COLLECTORS’ EDITIONS FOR BOOK-LOVERS EVERYWHERE
From our first books in 1947 we have made it our goal to furnish readers with beautiful and authoritative editions of great literary works.
The Folio Society brings together a worldwide community of booklovers who appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of fine editions. We have long been a haven for the eclectic and open-minded reader, providing a real depth both within and across genres.
Our non-fiction list ranges from the elegant poetic axioms of the Tao Tê Ching to the hard-nosed historical analysis of Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad and the unexpected observations in Albert Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions; whilst our fiction spans Seamus Heaney’s brilliant translation of Beowulf, the intoxicating short stories of William Trevor and the wit and whimsy of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.
We are fortunate at Folio to be able to allocate care and attention to each individual book. Because the range of books we publish is so diverse, so also is our approach. From choosing the best translations to negotiating revisions with an author; from fact-checking at an array of specialist libraries across the world to emending the textual imperfections which often creep into modern editions of classic works – we aspire to give our members an enhanced experience of their favourite books. A rarity within the modern publishing world, our team of dedicated editors ensures that each book is proofread twice as well as being sensitively and knowledgeably re-edited as close to the authors wishes as possible.
At The Folio Society we select leading figures in the academic and literary world who act as the reader’s companion, whetting the appetite for the book and setting the work in context. Writers of the calibre of Peter Ackroyd, Max Hastings, Colm Tóibín, A. S. Byatt, Penelope Lively, Terry Jones and Julian Barnes are just some of those who have recently contributed to Folio publications.
THE TEXTS AND ADDITIONAL FEATURES
Our editors work closely with the Art Department to ensure the perfect artist is commissioned for a novel, and continuing this process, both teams work with the artist on interpretation and details. Where our own knowledge ends we call in experts, who have advised us on specialisms from the transliteration of Chinese characters (in the Tao Tê Ching) to the intricacies of devising a naval battle-plan (for Patrick O'Brian's swashbucking bestsellers). Even the less celebrated elements of every text are looked at afresh: if we think the original index insufficient, we will commission a completely new one; if a pre-existing map isn’t of adequate quality, we will have it redrawn. All this time we will work closely with authors and estates: from correcting typos, to revising or updating works of non-fiction, our editorial team prides itself on ensuring each of our works is the best edition available.
THE BINDING DESIGNS
One of the key features of Folio books is the rich variety and sophistication of the binding designs.
A wide range of traditional materials – such as buckram, cotton, silk or leather, printed or hand-marbled paper, gold blocking, coloured blocking, gilded or coloured edges – is employed for the bindings. These fabrics are the foundation upon which the artists and designers produce their creations. Sometimes their designs are printed in ink, but more often they are blocked – that is to say, impressed with foil into the surface of the material; frequently the two processes are employed together.
Variety is a keynote of a Folio binding, another feature is its strength: Book spines are sewn, not glued, to enable them to lie flat and not crack. Every resource is employed to make a Folio book last for generations.
The papers for Folio Society books are produced by a small number of European mills, chosen for their ability to produce the highest quality papers with absolute consistency. The selection of paper for a particular book will involve deciding on a shade and character which harmonises with the illustrations and binding materials. Books printed on inferior stocks will go brown and brittle within a few years; all Folio books are printed on wood-free and acid-free paper, designed for reading and re-reading over many generations. Many books feature decorated head and tail bands in colours carefully selected to match the designs to form a finishing touch.
A distinctive feature of Folio Society books which immediately strikes the eye is their presentation not in dust-jackets but in slipcases – the traditional protective covering for fine editions. The dust-jacket evolved in the 20th century as a marketing device designed to catch the eye in a crowded bookshop. It does not, however, protect the book, and is itself easily damaged. With Folio books the design emphasis is on the binding itself, a permanent feature of the book. Fine bindings need protection from dust and light, and this is provided by the slipcase, and at times a robust box covered in coloured paper, ornamented with printing or blocking.
The heart of a well-designed book is its words, and at Folio an immense amount of creative energy is spent on the typography which communicates these words to the reader. Good typography is pleasing to the eye, but never intrusive – consideration for the reader is paramount. In Folio books you will find a generous type-size, spacing and margins, embellished where appropriate with attractive display type and a restrained use of ornaments. In the typography of Folio books the traditional virtues of legibility and elegance are paramount, yet there is still immense scope for typographic inventiveness, and a wide variety of typefaces, both traditional and contemporary, is employed. Each one is carefully chosen to suit the character of the individual book.
‘It’s extraordinary – the quality and range of illustration that The Folio Society has commissioned’All Folio Society fiction, poetry and drama titles contain illustrations from the finest exponents of their art in the world today, almost all commissioned fresh for our editions. Great care is taken to choose the right artist for every book, suiting their particular skills to the literary work under consideration. Some artists are household names, others are promising newcomers: what they have in common is an uncompromising dedication to their craft and a commitment to striving towards perfection.
The illustrations in the earliest printed books were engraved on wooden blocks and many Folio Society books are still illustrated in this way. As well as wood engraving, Folio artists employ a wide variety of other methods including etching, linocut and auto-lithography. Whether the artist works in pencil or ink; paints in watercolour, oil, gouache or some other medium, we take the utmost care to ensure the highest possible quality of reproduction, and specify a variety of different papers to best suit the character of the work.
Other titles – mostly from our non-fiction ranges – are generously illustrated with carefully researched works of art and photography to complement the text. Our dedicated Picture Research team is recognised as one of the finest in publishing.
You can now order many of our illustrations as prints at foliosocietyprints.com
At The Folio Society we pride ourselves on using the best illustrators, carefully selected for each edition. If, after looking at our books, you feel your style would be suitable for us, please send examples of appropriate work in one of the following ways.
Anna and Elena
Anna and Elena
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