees to do more than they're hired to do, or they consistently undermine employees knowledge. New staff doesn't burn through materials quite as you're describing - they're either given too much responsibility or not trained because Luke himself hasn't worked a press in who knows how long so there is no one to teach new staff how to use machinery that they're thrown on to.

While I know you remain on good terms with them - during my time there I watched them be racist, sexist, and elitist. Many of my coworkers had the same experience.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 3:13 pm

>419 BusyBodyWilson:

That is hard to hear as a collector, though I'm sure it would be infinitely harder to go through as an employee and to speak up about afterwards.

That is incredibly unacceptable behavior that makes me second guess my support. While it's so hard to make judgements based on message board comments, especially with multiple people chiming in with different information (I know how wishy-washy this sounds, and genuinely apologize for that), I wanted to offer some affirmation ahead of any other tone of response you might recieve since I know situations like these can turn quite heated.

EDIT: I apologize for my numerous edits to my choice of words, which are a result of my own ignorance in this situation.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 2:53 pm

Whether or not posts from disgruntled former employees are suitable for this forum is not something I've thought about yet, but I'd argue that they are relevant in the sense that many collectors want to know what time of work environment they are supporting with their money and of course a problematic work environment may affect our chances of getting the books we paid for - either in a a timely fashion, or with a high standard of quality. I don't have enough information to judge at this point, but I am a bit concerned about the $2350 I paid last year to back Ulysses.

After Busybody's post I looked up Thornwillow on Glassdoor. Their overall rating is not very good, but there are definitely dueling perspectives. One could look at those reviews for other perspectives.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:41 pm

>419 BusyBodyWilson: This is really heartbreaking to hear. I haven't worked at Thornwillow in years, and when I did mostly worked remotely, so I certainly can't speak to your experience, and my guesswork could very well be wrong as you say. UGH – I'm so sorry.

Jun 3, 2022, 3:35 pm

>419 BusyBodyWilson: So sorry for your experience at a place that should be a joyous experience of artistic creation but at the least has to be a place of mutual respect and living wages.

This is why I was so hoping (without really having any hope) Arion Press could have somehow converted into an employee-owned and run Co-op when it's somewhat autocratic leader retired. The first in the fine press world, I'd assume? Imagine what those craftspeople could turn out if they were more than a wage, a mention in the colophon, and a free book.

Jun 3, 2022, 3:39 pm

>423 jveezer: Folio Society, whether or not one considers it fine press, recently became employee owned. Most of the pure play fine presses, or private presses if you prefer, are 1-2 person shops which don't have employees to begin with.

Jun 3, 2022, 3:48 pm

>423 jveezer: Is love to see Arion's financials. Having seen their enormous facility, it's hard to imagine how the rent gets paid even with their prices. I know part of the organization is nonprofit which saves on real estate taxes but still- it's San Francisco.

Jun 3, 2022, 3:50 pm

>425 SDB2012: Are they not a charity?

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 4:20 pm

>420 NathanOv: >421 punkzip: I'd just like to say that you guys and I know that there are two sides to every story, and since none of us are in a position to truly judge the veracity of this new poster's claims (having apparently joined today to give voice to their grievances), I will just say that we have, no doubt, all had experiences in our respective workplaces with co-workers who have certainly felt aggrieved but the overall circumstances were much more complex and nuanced that we would have been led to believe if we had only heard one side of the story. This is also the problem with sites like Glassdoor which I do not believe allows employer statements (though that would probably be problematic from a liability perspective, anyhow).

Jun 3, 2022, 4:29 pm

>427 whytewolf1: I have a former employer who insisted that new employees write a glowing reference on glassdoor as they joined, to try and counteract the large number of negative reviews that had been entered by previous employees (it didn’t work they are still ranked much lower than their peers). I think that if you are a bad employer consistently, then eventually enough people will speak out against you and so ultimately the community (in any field) becomes informed

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 4:35 pm

>427 whytewolf1: "This is also the problem with sites like Glassdoor which I do not believe allows employer statements (though that would probably be problematic from a liability perspective, anyhow)." Glassdoor does allow employer responses. I suggested looking at Glassdoor because there are differing opinions there. I suspect the new poster here also posted on Glassdoor. I mentioned explicitly in my prior post that I don't have enough information to judge at this point. All I know for sure is that Thornwillow has had very substantial employee turnover recently, as they've publicly acknowledged.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 5:09 pm

>427 whytewolf1: I wouldn't want to get into a debate on this since it's not my experience to debate about, but I think when it's a question of racism or misogyny that the big picture and any other side there might be to the story goes out the door, since those behaviors are unacceptable in any context.

You're right - there's no solid evidence, and I wouldn't really expect there to be in a situation like this. However, I find it very believable based on the details they've shared, my own interactions with Thornwillow (I wouldn't be subjected to racism or sexism, but can definitely see red flags in retrospect) and what I've seen with other employers.

I know I'm just adding to the flood of responses, but rather than debating anyone's veracity it's probably best to just let the original post stand and make your own judgements unless anybody else has personal experiences to add or the original poster wants to share further.

Jun 3, 2022, 4:44 pm

>427 whytewolf1: The data overwhelmingly supports underpaid, overworked, exploited workers in the U.S. For me, the onus is on the employer to prove it if they want me to be believed that they create a healthy, fulfilling, livable work environment. No reason for me to doubt BusyBodyWilson on that score. I'd believe it 99 times out of 100. Heard the one about the shortage of restaurant workers? Haha.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 5:24 pm

>430 NathanOv: "my own interactions with Thornwillow (I wouldn't be subjected to racism or sexism, but can definitely see red flags in retrospect)" This is obviously private and I won't inquire further, but it does seem unusual to me that there could be red flags for racism or sexism in the typical interactions collectors have with a press

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:25 pm

>432 punkzip: Sorry if I wasn’t clear - The red flags I personally noticed weren’t related to sexism or racism.

EDIT: Removing the rest of this comment since it just ended up being a distraction from BusyBody’s sharing.

Jun 3, 2022, 5:40 pm

>426 marceloanciano: I'm not sure. The Grabhorn Institute is a 501 c3 nonprofit entity but The Lyra Corporation owns Arion Press and M&H Type. I don't see on the website how Lyra is related to Grabhorn. In Indiana, where I live, it's pretty easy to find out corporate status. I'm going to see if the same is true in California. I've never been solicited for a donation from Arion Press though. If they are a charity, it seems like they could do much better with donations. Even if they are a charity, they still have to pay rent unless someone donated the use of the facilities.

Jun 3, 2022, 5:49 pm

>431 jveezer: it is funny how the best restaurant companies never seem to be short staffed.

Jun 3, 2022, 5:56 pm

>434 SDB2012: There might be some conflating between charities and non profits.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 6:00 pm

I apologize for not knowing how to respond multiple people yet but I will say a few things.

Firstly - I did join today. Thornwillow recently posted about looking for new staff and my main concern is warning future potential employees (particularly young impressionable ones) that it is not a healthy work environment.

Secondly - it was Luke's post and Grif's citing of the location (we've spoken privately, and we're cool) that encouraged me to speak out here as well. Luke cites employee turnover as a great delay and I've seen (I've lurked for years) concerns about quality and price. It occurred to me that many didn't know that turnover has been a problem for the past two years, or that many of the staff is underprepared for Luke and Savine's expectations which definitely has affected the quality. I know when I was collating folios I could see the inconsistency in the printing and could only imagine how that would feel as a buyer.

There was an instance when someone wanted to return a book for that reason and I remember very distinctly them saying "well they're all like that, I'm surprised anyone noticed."

Thirdly - Yes, I have posted on Glassdoor. I also know at least one of the positive posts is from Luke himself. Multiple employees have tried to get it taken down.

Fourthly - Please understand I can't without doxxing myself or other's give too much information publicly, but I'm happy to privately give information or address any concerns. Obviously there's very little way to prove much of this. I wish I'd had the forethought to record my review, or request things be put in writing. Unfortunately it comes at you quick.

This all being said I love letterpress and the idea of affordable fine press prints for new or unknown authors and introducing younger generations to the joy of a book is why I started working there. I'm to hear of presses becoming employee owned - it means they will all truly believe in what they are doing. One of my biggest problems with Thornwillow Press was that we were producing works which hadn't been read by Luke, and he's claiming to love the written word. Their work through the Patron's prize is great - but I wasn't convinced in my time there that it was done for love of the written word, so much as be another way the press could look altruistic.

In such a small community of presses I believe you should all have the opportunity to know what these presses represent and how they treat their employees because all of your support is what keeps these presses in business.

Please let me know if there's anything I can address!

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 6:24 pm

>437 BusyBodyWilson: "I also know at least one of the positive posts is from Luke himself. " I can believe that as I already suspected that previously - one of the positive posts doesn't seem like something any employee would write. "They are the preeminent fine press in the country." "This is the source of the Nile in the fine press world." Wonder who wrote that...

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 7:06 pm

>424 punkzip:
>436 What_What:
per the California Secretary of State, Lyra Corporation (owner of Arion Press and M&H Type) is a for-profit stock corporation.

The Grabhorn Institute is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. It sounds like the apprentices are paid through Grabhorn but Arion and M&H cover the rest of the employees. It's hard to tell much from the website. But, given the little I know of costs and having visited Arion Press and understanding the value of real estate in the bay area, I would love to see their books. I'm not implying anything shady whatsoever. I enjoy learning about different businesses and how their structures impact their ability to thrive in good times and bad. Arion is clearly doing something right.

Jun 3, 2022, 7:05 pm

>437 BusyBodyWilson: thank you for an inside look from a perspective we don't often see here. I don't have any knowledge of running a press but I do have a lot of knowledge of running businesses of various sizes in various industries. People will walk through fire for their leader if they believe the leader truly cares about them and the work. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

Jun 3, 2022, 7:07 pm

>437 BusyBodyWilson: I've been an on and off collector of Thornwillow letterpress books and their monthly dispatch for the past few years. Their "Genesis" Kickstarter was my introduction to the world of fine press. It saddens me to hear about your poor experience working there.

I remember reading some of the negative experiences of other former employees on Glassdoor a while back. Since then I've felt conflicted about whether I should continue supporting Thornwillow's work if that is the work environment they've made for their craftspeople.

Your post today makes me consider whether I will support any of they future projects and dispatches. And I say that as someone currently waiting to receive their next dispatch in order to give it as a graduation gift to my younger brother.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 7:56 pm

>437 BusyBodyWilson: A lot of what you’re describing sounds quite awful if it’s accurate, and I know how debilitating it can be to have a role where you’re unhappy, so you have my sympathy.

The last bit does seem a bit odd. That not all of the published works were read by the owner, and the Patron’s Prize initiative, which publishes the work of women and minorities (as I understand it) is/was done simply to appear to be altruistic. I mean… it’s not wrong for a company to want to do positive things and reap the reputational rewards of that. And is it truly so bad to publish acclaimed works which he hasn’t actually read himself.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 8:21 pm

>442 What_What: "And is it truly so bad to publish acclaimed works which he hasn’t actually read himself." I wouldn't say it's intrinsically bad, but it's probably highly unusual in the fine press world for a press to publish material that the head(s) of the press hasn't read. The idea would be that the press has some real passion for the work itself, which will hopefully carry over into the finished product. For example if I found out that James Freemantle actually never read 1984, that would be an unpleasant surprise, but I can't really imagine that could be the case. It's not like Thornwillow publishes too much for one person to read.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 8:22 pm

>443 punkzip: I can see that. I guess loving the written word doesn’t preclude not reading all the work that gets published. He must have editorial help I imagine. It just seems odd for it to be one of the “biggest problems” in a place allegedly filled with racism, undervalued and underpaid work.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 8:49 pm

>444 What_What: Going to chime in on this to clarify. Specifically he has not read Parable of the Sower, and I'm unclear if he Luke has read the Toni Morrison title. I realize without that information it does seem strange to bring that up. However for me, at the height of the BLM movement to publish a book by a Black author and look for or take any sort of accolade for it, to me was honestly repulsive. That is a fantastic work of literature and to take credit for the decision is well, repulsive, as I said.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:03 pm

>445 BusyBodyWilson: To be quite frank this last statement/accusation seems like a lot of a stretch - and I hope the latest in this thread gets cleaned up before it becomes an emotional blame game full of politics, race and whatever else.

Edited to add: just think of the number of employers who have had incredible amounts of turnover in the last 3 years or so. Now that we've all been exposed to one side of it, perhaps it would behoove those who support Thornwillow to call them and get Luke's direct take on it, too. I assure you that I will do so. It seems the MORE than fair thing to do, since he's not had the advantage of hiding behind anonymity like the poster here has.

Jun 3, 2022, 9:02 pm

>441 toaonua: If you enjoy their work then you should continue to support - I understand that as book lovers they do offer unique works of art you wouldn't find the same anywhere else.

My goal was simply to be transparent about my experience because I did not want Luke's post to add to the "there's a labor shortage" mentality or allow him to act as a victim when the case is that they offer very little, if any, benefit to working for the press and don't want to self-reflect that they may the problem, or at least the majority of it.

Jun 3, 2022, 9:05 pm

>445 BusyBodyWilson: I am so confused by this. You’re repulsed that at the height of the BLM movement he directs his business to publish famous female black authors, something woefully underrepresented in fine press circles?

What part specifically is repulsive? That he “took credit” for it? It’s his business. He, among others, gets credit for everything good it does, and he alone would usually field the fallout when things don’t go well. That’s what it means to own a business.

Jun 3, 2022, 9:10 pm

>446 Objectr: I’m also surprised at some of what I’m reading. On the one hand you can’t criticize Folio Society customer service reps by name over in the devotees group, but a random new account is accusing the owner of a press of racism and mistreating employees, and there’s hardly a call for getting both sides of the story.

Jun 3, 2022, 9:16 pm

>446 Objectr: I was simply addressing part of where and why I saw moments of racism. You're welcome to disagree with me on if it is racisim, but it made me very uncomfortable and contributed to why I left the press. It was done under the guise of elevating Black voices, but I don't feel that can be done genuinely if the owner can't say they've read the book.

Now in fairness I do know Savine read it before allowing it to be Greenlit - but she's not the "face" of Thornwillow.

Adding a second view of the press is not a blame game, but if I'm going to bring racism into it wanted to support why as it's a serious accusation.

Jun 3, 2022, 9:25 pm

>449 What_What: Indeed. Instead we get more of a "oh, I kinda got that vibe when talking to the owner even though he didn't give me that vibe" type answers here, followed shortly by claims of virtue signaling over highlighting racial inequalities. My brain can't keep up with all the antics anymore, and this is frankly disheartening to read overall. I think I'll bow out now.

Jun 3, 2022, 9:26 pm

>449 What_What: Luke is welcome to defend himself. Doxxing a customer service rep is different than addressing issues to someone whose made their name known an dis the public owner of the company.

That being said I'm happy to (privately) prove my employment to you. I've already explained that I made the account due to their outreach looking for new staff. If there was a better place to have posted it, please direct me and I'll happy post there.

You're also welcome to check reddit and tiktok as I regularly comment there under the same handle. As I've said before - I'm attempting to maintain some sense of privacy so that no other former employees are brought into this if they don't want to me, which is why I'm staying away from my personal accounts both here (and instagram)

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:36 pm

>450 BusyBodyWilson: "I was simply addressing part of where and why I saw moments of racism. You're welcome to disagree with me on if it is racisim, but it made me very uncomfortable and contributed to why I left the press."

I'm afraid that you've lost me here. What you are describing I take to be at worst opportunism and insincerity, of which there were likely very many instances of in corporate America during the time. If that's all that you meant by racism, I suspect many if not most here would not interpret it that way. I think the core problem with private/fine press heads not reading the books they publish is fundamentally that is blurs the (hoped for) difference between corporate America and the world of craftspeople who work on passion projects.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:45 pm

>449 What_What: "On the one hand you can’t criticize Folio Society customer service reps by name over in the devotees group, but a random new account is accusing the owner of a press of racism and mistreating employees, and there’s hardly a call for getting both sides of the story."

Disagree here. A FS customer service rep cannot easily come on here and defend themselves, very likely that would not be allowed at all by their superiors. Nothing prevents Luke from defending himself here. There is a huge power differential between a customer service rep and the head of the press.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:42 pm

>451 Objectr: If your section in quotes is referring to my comments (and maybe it’s not), I’m not quite sure I follow.

I was sharing that what >452 BusyBodyWilson: has shared definitely lines up with the impression (or “vibe” as you put it) I’ve gotten from some of my own interactions.

I honestly never know what additional evidence people want in situations like this. I can’t imagine another side of the story that would clear everything up like one big misunderstanding, and an outright denial doesn’t help either.

The fact that other people have shared similar experiences and it lines up with other concerns about the press is about the strongest support I can imagine.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:41 pm

>451 Objectr: Agreed, I was completely mystified by >430 NathanOv:’s and >433 NathanOv:’s comments, though it wouldn’t be the first time. Racism, attributable to publishing authors at a time when their lack of representation is elevated in society, was confirmed by a phone call that had nothing to do with racism. That’s it for me tonight folks.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:48 pm

>450 BusyBodyWilson: >455 NathanOv: I guess we're just going to gloss over the fact that in 2019 (long before the height of BLM) Thornwillow decided to publish a book on Frederick Douglass by eminent scholar and civil rights activist Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and that even though that book sold relatively poorly, in the next couple of years they went on to publish the work of two women of color who were true masters of their craft and who had been ignored up to that point by the fine press community overall.

Further, of the seven Patrons Prize authors announced and published (or at least, concerning the seventh, solicited), so far, six of seven have been women and four of those six have been women of color from diverse backgrounds.

As a proud center-left liberal, all of this makes me wonder if conservatives are indeed right about us, that the Left eats its own. Because, apparently, it's not enough to do the right things, but one must do them for only the purest of reasons and with no expectation or acceptance of any positive regard which may redound to one's benefit for doing so.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 9:50 pm

>456 What_What: Okay, my last response on this - I did not make any claims of racism in that comment, and particularly stated that I could not speak to that.

I mentioned an odd interaction that seemed relevant to the conversation.

I hate the phrase “virtue signaling,” but it just came across as very insincere, though mainly just felt awkward at the time.

That’s it - it was a small anecdote to clarify an earlier point, and I don’t want it to distract from the bigger issue.

>457 whytewolf1: This isn’t a political thing, it’s about proper treatment of people - namely employees, not the authors being published.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:49 pm

>458 NathanOv: "This isn’t a political thing, it’s about proper treatment of people - namely employees, not the authors being published."

And yet your commentary concerning your interactions with Luke went beyond the proper treatment of people (about which neither of us actually has any firsthand experience, specific to the environment at Thornwillow) and did go into politics and the selection of authors.

But I guess we're just going to have different perspectives on this

Jun 3, 2022, 9:56 pm

>457 whytewolf1: "all of this makes me wonder if conservatives are indeed right about us, that the Left eats its own."

Of course we are right about you. Apparently, you have been in denial about it. The history of the left is replete with examples.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:00 pm

>459 whytewolf1: There was no mention of politics at all …

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:05 pm

To lower the temperature here and hopefully stay away from politics/culture wars, the original question was why Thornwillow has had so much employee turnover in the past few years. We have one perpective from a former employee here, as well as the material on Glassdoor - which is conflicting - but it seems quite likely that Luke did write one of the positive posts. Hopefully Luke will provide his perspective here.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:04 pm

>460 ultrarightist: lol Oh, ultrarightist...

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:09 pm

>462 punkzip: If I were Luke, frankly, I would not even consider wading into this current cesspool of recriminations.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:10 pm

Clicked back onto this thread with 30 unread posts, only to find it's turned into........ politics? 😂

1. BusyBody's experience should be heard and taken seriously.

2. Luke and/or Savine should be heard and taken seriously if one or both choose to jump on and comment.

That's all, really.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:08 pm

>464 whytewolf1: Now there you and I agree. I enjoin the moderator to delete this thread in its entirety, or at the very least purge the messages since the recriminations commenced.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:09 pm

Oh my goodness. I have been away for a week and returned to library thing to find this extraordinary exchange. Wow. I will do as someone in the long chain above suggested, and call Luke this weekend.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:15 pm

>466 ultrarightist: I agree. (See, reasonable people on opposite sides can find sensible common ground!) Though I would not presume to tell the current Mod what he should do, if I were running this forum, I'd purge this entire discussion. I honestly don't think it's an appropriate topic of discussion for this forum.

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:23 pm

>437 BusyBodyWilson: "Secondly - it was Luke's post and Grif's citing of the location..."

To which post do you refer as Luke's? I trust you are not mistaking my post >413 ultrarightist: where I simply copied and pasted the contents of an email to subscribers from Luke as being a post from Luke himself.

I rather doubt that Luke would describe himself as an 'ultrarightist,' nor would any Ivy League graduate of the last 30 years. I am most definitely not Ivy League material, and I mean that as distinct praise of myself.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:20 pm

>469 ultrarightist: I suspect the KS message from Luke which you reposted.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:31 pm

>470 punkzip: Yes, I realized that after I made my post.

Jun 3, 2022, 10:34 pm

>469 ultrarightist: "...distinct praise of myself." Sounds like Ivy League material to me! 😉 😂

Editado: Jun 3, 2022, 10:47 pm

>472 grifgon: Ha! Nice rejoinder.

Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 12:36 am

I'm so glad I missed this whole exchange. It does make me a bit sad to think that some presses might be less than equitable to their staff, as I'd like to think anyone doing artisan work appreciates the value of human talent. I know it's naive to believe that's a universal truth, but I would like to believe it predominates.

>460 ultrarightist: Just to add, I'd say that autocannibalism is more an attribute of political extremes, rather than one side or the other of the spectrum. The farther out one goes towards either end, the more rigorous the "purity tests" become to determine if someone is True or Other. As for myself, my position on the political spectrum is indigo, with frequent outbursts of orange.

Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 8:47 am

The recent comments prompted me to read about Thornwillow and Newburgh. According to this article from 2012, they had 40 employees at the time, which is a lot more than I would have thought. I wonder how many employees they have now? Many of their employees at the time were Newburgh locals. I've not met Luke, but from the article and other things I've read, Luke seems to be a man from a different era, and I can see how he might be quite out of sync with millennial or Gen Z employees.

Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 9:39 am

>475 punkzip: The plan for the Thornwillow Maker's Village is inspiring.

Edit: Thanks for sharing the article. I was surprised to say the least that there was once a Thornwillow boutique at the St Regis in Manhattan. That sounds pretty cool. The bespoke three piece suit description and Harvard being named twice gave me a chuckle. Does anyone care where a person already established in a career went to college? But to the point, it's shocking that there was enough money in the business at that time to pay for bespoke suits and a residence in Manhattan.

Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 9:49 am

>476 SDB2012: In our fine press community it's easy to think of Thornwillow only as another fine press, but it's really quite significant as a business outside of that. Thornwillow was once the primary stationer for Montblanc and Cartier. The Lincoln Bedroom at the White House is furnished with Thornwillow books. Four presidents have given them as state gifts. Thornwillow used to have its own boutiques in New York, Washington, and San Francisco. It's a legacy business for sure!

Important to keep in mind that Thornwillow's current publishing agenda represents an intentional democratization of its work. It has chosen to pursue affordable letterpress for readers of all stripes, as opposed to the old model of the most exclusive highest end books and yacht stationery.

Jun 4, 2022, 9:47 am

>475 punkzip: Interesting article, although it doesn't help my opinion regarding Thornwillow. It's funny what one imagines versus reality - I always pictured the company as a fine press publisher in a poor NY town whose staff and owner were blue-collared and lived in or around Newburgh only to find the owner lives in or outside of Manhattan, Harvard educated, wears expensive clothes, seems a little pretentious and openly wants to be seen as such (I know it's unfair to judge based on these sources,) and, from whether the above poster's allegations are true or not, it's certainly not a great place to work since the company openly admits people keep quitting. If these allegations are true it would be discouraging to say the least. Ignorance sure is bliss.

On a side rant, I think Thornwillow has bar none the worst communication out of any private press. I can't remember when I purchased Morrison's full-leather and maybe I got one email in a 1-2 year span and still have absolutely no idea when I will receive the book. This also makes me worry quite a bit about my half-leather Ulysses version as well. Compare that with George Cochrane's La Divina Commedia, who worked with Thornwillow on Inferno, and not only do I love the book but the communication couldn't have been better.

On a side note I live a few hours from Newburgh, have been there twice and the town certainly isn't as bad as the article makes it seem. I actually walked by Thornwillow's headquarters before collecting fine press books and the location is far from dodgy.

Jun 4, 2022, 9:50 am

>477 grifgon: Small correction: The Pontifells have lived in Newburgh for ten years!

Jun 4, 2022, 10:02 am

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Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 10:13 am

For those who are put off by how Thornwillow's founder comes across in this article, it may be worth keeping in mind that this is a 10-year old puff piece written for the high-end travel and lifestyle magazine Departures which, among other things, is distributed for free to all American Express Platinum cardholders. So in terms of the audience that this is intended to appeal to, ya know...

And anyone here accusing someone else of being pretentious is a little rich (pardon the pun) considering that we're all here because we are extraordinarily discriminating about the outrageous-priced handmade books that we all buy.

Jun 4, 2022, 10:11 am

>481 whytewolf1: Thanks for the context. So it's a bit like those old Dewar's Profiles, in terms of going for selective emphasis.

Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 10:17 am

>481 whytewolf1: I don't know Luke at all, but could it be that the way the article presents him is how he wanted himself to be perceived (at least at the time) - as an aristocratic throwback to an earlier era -to appeal to the type of person who might purchase his products at the St. Regis? You don't dress like that by accident.

Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 10:21 am

>482 Shadekeep: Absolutely. As one of the many here who has spoken to Luke on the phone, he may dress in three-piece suits and come across as refined (hardly a fault), but he's very friendly and completely down to earth.

>483 punkzip: That's a fair point and is probably part of it, as well. If you walk into Cartier, for instance, how would you generally expect the staff to dress and act?

Jun 4, 2022, 10:50 am

>479 grifgon: Thanks the color. I had no idea there were Thornwillow Editions in the Lincoln Bedroom. The idea of shopping for fine press books in a boutique would be a dream but it's hard to imagine it being financially viable especially for a single press even as a marketing tool.

As someone that lives around 90 minutes from his businesses, I'm sure living near the business is a huge advantage for quality of life.

Jun 4, 2022, 12:03 pm

>471 ultrarightist: Yes! Sorry. I'm as has been pointed out, new to the forum and didn't realize that's what that was!

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 2:43 pm

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Editado: Jun 4, 2022, 5:48 pm

>487 FvS: "Luke is not a racist — the list of books he has published over the course of many years are clear proof that he is anything but a racist."

"Luke is not a sexist. Again, his staff is mostly women. He publishes lots of books by women, many of them addressing issues of sexism like their current Dispatch title "The Girling Season". What possibly points to him being sexist?

I am not calling anyone anything, or making any allegations - I would just urge caution with that sort of argument. It's very much in the vein of "how can I be racist when I have x friends?" which is a very prevalent but damaging fallacy.

People can do positive, impactful things in one arena (often, their most public ones) and still behave terribly in others.

Jun 4, 2022, 6:18 pm

>487 FvS: The situation might be more nuanced than you think, with more details. You may want to consider that there might substantial generational differences in what is perceived as racist or sexist.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 6:40 pm

Why this thread has been allowed to go on like this is beyond me: Baseless conjecture and innuendo about one of the more popular presses on this forum for 50 posts straight.

All of this was brought about by the defamatory comments of (by his own admission) a disgruntled former employee who immediately starting throwing around vague accusations of sexism, elitism, and racism. This is the way my insipid generation operates when something doesn't go their way: "I think What's-His-Face is racist; therefore, no one should support his business. Now it's up to him to prove he's not." Lo and behold! It might work again!

I am embarrassed that anyone who actually has/had an interest in buying TW books would think at all differently because of this anonymous person who didn't feel as though he got what he deserved for doing ___ wait, what was it he did at TW again? Oh, but he cannot give any specific examples for fear of doxxing! The barbarians of contrary letterpress collectors would surely be at his gate should he actually have any examples to support his allegations.

Why should a businessman whose press republishes works have to read every one of those books? TW is not an original press, as I understand it. And it's not as though the people at the helm here are locking up the chase or even proofing. These are business people. I was under the impression that people who bought TW books knew that and were cool with it.

I have no idea why anyone should care whether a business owner is elitist. Have you met people in charge of large businesses? They might be humble, but none of them thinks his workers are his equals. If there is some fantasy that the world of fine press is somehow different, I would point you to the many, many very good-great printers of the last 100 years who embodied elitism in ways that make this case look quaint. Probably the only truly non-elitist printer of the top tier was the Stanbrook Abbey Press, and they were all nuns.

I'm going back to interjecting random factoids about Walter Hamady and K.K. Merker into other threads.

FWIW, I have absolutely zero stake in Thornwillow. My money goes to dead printers' estates and their book-dealers on the secondary market.

Edited to elide anything that may be considered "abusive."

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 6:31 am

>490 DenimDan: I think this is very offensive. You can make similar points without being abusive. As the initial posts were about a delay to the work being published and the reason given the high turnover in staff that they suffer, the posts don’t deserve to be removed as they help give colour to this situation. Some claims have been made that are unverified, but any prospective buyer should be taking into account the way employees are treated as a constant high turnover of staff may lead to future delays in other works

ETA: I agree with your point about elitism, and agree that those in charge of a work don’t need to have read every book they publish (though I would hope that they do read the work after they have published it!)

Jun 5, 2022, 10:46 am

>490 DenimDan: A little harsh, no? And quite angry... this is just an online forum, take a deep breath.

You can browse and buy anything you want in regards to your moral standards. When purchasing products, the way people, owners and companies come across does influence my business decisions. As for Thornwillow, will it prevent me from buying their books in the future? Probably not - although waiting over a year for a product with no completion date in sight is forcing my hand a little bit. And whether the commentator above is vindictive, truthful, or even a troll, the optics still don't look good on however you decide to view the matter. If the commentator is being truthful he/she has every right to express their feelings and experiences. I certainly wouldn't post my name on a message board when attacking a company many people enjoy as demonstrated above.

As for not reading every book... come on, we're talking about one book a year on average. Anyone can read Parable of the Sower or Song of Solomon in one to two days.

And I disagree about business owners and elitism. The vast majority behave like they have no equals; I have seen far too many subconsciously (and the rare few consciously) recognize and view as a threat others who are more talented than themselves. It's mostly all a farce to be honest... the blind leading the blind.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 2:39 pm

>488 NathanOv: In my opinion, his public record speaks for itself both in the titles he’s chosen to publish and in the diversity of his hiring practices. I have been a steady customer for 20 years and had many interactions with Luke and his team (which until about 2 years ago was very steady and consistent. Even now he has employees who have been with him for 10+ years. All of the ones who left have been there a short time. Until recently his customer service has been excellent and projects delivered on time).

There is nothing to suggest that in his private life he is anything different. I cannot imagine that by day he publishes Toni Morrison and works with minority kids from the newburgh school, and then by night he is a racist.

But, to your point, you never know….

So, What would give you the comfort to accept that he is not a sexist and a racist? What do you need to see that would get you to accept him at face value? Or anyone for that matter?

Jun 5, 2022, 12:16 pm

1. I believe (from what I know) of why some of these are published many reasons were either opportunistic, or had to deal with his love of history and these people's overlap with the town of Newburgh (which I do believe he possesses) and not to elevate Black voices. There is a difference between not being racist and being anti-racist. I believe the BLM movement demands anti-racism and I believe his reasons were opportunistic and not to elevate Black voices. That being said - I agree these works and people deserve the attention. But to do it without reading for example Parable of the Sower - can you truly be celebrating and elevating? To me no, but you may find that acceptable and I'm not trying to change your mind on that. He is only part of a group that decides the Patron's Prize so that is also something to consider, not that it provides context one way or another.

2. I actually believe that while old fashion, Luke is not sexist though at times may be naive to the generational perception difference in some of his statements. To assume that he is the only person I'm referring to in this post is in fact - sexist. Savine is the one that during my time there I experienced the sexism from most acutely. She can be direct, but also cutting and full of comments that are insults she hides under that directness and not only about work but about personal things such as intelligence, religion, and choices about having a family.

3. Again, Luke is yes Elitist, but you're ignoring the idea of Savine in this. She, who gives preference IN TREATMENT of employees to those that are from Ivy League schools, or from similar economic backgrounds as she is. Having quality for standards is not what I consider Elitist. Treating employees who don't have a PHD as stupider than she is with no evidence to prove that is what I consider Elitist.

4. All I'm going to address is that you're over-estimating how these organizations populated by people OF SIMILAR BACKGROUND AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC status vet people and organizations.

5. All I will address, because how Luke dresses is immaterial - Savine absolutely does not care about anything other than this: Thornwillow was losing money because of disorganization before she started there. Her only mission is to get them making money so Luke's dream/legacy doesn't die. While that in and of itself is admirable - she does not care about her employees lives - only that they're being productive enough to get and keep her in the black. If she did starting salary would be more than 35k a year with no benefits.

I've had current and former employees reach out to me expressing a sense of relief that someone is saying something because they wish someone had told them before they got there. As I said earlier - what made me upset was Luke citing staffing issues and potentially making himself a victim. There is a constant lack of self-reflection when it comes to their management skills and how they're perceived by their employees.

I do hope you update us after you speak with Luke. I would encourage you to also speak with Savine and ask her why employees only deserve a raise if they're trying to have children, because that's what I was asked and told would be an acceptable reason to ask for a raise.

Yes I may have a bit of an axe to grind - but my axe is the same axe that many of the employees (former and current) have. I encourage them to speak out as well if they're comfortable, but their private support of me is enough to know that I've done something worthwhile by brining this to light. I hope that you can understand at least that part of it.

Jun 5, 2022, 12:24 pm

>490 DenimDan: Why do you assume I'm a man?

Again, happy to message you privately and tell you what I did and my experiences (as I've done already for people in this thread) but why would I doxx myself? Why would I open myself to Luke or Savine calling me/emailing me/harassing me? Please give me a good reason to do so.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 1:11 pm

>493 FvS: I think things can get extra heated when we say "so-and-so IS a racist" or "so-and-so IS a sexist." I'd have trouble believing just about anyone I know who claimed they'd never done or said any racist or sexist thing out of ignorance. That doesn't make that their identity.

However, it becomes most problematic when it's either 1) intentional, 2) a pattern of behavior and / or failure to learn and adapt, or 3) institutional and /or negatively impacting others.

Also, my take from BusyBody's original comments (though they're free to correct me) is that it was a seperate concern to the employee mistreatment they raised as their primary concern, but now unfortunately has become the main point of discussion.

Comparing someone raising an allegation of workplace mistreatment, where 70-90% of employees in various polls report experiencing some level of abuse at a past employer, to Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers is incredibly distasteful.

I hope you can see that you and >490 DenimDan:'s response to the concern raised, whether anonymous or not, and whether credible or not, is inappropriate in-and-of itself.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 4:24 pm

>496 NathanOv: I agree with you that I got overheated in my response to your earlier post so edited it down. Some of my remarks were not helpful.

I still feel it is grossly unfair to label him a racist or sexist… period. Really really really unfair. He doesnt deserve that. He doesn’t even deserve a hint of that. The work he does in supporting black and women writers is incredibly important in countering racism and sexism. He should be commended for this. Not dragged down for it.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 2:21 pm

>497 FvS: "I still feel it is grossly unfair to label him a racist or sexist… period."

The problem might be that you are concluding that Luke is being labelled a racist or sexist without inquiring further about the details. You might be attacking a straw person and might be jumping to unwarranted conclusions about what exactly is being alleged. Perhaps further inquiry, as well as reading the material that busybody just posted recently, might clarify the issue.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 2:52 pm

I would like to state for the record that I am so over this whole ridiculous discussion-- which I still maintain has no real place on a forum like this.

What are we going to be discussing next? The comparative employee salaries and benefits packages of various fine presses and their appropriateness or lack thereof? Which fine presses are sufficiently supportive of our favorite social causes and which are not? And what the relative consequences should be for those who are not?

This entire discussion is predicated on facts and motivations that are unknown and largely unknowable to anyone here except those directly involved. If I wanted to spend my time immersed in other people's personal drama, I would have spent much more time following the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial. But I actually come here to talk about books, instead. I thought that was the case for most others here, but perhaps I'm wrong about that.

Jun 5, 2022, 3:22 pm

>499 whytewolf1: you are absolutely right. There is no place for this here. As a result I deleted my post which was intended to be a defense of Thornwillow and only made matters worse.

I apologize to the group for my part in taking us away from the purpose of the forum.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 3:41 pm

>499 whytewolf1: I think Punkzip made a great case in one of the first responses about how this is relevant to the output of a press and our decisions as collectors.

Also, people were already discussing the employee turnover (even outright asking as to the cause), and how this has impacted the quality of service and products, so if those questions were appropriate, then I think we have to admit that BusyBody's initial answer was as well.

Where I think things have gotten "out-of-hand" is the extensive debate, and the tone it's starting to take. I agree with those who've said that if anyone at Thornwillow wishes to respond, they have the right to share their story side of the story. While I personally find the original post quite believable, I also agree that there's not definitive evidence to judge any indiviual based on, and the best we can do is make our own personal judgements based on what's been shared by BusyBody, customers on this forum, the proprietors of Thornwillow in the past, and other employess via other sites.

While it's absolutely appropriate to share support of someone sharing a heavy and difficult experience, and it's also fine to share one's own experiences with a press or publisher as long as it doesn't diverge into unfounded personal attacks, this is 100% not the forum to determine the credibility of an allegation.

But as a collector, wouldn't you at the very least want to know that allegation was out there?

Jun 5, 2022, 3:29 pm

>500 FvS: I would actually like to thank you, FvS, for your efforts to inject some sanity into this discussion. But as you say, your efforts simply added fuel to the fire, as did my own early efforts along the same lines.

Editado: Jun 5, 2022, 4:21 pm

>502 whytewolf1: I remain a firm and ardent supporter of the press. I will not engage further in this discussion. I remain confident that Luke and Savine are honorable people doing the best they can to pursue a beautiful and important mission. It is clearly not easy.

Editado: Jun 6, 2022, 10:32 am

I for one will not be calling Luke. I don't think he should be spending the time answering multiple phone calls from collectors at this point, particularly given the recent staff exodus. I will send him an email and either ask for a response to me or posted here. And I do think a public statement would be helpful. Hopefully he can come up with a single response which he can cut and paste if he doesn't choose to make a public statement, so he can spend his time addressing the current issues facing the press rather than fielding phone calls

Jun 6, 2022, 10:47 am

>494 BusyBodyWilson: "I believe the BLM movement demands anti-racism and I believe his reasons were opportunistic and not to elevate Black voices."

Are you saying that Luke should acquiesce to the demands of BLM? Or that his 'failure' to do so merits opprobrium?

Editado: Jun 6, 2022, 10:57 am

>505 ultrarightist: Please no more politics/culture war here. The core issues originally raised still need be addressed (e.g. are employees being adequately trained? How are employees treated by management? Why has TW had 2 large staff exoduses recently? Why are there multiple negative Glassdoor reviews dating to 2015?). These sorts of political/culture war discussions benefit no one, definitely not Thornwillow..

Jun 6, 2022, 10:56 am

>506 punkzip: Others have chimed in, so why shouldn't I? Further, the administrator/moderator has not bothered to weigh in, so it seems the discussion is fair game.

Also, my question is relevant to collectors, or at least it is very relevant to me as a collector. If this persons's answer to either or both of my questions is yes, then I have a much clearer picture as to the mentality and motivations of the accuser, which in turn greatly strengthens my resolve to support Thornwillow.

Editado: Jun 6, 2022, 11:05 am

Have you considered that the former employee's other accusations could be valid or not, independent of their political orientation and motivations?

Jun 6, 2022, 11:02 am

>508 punkzip: I assume you intended to direct that question at me, rather than at yourself. The answer is yes, and it changes nothing.

Editado: Jun 6, 2022, 11:12 am

>507 ultrarightist: I don't want to put words in anyones mouth, but have a very hard time believing the proprietors at Thornwillow, even with everything that's been said about them, would agree with or appreciate your current line of defense ...

Jun 6, 2022, 11:37 am

I think it's perfectly reasonable to discuss a press's inner workings here. I'm not going to get drawn into a discussion about whether anyone involved is racist/sexist etc., but for one, I prefer my money going to places where it's being distrubuted fairly to the people doing the work.

It matters both for moral reasons (you may not care, but I do!) and for practical ones — in situations where the workplace is unstable enough that turnover is very high, the chances of a preorder being fulfilled in a timely fashion is severely impaired.

A difficult workplace and high turnover also impacts the quality of the craftsmanship, and since this is the fine press forum, where we collectively obsess over extremely high-end work ... well, I probably don't have to finish that thought.

Given the delay to Ulysses and the posts in this thread this seems to be a reasonable interpretation of what's happened at Thornwillow, but it's obviously not the only interpretation, and I look forward to hearing Luke's side of things.

Editado: Jun 8, 2022, 5:29 pm

I emailed Luke and received the public statement below, which he gave me permission to post in full here:

For 37 years we have dedicated ourselves to the arts and crafts of the written word, to making beautiful books that we believe contribute to the community of ideas, and to teaching and perpetuating the crafts that make this work possible. Our commitment to quality, craftsmanship and our customers has never wavered. If, at any time, you feel that a book you received does not live up to expectations, don't hesitate to get in touch with me directly.

I am deeply saddened by the recent posts on the Fine Press Forum that attack me personally and the enterprise my wife and I have dedicated our lives to building. In response, I will say that our personal values and our values as an organization are on full display in the choice of publications we have created, the diversity of our hiring practices, and the type of community engagement we actively pursue. Further, as an organization whose primary goals are to perpetuate the traditional bookmaking crafts and to elevate and make accessible beautiful examples of the written word, we are proud that the educational backgrounds of our team members range from those with graduate degrees to those who did not finish high school because our only real concern is with the quality of their work, their character, and their commitment to the craft. And those are also the same qualities we consider when it comes to increases in salary and advancement within the organization.

Regarding the salaries that we pay, they are in line with other salaries in the publishing and art worlds. Moreover, they are part of the job posting when candidates apply. The main problems resulting from the recent turnover are due to the nature of our training program which has been structured to be a two-year program that applicants commit to after a three month trial period to see if they like it. We believe that learning a craft takes time. Like playing the piano, learning to become a binder or letterpress printer takes lots of practice. Unfortunately during the last year, several people have broken their commitments to stay for the two year period and left in some cases with little notice. People left for various personal reasons — for example to pursue other interests, to go to graduate school, to accept fellowships, to raise children, or very simply, to earn more money. That said, the nature of the workplace has changed dramatically - everywhere - over the last two years. We are addressing the concerns of this new climate by now offering flexible work schedules, opportunities for remote work in areas where that is possible, and expanding the affordable housing we offer in the neighborhood of the press.

We are disheartened to learn the full extent of how challenging it was for this former employee to work at Thornwillow. While recollections vary, the comments posted are taken very seriously and will be addressed internally. Thornwillow is a small community of dedicated craftspeople and we truly care that past employees look back favorably on their time here.

To end where I began, we remain absolutely committed to making books of the highest quality. If anyone ever receives a book that is not to their satisfaction, please let me know.


Luke Pontifell
President & Publisher
Thornwillow Press

Jun 9, 2022, 4:00 pm

>512 punkzip: Thank you for posting Luke's response. Nothing that has been alleged or written prompts me to cease or reduce my support of the press, although I am concerned with sustaining product quality in the wake of major staff turnover. Hopefully, Luke and team can manage it. If there are significant delays to Ulysses, then I trust that Luke will be transparent and forthright with the subscribers about it.

Editado: Jun 9, 2022, 4:17 pm

This whole thing is absurd. I am 100% sure that the owners of Thornwillow are flawed people, BUT SO ARE THE REST OF THE PUBLISHERS! If we would to stop supporting companies with owners who said deplorable things, and treated some of their employees like crap, the entire world economy would collapse.

Jun 9, 2022, 4:34 pm

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>514 Undergroundman: I have a lot to say so this part is just to you: it is NEVER, NEVER okay for an employer to treat an employee like crap. It has an affect on the whole workforce. It makes all the employees fearful of all sorts of things and is a way for employers to emotionally manipulate their employees. Shame on you for saying it shouldn't matter. Shame on you for not thinking that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

Jun 9, 2022, 4:37 pm

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>515 BusyBodyWilson: Boo hoo. Thornwillow is finer without a whiner like you.

Editado: Jun 9, 2022, 5:57 pm

>514 Undergroundman: "If we would to stop supporting companies with owners who said deplorable things, and treated some of their employees like crap, the entire world economy would collapse."

I wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment. No business that "treats their employees like crap" deserves to survive in my opinion.

Editado: Jun 9, 2022, 7:20 pm

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Jun 9, 2022, 7:14 pm

>518 What_What: Why don’t you address that to me? Since I’m the one who you’re questioning. I haven’t had time to type a full response but I will. I think it’s better that people address whatever vitriol n you have to me since I’m the one who you’re really questioning.

Jun 9, 2022, 7:14 pm

>514 Undergroundman: I know you're trying to support the Press, but although things have been alleged, there is no actual proof of anything improper being said or done.

Editado: Jun 9, 2022, 7:51 pm

>519 BusyBodyWilson: I didn't actually hear any vitriol being directed toward you, at least not by What_What. But it is unclear to me why you should be granted a more expansive benefit of the doubt than Luke. You certainly sound sincere in your feelings about things you allege transpired during your time at the press. But Luke also sounds sincere in the excellent points that he makes. How are those of us who are not personally privy to the inner workings of this or any business supposed to judge happenings that are not objectively verifiable? It is 100% true that recollections (and perceptions) do often vary.

You may not have been in a public-facing job at the press, but what if you had a personal interaction with a customer over the phone, and then that customer complained to management about things that you said and insinuations that you allegedly made and what was perceived as your poor attitude in dealing with the customer? Based on the customer's word alone, should management reprimand you or even fire you? What about if your account of things differed, perhaps substantially? Should they automatically believe the customer because they were the one that "called foul" or expressed aggrievement?

It seems to me that you have had your say and spoken your truth, as we now say, and Luke has responded in a way that he no doubt felt was appropriate and spoken his, and other than that, there doesn't seem to be much more to see here.

Jun 9, 2022, 9:25 pm

>521 whytewolf1: There was a comment made that was unnecessarily snarky by What What to another user on the forum asking what they thought now because I've got no way to verify my story but Luke answered. My comment was defensive of NathanOV, because all he did was believe employees shouldn't be treated like crap. Which is an opinion I believe he holds independently of the support of Thornwillow, and is an opinion I hold independently of any of my employers, and of myself as a manager.

I'm not sure what your scenario serves to prove because the same could be held in reverse of Luke. Also, employee to customer is extremely different than boss to employee.

If I told my name and my roles there would that give me more credibility. If I showed you my W-2? I'm unclear on why you seem to think that just because Luke spoke that means that anything I said is unfounded. I'm not trying to be snarky, I truly want to know what information I could provide to be taken seriously? If one of my former colleagues came onto this forum in support of me would that be enough? If I listed all the projects I worked on and the issues in detail would that be enough? There seems a fine line between stating my side and experience and nitpicking or dissecting every event but it seems without that you would never believe me credible.

Jun 9, 2022, 9:39 pm

>512 punkzip: Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for sharing it without bias.

If Luke can make Thornwillow a more equitable to employees then working there would be all the things that Luke wants the press to be.

Editado: Jun 9, 2022, 10:41 pm

>522 BusyBodyWilson: Let me be clear, I have no reason to believe you were not being truthful when you stated that you had worked at Thornwillow.

"I truly want to know what information I could provide to be taken seriously?" But that's just it, I don't think you're unserious, but in all honesty, I have no reason to either believe or not believe what you're saying. You certainly seem to be sincere, and I do take that into account, but because one is sincere doesn't mean that everything one says is either unbiased or, looking at things objectively, the whole truth. And when allegations of bad behavior and untruthfulness are levied against someone who has a very good reputation of long standing, we have to take that into account, as well.

The reason I brought up the hypothetical scenario about the customer interaction that led to a complaint against the employee speaks to that. The point wasn't that there is a perfect analogy between employer and employee and between employee and customer, but to ask the question: If there is an allegation of bad behavior made, are we always automatically to assume the veracity of the alleger and to assume the "guilt" of the other party and then to move to automatically sanctioning that other party?

So, in our situation here, I just don't think that you deserve *more* credibility than the other party.

"I'm not trying to be snarky, I truly want to know what information I could provide to be taken seriously?" Again, that's just my point, there isn't any, really, is there? Not objectively speaking. We're not conducting a trial here and having both sides present evidence.

You came here because you had something to say, some experiences to relate, and you were heard. Some were inclined to believe you, and some were not. One of the members asked Luke for his response which the member then relayed. Luke had some things to say, also, and was heard. You've both made assertions from your own recollections and your own points of view.

People will draw their own conclusions from what has been said. But other than that, I'm not sure what's left to discuss. We have conflicting claims and points of view. It doesn't seem that there is any way to bring things to a resolution or what that would even look like. As outside parties to these happenings, members of this forum are just going back and forth about hearsay from each party.

All that being said, I do absolutely believe that you did not have a good experience working at Thornwillow, and for that, you honestly have my sincere sympathies. From what I can see, you seem to be a person of passion and ideals, and I think the other thread you started, soliciting opinions about the feelings and experiences of collectors here, speaks well of you and demonstrates a deep interest in the work you were (and perhaps still are) engaged in. I do wish you the best of luck and success in your current and future work and hope you soon find the type of work environment and job satisfaction that you were hoping for.

Jun 9, 2022, 10:59 pm

>524 whytewolf1: Ahh, apologies. I interpreted it (perhaps I am a bit on the defense after other things said) as you dismissing my experience.

You are right, and I thought about adding to a difference response because you're right, there is no reason. Additionally as I've mentioned other places - Luke is the face of this but much of my conflict was with Savine and I don't think it's fair for him to have to defend his wife because it will inevitably be impossible for him to separate their personal relationship with a business one.

You are right, this is not a trial. I said my original goal was to provide my experience and yes, I'll admit, the idea of Luke painting the press as a victim did truly frustrate me. But again, I was privy to experiences and conversations that are not mine to share so my opinion and expectation of his and Savine's way of seeing themselves in the world is colored by that. So no, in response to the scenario - not to sanction them but simply to encourage customers dig into the next level when you see something like staff turnover.

I appreciate your sympathies, and assessments. It was heartbreaking because I truly, truly love printing and was very disheartened by my experiences and the other thread did really change the way I pictured the fine press consumers and I will admit for the better. Luckily I am very happy with my current employment and appreciative of your well wishes.

Jul 23, 2022, 2:43 pm

Looks like the first paper-wrapped Ulysses is shipping. Interested to hear impressions once anyone recieves it...

Ago 26, 2022, 11:42 am

My understanding is that volumes 1 and 2 have shipped and volume 3 is close to going out. So far I am loving this edition. It is doing exactly what I hoped it would— get me to read it. Nice elegant type with generous margins. Manageable installment lengths. I have the version with paste paper wrappers which are fabulous. Also love the opening initials.

Ago 30, 2022, 6:09 am

Still waiting for my first shipment, but waits are to be expected with fine presses, especially these days. Because nearly all of my subscriptions are behind (in same cases seriously) I do not think any particular press is doing worse than others. It will be curious to know however going forward whether or which presses change how they operate to shorten the wait times or at least give more accurate delivery estimates.

Out 13, 2022, 10:21 am

Couldn't resist a copy of Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses for my upcoming and highly anticipated read of the Thornwillow Ulysses. I will be interested to see how this new scholarship and details differ from the classic Ulysses Annotated I have used for previous reads. No hurry Thornwillow, I'm still in the middle of my "one page a week" read of Finnegans Wake.

Any new impressions of the first installment editions? Is it still just Volumes 1 and 2?

Out 13, 2022, 11:56 am

So when is Thornwillow going to do Proust? Seems like the logical next step.

Out 13, 2022, 12:17 pm

>530 MobyRichard: I would so love that. They could do a soft leather state like the Pleiades editions along with their usual selection of states. Even if they just did In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower to supplement the LEC edition of Swann's Way, I'd be happy. But the whole In Search of Lost Time would be a dream come true.

P.S. Their "Charlus" state could be quite naughty.
P.P.S. They should also consider The Albertine Workout for one of their monthly dispatches. I would be getting that one.

Editado: Out 13, 2022, 12:25 pm

>530 MobyRichard: No chance of In Search of Lost Time letterpress from any press ever IMO. Far too long.

I could see someone doing Swann in Love in isolation though. Maybe should have suggested that for Consensus Press..

Editado: Out 13, 2022, 12:45 pm

>532 punkzip: "No chance of In Search of Lost Time letterpress from any press ever IMO. Far too long."

I mean, a 7-volume series isn't terribly unreasonable. I just can't think of one off the top of my head that's full-length novels done in letterpress.

I'd imagine it would be more an Arion type project than Thornwillow though, if there were an audience for it.

Editado: Out 13, 2022, 1:00 pm

>533 NathanOv: The cost of an AP ISOLT would be high 4 figures to 5 figures I suspect.

Out 13, 2022, 2:09 pm

AP wouldn't touch it, I suspect, or it would have been done at least in part in the Hoyem era.

Seems ideally suited to Thornwillow, who could Kickstart it volume by volume, allowing for the fall-off of interest in the later volumes, but still make the bindings in series. (Using quick numbers from LT, there are 10k copies of Swann's Way; Vol. 2:ITSOYGIF has 3500 copies (-65%); vol. 3:TGW drops off another 27%; Vol. 4:SAG another 4%...etc. ) I'd be in for the whole series and willing to wait the years necessary to complete it a volume every year or so.

I got no more time for Proust on the Joyce thread. Pun intended.

Nov 21, 2022, 4:44 pm

Those of us who ordered non-installment versions of Ulysses will not see the books this year (December was originally planned). Instead it's now Bloomsday 2023. A bit disappointing although I expected this.

Nov 21, 2022, 4:51 pm

>536 punkzip: Given that I am still waiting on a leather Song of Solomon from (July 2021?) Kickstarter, not surprised either at a delay.

Nov 21, 2022, 5:08 pm

Good thing it's my eighth edition, ha ha!!! I am curious how many of the installment chapters have been delivered to customers. Last I heard was just two, I think. It also doesn't seem like they will get through the reading either, as they haven't released a new chapter in a while. Wonder if it's shortage of help or shortage of readers?

Nov 21, 2022, 8:04 pm

>537 LBShoreBook: Yup, I'm in the same boat. Sent my back a month or two ago and haven't heard a peep since.

Editado: Nov 21, 2022, 9:38 pm

>538 jveezer: Looks like they're through three:

And they do appear to be catching up on things. They were about four months behind on the Dispatch chapbooks at one point, and I think they actually should be more or less up to date by the end of the year.

It also appears that the standard half-leather SoS copies are in the bindery now.

Nov 29, 2022, 11:20 am

I just got the new OUP Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses and now am going down the rat hole of trying to find a Gabler edition of Ulysses that the annotations are keyed to. Not that it's absolutely necessary since I can figure it out most of the time by just being in the right ballpark but...

And I guess if I'm gonna re-read Ulysses I should read the corrected text on one of the re-reads. My daunting re-reads are piling up.

And tying this comment into this post's topic, the Thornwillow Ulysses is NOT the corrected text, of course. Mostly to commemorate the centennial but also partly because that text is out of copyright while the Gabler (1986 and on) editions probably are not.

Nov 30, 2022, 2:51 pm

Well, my willpower didn't take long to break. There were two Bodley Head Gabler 1986 editions on Abebooks when I looked and one sold before the seller could even reply to my question. That made my wallet hand twitchy and the other copy is hopefully safely purchased way before my normal mulling period was complete. Pairs nicely with the new Slote annotations...

Maybe that will be my next Ulysses read since the Thornwillow still looks 6 months out. I think I've run out of desired Ulysses editions I can afford. The 1936 Bodley Head on vellum is min. $1500 and the LEC is min. $4000.

Mar 11, 11:37 am

Good news on Ulysses progress: Volume 5 of 10 is printed and ready for folding. Halfway'ish there.

It seems the Ulysses reading has been lost in the shuffle though. They haven't put out a new one in quite a while. Maybe the marketing person handling it was part of the turnover they've been experiencing and hasn't been replaced. Or they got sucked into the pressroom to help them get caught up! Shame. I was enjoying it. And was using it to finally read my first edition facsimile.

But that's OK, instead I'm plugging along in my Bodley Head Gabler edition with the new Slote annotations. And reading a page of Finnegans Wake a week in my Folio Society edition. The Joy(ce) never ends.

Jul 4, 11:34 am

So it looks like they've shipped up to volume 6 of the paper-wrapped Ulysses? Out of curiosity, can someone who has that edition tell me what chapter that goes up to? Looking forward to my first TW half-cloth edition.

I'm still following the Thornwillow centennial reading and am up to Eumaeus chapter, the third from last. Any one else still hanging in there or finished up now that they've posted all the episodes?

Sadly, they seemed to have diss'ed me and not used my section from the last chapter. I put a lot of work into it and sent it early before they had posted many chapters. It either got lost in the shuffle of personnel or maybe even more disappointingly they decided that they didn't want men reading Penelope. I noticed they only used women when I skimmed it for my section. The reading is great regardless of who got left out. There are many cool editions highlighted throughout the reading but it looks like mine would have been the only one that showed the Arion Press edition. Oh well, the ineluctable modality of the visible....

Jul 6, 1:13 pm

>544 jveezer: That's unfortunate about your reading. The Penelope section on the Thornwillow feed is really well done. But I can only imagine that yours might have been even better ;) To be honest, I have not watched/listened to the whole Thornwillow journey. But I have moved through it and listened to my favorite parts. Ultimately, I would like to do the full journey. What they have done is extremely impressive. To see it all done and up there is pretty outrageous and crazy. I commend them for doing it. Something that involved so much work and doesn't make anyone a penny is a rare thing and should be applauded. It is really exceptional.

Regarding the printing, I understand that they are printing the final volume of the ten volume sets now (the last chapter). So the four volume sets are not all that far away anymore. I'm really looking forward. They say that they should be done by the end of the year.

Jul 6, 1:27 pm

>545 FvS: I was hoping they'd catch up somehow so they could feature one of their installment editions in the readings. But it didn't happen. And no other fine press edition made an appearance yet to my recollection, just interesting firsts and trade editions. I would have liked to see someone showing off the LEC and the AP, and maybe the first Bodley Head, etc.

Editado: Set 22, 8:45 am

As this was the first and only Kickstarter I've ever participated in, at what point should I be concerned that I have have just thrown my money into the void? Having backed the half leather 4 volume edition, it's now been 2 years since parting with that cash. Is there any recourse for us if this never gets produced or is it considered a donation of some kind?

Edited to add (before someone mentions it) that I do check the progress page occasionally. The four volume editions never seem to change states.

Set 22, 9:29 am

>547 L.Bloom: Im in the same exact boat as you. I don't know what they're doing but it's such bad business to charge so much and then delay the product for years with pretty much zero information about said delay. We both spent a pretty penny and other publishers are far better at communicating and actually publishing a titile within a two year window.

Set 22, 9:35 am

>547 L.Bloom: >548 Joshbooks1: You have no legal recourse on Kickstarter. You are sponsoring a project. They are under no legal or financial obligation to deliver anything. That said, a reputable publisher such as Thornwillow will probably go out of its way to deliver the book. High end books often take much longer to come to fruition than traditional publishing.

Set 22, 9:42 am

>547 L.Bloom: I wouldn’t worry, the edition is fully printed and Thornwillow is going to bind them and get them to you. Thornwillow Kickstarters take longer than some, but are not exactly risky endeavors.

Editado: Set 22, 10:31 am

>547 L.Bloom:

Wasn't there a project that was delayed by like 10 or 15 years lol? I might be exaggerating but there was a lot of chatter on Librarything about it. I'm actually not shocked it's taking Thornwillow this long, that's why I rarely preorder fine press books. Even a six month lead time is just too much for me unless it's something like the new Foolscap book, etc.

Set 22, 10:35 am

>550 NathanOv: Im not worried per se, it is just a little disappointing that a publisher I like and respect has taken such a long time to fulfull its obligation. It would be nice to have at least a biannual email regarding my $2400 purchase that has taken far too long. If it were any other service and I didnt love books so much I would have asked for a refund long ago. Other publishers I subscribe to would keep me in the loop.

Set 22, 10:58 am

>551 MobyRichard: I will definitely be wary of Kickstarter going forward. It's pretty clear to me that as a backer, you are not a customer. They are carrying on with lots of other projects in the meantime for people who are actually customers.

Set 22, 11:05 am

>551 MobyRichard: This is why I've mostly stopped pre-ordering nice editions as well! By the time it's in my hands, I'll probably have already given in and read it in another version, making the order nowhere near as desirable. (Also in general, I find that long waits just mean more time for me to lose my excitement.)

Set 22, 11:18 am

>552 Joshbooks1: I didn't back the full leather, but I've received several updates in 2023, not to mention the original notice, given several months in advance, that they weren't going to be able to make the original December 2022 delivery estimate.

I get the frustration, but they've been communicating and keeping statuses up to date.

Set 22, 11:50 am

>551 MobyRichard: You might be thinking of the Little, Big odyssey. I did get my standard edition a little while ago but can't speak to the nicer editions. The pre-sale took place almost 20 years ago.

Set 22, 11:56 am

Two years or more is not an unusual amount of time to wait for a fine press book, especially one of this size.

Set 23, 8:42 am

>555 NathanOv: I'm not trying to bash Thornwillow, I'm just disappointed. I get their weekly or biweekly emails and browse them quickly so maybe I missed an update but to be honest I expect more than that and do not want to spend every week reading their entire email just so maybe I can see an update on Ulysses. I have only been collecting fine press books for five years or so but I do subscribe to Barbarian, Foolscap, and Arion who all are well organized, prompt, and communicative when it comes to their titles and both when and what to expect. Spending $2400 (I think) with minimal communication for two years is disappointing. I get the delay, and am okay with that, but would it be so hard for a member of the press to collect the emails of the backers and personally write emails to this group regarding the status of their order every six months or so? It has been two years and I still have zero insight or what to expect. Will it even come in 2024? I don't know... hopefully? I'm sure if this were any other small business it would be unacceptable for most here?

I will be happy and grateful when I receive the product, I'm just not sure I will ever purchase another book by them via Kickstarter ever again.

Set 23, 10:18 am

>559 Joshbooks1: I just got an email from Thornwillow this morning (unrelated to Ulysses), but at the bottom, like every email I’ve gotten from them for the last several months, it says:

“As a reminder, we are keeping the Status page of our website up to date as we progress with our Song of Solomon, Ulysses, Charlotte's Web, and Dispatch production.” (And the word status is a link, though I don’t know how to hyperlink that way here - so here it is:

So they have been providing updates - but as you said, perhaps you just weren’t reading them closely enough to realize that.

Editado: Set 23, 11:39 am

>559 Joshbooks1: Do you want 6-weeks of “still binding … still binding … still binding …still binding” emails?

I’m a little lost here. A status page is already above and beyond what most presses do for communication, and they’re only 9-months behind at this point.

Sure, given the lower tiers have yet to deliver, it’ll probably be much much longer on the high ones. But there’s hardly been an egregious delay so far, especially with how up-to-date they’ve been good about keeping everyone.

Set 23, 12:47 pm

In retrospect, I think it was obvious that the 4-volume hardcover sets were print-as-you-go in tandem with the 10-volume softcover sets, and thus the binding process for the 4-volume hardcover sets would not even commence until the printing for all sets was completed.

Set 24, 12:19 am

When I saw the flurry of messages in this topic this morning I was thinking someone had started to receive some of other states, or for some news on the completion of the paper-wrapped copies.

I'm waiting on a half-cloth, but in no hurry, as I'm in the middle of reading two other editions, one along with the Thornwillow reading, and the Bodley Head Gabler edition. I can wait to read it again in my Thornwillow, life permitting.

Also, I've been waiting on the Barbarian Press Curwen book for much longer...and the rumored BP Metamorphoses even longer.

Set 24, 1:02 pm

>563 jveezer: "I've been waiting on the Barbarian Press Curwen book for much longer...and the rumored BP Metamorphoses even longer."

Yes, but BP has not taken your order/money for them, right?

Set 24, 1:59 pm

Some of it, sort of. I was an early investor in them acquiring the Curwen Press assets. And they do request advanced payments if possible to keep the presses running between books, so I am almost fully paid on that future book. And I'm good with all that.

Set 24, 4:39 pm

>564 ultrarightist: I always prefer to pay in advance, because I would prefer to pay for a 2023 book at a 2019 price.

Editado: Set 24, 6:58 pm

>566 edkennedy:

I admire your economic fatalism 😭

Set 25, 2:03 am

>566 edkennedy:
Thats not always how it works

Set 25, 10:34 am

>568 Ragnaroek: haha. I didn’t want to nitpick, but yes, time value of money doesn’t change depending on whose pocket it sits in.

Set 25, 12:16 pm

>569 What_What:
You mean they cannot raise their prices and ask for more if they need 3 years for the book to finish it ? Most stuff would be much lower costs 3 years ago. So they could end up with a big minus.

Set 25, 6:40 pm

>570 Ragnaroek: Usually a press wouldn’t ask for more money, no.

And I meant it doesn’t really make sense to prepay for something years ahead as a way to eliminate the risk of the price going up, because it’s now an interest free loan that could have been put to work otherwise had it been kept in your pocket.

Set 25, 10:06 pm

I paid $600 for my copy of Thornwillow's Song of Solomon and when I received it two years later the price was $1000, which sounds like a 30 percent interest loan to me.

I was only partially serious but I do often find that if I know I want a book paying early and waiting makes financial sense.

Editado: Set 26, 2:31 am

>571 What_What:
This books financed via kickstarter if i have read correctly and to charge more is an common kickstarter practice if it takes a long time to produce the product and it gets alot more expensive then usually planned.

And from 600- 1000 $ is huge...

Nov 19, 2:07 pm

Am I reading that status chart right? Ulysses half-cloth is bound. And shipping of that and the last of the paper-wrapped are "currently in the works?"

Have any paper-wrapper patrons received all their volumes yet? Anyone seen a half-cloth?

Nov 19, 6:31 pm

>572 edkennedy:
Are there Illustrations?

Nov 20, 11:37 pm

Why the hell do some members have their names crossed out? Banned? Yikes!

Nov 21, 12:29 am

>576 Undergroundman: Could have just deleted their account. They seemed to engage in good faith here, if a little over- excitedly at times.

Nov 21, 4:21 am

>577 NathanOv: Yeah, that's why I found that odd. It's not like they were trolling, or being disruptive. Weird.

Nov 21, 8:29 am

Off-topic but there are currently two copies of Ulysses signed by both Matisse and Joyce (Limited Editions Club) for sale on auctions.

Nov 21, 11:10 am

Nov 21, 5:07 pm