Thursday, September 23, 2010

Franklin Library; A Book Review.

In this series I'm going to evaluate the quality of book manufacturing from various publishers. I intend only to focus on the quality of the physical book itself. For previous comments on Easton Press, Everyman's library, and what I deem "The mass market Hardback" please see the respective links.

In talking about the Franklin Library a few things need to be said up front: all Franklin Library books are out-of-print, they can't be purchased, 'new.' Furthermore, there are three very distinct classes of Franklin Library books: full leather binding, faux leather also called 'leather-ette', and the quarter bound. This commentary is specifically dealing with the faux leather collection.

These books were printed as a price alternative to the Franklin Library full leather editions, which had a great deal in common with Easton Press. Franklin Library printed lots of 'classics' as well as series of pulitzer prize winners, and even some contemporary fiction (contemporary as off 2000 when the company closed) among other collections. The books are wrapped in a vibrantly colorful cloth that has the look and feel of leather. They also have a decorative etchings on the cover and spine--which I hesitate to call gold or silver, and my research has turned up nothing definitive--as well as gilt page ends for protection and visual beauty.

All come with decorative endpapers, sparse illustrations that range from 'stunning' to 'more bland than white bread.' The binding is solid, sewn not merely glued, the paper is archival quality, and there are raised bands on the spine that really set off the title and author's name--as if they were framed--when viewed on a bookcase.

The faux-leather books by Franklin Library are very easy to acquire on various second hand markets and the price point is very friendly. I'll spare you my speculation as to why these books aren't around today, all that can be said is that it's a shame that they aren't.

No comments: