Which books would you consider to be 'Folio flops'?

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Which books would you consider to be 'Folio flops'?

huhtikuu 9, 7:05 pm

That is, books that didn't sell (or aren't selling well), don't look to be part of their longseller list (like many classics they keep in print) and they have been in several sales and they just don't go. It may be that with all the pricing Folio has taken they are now more expensive in sales than their original retail price, but either way they are stragglers in the warehouse.

The ones I can think of right away are mostly fiction:

- Oryx and Crake
- Kavalier & Clay
- Get Shorty
- all the Josephine Tey books that are still on stock

Which books can you think of?

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 9:46 pm

>1 dyhtstriyk: Twelfth Night. I know they had special circumstances (lots of overstock from the letterpress Shakespeare) but it’s been in many sales at really deep discounts.

Edited to add that it’s a fantastic production and an incredible steal at the sale prices

huhtikuu 9, 8:41 pm

I know the Rob Roy LE isn't spoken of very highly here and it doesn't seem to be selling well, but I picked it up recently during the new year sale and I have to say I'm quite happy with it. It definitely looks better in person than in pictures, and the sale price was quite good compared to the prices on some more recent LEs.

On a similar note, I'd love to know how The Turn of the Screw LE is selling. I think that's the most shockingly-priced LE they have for what you actually get. Only 250 copies made and no low stock counter or other such notices in sight.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 10:39 pm

>1 dyhtstriyk: lol that recency bias. Oxford Shakespeares? (and someone already said Twelfth Night)

The Tomb of Tutankhamun went on summer sale 2016 then appeared on practically every one of them until it sold out like 2018/2019. It is reprinted now for some reason lol so idk.

I would say a "folio flop" would be anything that went on sale (except How to See Fairies/Ubik obviously).

huhtikuu 10, 3:06 am

The ironically-named Collectables. About as Collectable as buboes.

huhtikuu 10, 5:26 am

>4 HamburgerHelper: lol that recency bias. Oxford Shakespeares?

I don't think there was ever an intention to sell those separately - their availability was just a consequence of the drastic reduction in Letterpress Shakespeare limitations, and many or most Letterpress titles were probably not bound up and offered for sale in even the reduced limitation numbers.

To counter the recency bias, there still hasn't been a reprint of Hermsprong ;)

huhtikuu 10, 6:08 am

>6 terebinth:
Yes, Hermsprong was meant to be a limited edition of 250 copies, but only 25 were printed, making it the rarest of all FS editions, and even Charles Ede said it was a flop.
It is reviewed at https://www.librarything.com/topic/314399

huhtikuu 10, 8:09 am

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 8:55 am

>7 wcarter:
That was just the special binding, wasn't it?

Edited to add that Ede did say the main edition was a poor seller, so I suppose that makes it a double flop

huhtikuu 10, 9:02 am

>4 HamburgerHelper: oh, yeah... I remember those Oxford Shakespeares appearing on every sale. And, if I recall correctly, some Thames and Hudson volumes they were selling.

huhtikuu 10, 9:23 am

Parade’s End? I enjoyed the novel, though already had the Everyman so never bought the FS set, which looked nice.

huhtikuu 10, 1:10 pm

A Hero Born (unfortunately). Still available. And the first of a trilogy, unlikely to be finished now by Folio I would guess.

Particularly unfortunate given that Jin Yong is probably the most popular wuxia (fantasy kung-fu) novelist. His works have sold more than 300 million copies, making him one of the best selling Chinese authors of all time. Wider publication of his works would likely help cultural communication. (Also, they are fun fantasy stories, and the first volume was well illustrated in the Folio edition.)

huhtikuu 10, 1:17 pm

>12 abysswalker: likewise find this unfortunate. I wonder if more people would have bought the first volume if they had committed to publishing all three.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 2:04 pm

I didn't knew that tbh. I bought it and thought its just a single story. Dammit :(

Just looked it up. It got released 2019 and I bought it last month. Its a first print, so yeah, I think it can be considered as a flop, nevertheless it's a great book story.

huhtikuu 10, 3:36 pm

>12 abysswalker: has it been discounted at any sale? I remember wanting to buy it, though I thought it was too expensive for a paper bound book.

I read it a couple years ago and enjoyed it. The story ends in a cliffhanger, though, and I don't see Folio continuing the series.

huhtikuu 11, 4:29 am

A few years ago I would’ve considered the John Wyndham trilogy a flop as it was in every sale for ages - then it seemed to get a new lease on popularity since its reprint, which coincided with the fantasy/sci-fi surge for Folio.

The earlier Jane Austens…only three were ever published. I actually love them, but not many did it seems.

The Scarlet Pimpernel?
The Kafka set? (I really like them too)
Perfume? (No illustrations due to author)
The New York Trilogy?
Mary Renault sets?

huhtikuu 11, 7:14 am

How about the infamous Bayeux Tapestry Limited Edition in Scroll Box?


huhtikuu 11, 7:15 am

>16 Jeremy53: you’ve made me remember the Mary Renault books appearing at every sale. Also, Every Man for Himself took forever to sell out and so did the Susan Cooper books (those mainly because The Dark is Rising sold out and the rest were left to linger)

huhtikuu 11, 7:31 am

>17 RogerBlake:
That was probably the flop of all flops!
I still would have liked to buy the scroll without the box.

huhtikuu 11, 7:55 am

It is difficult to judge with LEs, but Plants of the Americas was released in 2016 and has still not sold out (although I've just noticed that it's now marked as "Low Stock: 50 left"), despite (if I remember correctly) being 50% off in a number of sales over the years.

What is the current title which has been available for the longest without any known reprints? (Obviously some staples have been available for years, like the Tolkien books, but it'd be interesting to see which has been around the longest simply because they can't shift it.)

huhtikuu 11, 1:23 pm

>17 RogerBlake: ha! I forgot about that :)
Still, not sure I could call it a flop. 480 copies at a price of around $2500 is a cool $1.2 million. Seems like they sold out, so again, not a flop. Unusual for sure, and I'm surprised it sold out, but hey, gotta give credit for originality!

huhtikuu 11, 1:55 pm

Rob Roy looks floppy. There are still over 300 copies left of a limitation of only 750.

huhtikuu 11, 2:00 pm

>22 cronshaw: Rob Roy looks floppy.

Not something I'd say to his face. But yes, the book seems to be an overall failure. That terrible artwork has much to answer for.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 11, 2:36 pm

>21 astropi: Still, not sure I could call it a flop. 480 copies at a price of around $2500 is a cool $1.2 million. Seems like they sold out,

According to the Folio Society Devotees Wiki less than 50 were actually produced!

huhtikuu 11, 3:25 pm

>24 RogerBlake: Interesting... has that number been confirmed? If so, definitely a flop, but now probably a collectible flop. Funny how that works :)

huhtikuu 12, 10:15 am

Has the Starship Trooper Book by Heinlein got a second print already ? I feel like it wont get reprinted.

huhtikuu 12, 11:09 am

How about the book that they never sold and couldn't give away?

I am, of course, referring to everyone's favorite FS flop: YRTTD.

If only they had put YRTTD in a scroll box. Then one could have the ultimate flop.

huhtikuu 12, 11:22 am

the tacky green leather of the Odyssey... dire
also Proust, which I had looked forward to so much is bound much too tight and the cloth bindings are prone to mould spots... (and I live in NW England not Mississippi)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 5:57 pm

>27 podaniel: YRTTD's floppiness was down to poor marketing. If only Folio had marketed the edition as a readable drinks coaster - collect your own set of six! - it would have been a hit. Furthermore, enjoying a G&T or beer (without worrying about marking your table top) is definitely a YRTTD.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 13, 7:47 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

huhtikuu 12, 1:37 pm

>27 podaniel: ok, I am going to have to ask, what is YRTTD?

huhtikuu 12, 1:51 pm

huhtikuu 12, 3:55 pm

YRTTD is crying out to be an altered book project. Maybe I can find one here in the States on the cheap...

huhtikuu 12, 4:01 pm

>32 CarltonC: thank you, that explains it. A good article by Warwick as well.

huhtikuu 12, 4:06 pm

Not going to lie, I think Year Round Things To Do is cute :)

huhtikuu 12, 5:07 pm

That hideous purple Cicero book.

huhtikuu 12, 5:11 pm

>35 astropi: Didn't know about that one. Seems like an older 'Dangerous Book for Boys'. I just bought a copy because when I was a kid I loved the concept of such books.

Was The Folio Book of Days a flop or was it offered only as a gift? It's cheap as chips in the secondary market.

huhtikuu 12, 5:18 pm

>37 dyhtstriyk: It was a presentation volume so anyone who ordered their 4 books to retain or get membership got it for free.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 7:09 pm

Years ago... years and years, the FS offered a very wonderful edition of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary and Thesaurus as a gift to anyone that ordered the 4+ books. For me, this is the most beautiful "free" gift the FS has ever given, and I still have both of these books :)
Granted, today it's easy to look anything up online, but honestly, I still use them from time to time because I'm old skool...

Stock Image:

huhtikuu 12, 10:01 pm

>28 lgreen666:

There don't seem to be any problems of this sort with my copy of the (2000) Proust set.

huhtikuu 12, 10:02 pm

The framed copy of the Magna Carta? The full run was never produced. I’d have quite liked a copy but it was expensive I think.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 10:37 pm

>40 cpg:
I bought a second hand set and it was a disaster. The page signatures in Swann's Way were sewn out of order, one signature was missing, and a picture was duplicated. It skipped from page 150 to 199, then from 214 back to 167, so it was missing pages 150 - 167 all together, and it had duplicate pictures of a corset shop window.

Not to mention numerous threads coming loose from the cloth binding.

The entire set was drab and lacking inspiration. So many possibilities for such a colorful work that contains so many descriptions of paintings, real and fictitious. I've been holding out hope that FS redeems this with an inspired edition someday.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 14, 9:55 am

>27 podaniel: "How about the book that they never sold and couldn't give away? I am, of course, referring to everyone's favorite FS flop: YRTTD."

I suspect that YRTTD was a product of the subscription era - FS used to keep in print a whole series of cheap books designed for new subscribers, who had joined on the basis of a glossy advert in one of the Sunday supplements, and were short of inspiration on what to purchase to fulfil their annual commitment to buy several books at full price. Once the subscription model came to an end (in 2016), nobody was going to purchase YRTTD (even in a sale), so the existing stock had to cleared by some other method.

IMHO these books are the real FS flops, if you look at it in terms of quality of content instead of units sold.

huhtikuu 14, 12:19 pm

>43 TheEconomist:

I'm not sure whether YRTTD was offered for sale, but pretty sure that it would never have counted toward the four books requirement. Many of us acquired multiple copies because - on its initial appearance? - it was a free gift when purchasing from a sale, and every new purchase brought another copy of YRTTD.

There certainly were some small and fairly low priced standard Folio volumes that lingered in the annual prospectus and may have attracted members struggling to make up their quota.

huhtikuu 14, 5:45 pm

I took a look at the sales spreadsheet to identify some candidates for consideration. On average, books sell out after 3-4 sale appearances. The following books were in at least 8 sales, often at significant discounts.

1. Twelfth Night (8 and counting)
2. Loving (10)
3. Age of Gold (9)
4. Blue Flower (9)
5. Book of Common Prayer (9)
6. Complete Shorter Fiction - Melville (9)
7. Disgrace (9)
8. Garden of the Finzi-Continis (9)
9. No Cloak, No Dagger (9)
10. Big Chief Elizabeth (8)
11. Cloudstreet (8)
12. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (8)
13. Meaning of Hitler (8)
14. Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb (8)
15. Parade’s End (8)

Of course, the spreadsheet only goes back about 5 years, so the above list suffers from some recency bias.

huhtikuu 14, 9:12 pm

>45 Redshirt: Of all those, only “Dialogue” has gone up in value as a collector’s item.

huhtikuu 15, 12:19 pm

>43 TheEconomist:
That wasn't the model FS used. They didn't keep a whole series of books designed for new subscribers at all. The deals were on standard editions, usually boxed sets. Mine was the set of Joan Hassall illustrated Jane Austen books, still one of my all-time favourites.
As >44 terebinth: says, YRTTD was a freebie that came as an extra.
So I'm really not sure that books that didn't exist can be counted as flops.

huhtikuu 17, 10:54 am

>47 Willoyd: "That wasn't the model FS used. They didn't keep a whole series of books designed for new subscribers at all. "

I beg to differ. In the subscription model days, FS kept a whole series of cheap, small-format anthologies in print. For example: The book of after-dinner speeches, The best of the raconteurs, the pick of punch (in 2 volumes), etc, etc, etc. These books generally went through multiple printings, but there was very little of the FS ethos about them. The production standards were close to FS norms, but these were books that were only really suitable for keeping in the lavatory. How many of us have poured ourselves our favourite drink, and settled down in our favourite armchair of an evening to read the Folio book of after-dinner speeches?*

The whole point of these books is that they were cheap to produce and therefore could be retailed at a lower price point than most FS titles. I submit that the real market was the new subscriber; the point was that if a new subscriber found it reasonably easy to order the requisite titles from the full-price list, there was a better chance of holding on to them for more than one year.

Once the subscription model ended, there was no point in keeping these books in print, and there is nothing of this nature in the current FS catalogue.

* Insert the title of any of about 10-20 different anthologies here

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 17, 6:32 pm

>48 TheEconomist:

Such anthologies may well have appealed more to members at a loose end when seeking a casual purchase or two to make up their annual quota, but I hadn't remembered their being a particularly low-priced range, and curiosity prompted me to examine the prospectus from 2000 which I think bears out my recollection.

There is indeed quite a bunch of those gold- and silver- bound anthologies, and they're all priced at £18.95 or £19.95. Several other assorted titles are also at £18.95, and a very large assortment of standard Folio volumes are at £19.95. Lower prices also exist:

£13.50, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
£14.50, Diary of a Nobody
£14.95, 1066 and All That
£15.95, Animal Farm
£16.75 - £17.50, the seven individual volumes of Jane Austen
£17.95, Thomas Wolsey
£17.95, Under Milk Wood
£17.95, The Maltese Falcon

One or two of those may well have had their stay in print prolonged by their gentle price points and the effect of the membership model. The anthologies - well, perhaps they were just in steady demand for the guest rooms of the vanished legion of retired clergymen who by some accounts used to constitute a substantial part of Folio's customer base.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 17, 7:45 pm

>48 TheEconomist:
>49 terebinth: has dealt with the bulk of what I would argue (having regularly shopped at the bottome end of the FS price range, I can attest that this was not an exceptional year - I never bought any of the anthologies, not being a fan), but I would add this:

Once the subscription model ended, there was no point in keeping these books in print, and there is nothing of this nature in the current FS catalogue.
I would class, for instance, the season anthologies (of which 'Spring' is still available), and the likes of The 'Folio Book of Humour' in exactly the same category - the only difference being that the latter is expensive.

huhtikuu 20, 12:13 pm

I got myself a copy of YRTTD for $10. I'm perusing it and it definitely seems... a tad twee. But I'm a sucker for all those books that emulate the Boy's Own, so it's a nice addition.

All the comments about its ubiquity reminded me about this delightful review of The Corrections:


"Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections was expected to be the Next Big Thing, but buyers became bored when they realized the book couldn't be tickled like Elmo, or fed like a Tamagotchi, or collected like Beanie Babies. The unprecedented print run, as well as low sale numbers and high return rates, led to overcrowding. Some bookstores resorted to giving away copies for free, but recipients usually passed them on to unsuspecting friends, like fruitcake."

huhtikuu 23, 3:58 pm

>7 wcarter:
Someone just listed a copy on eBay (not me, nor anyone affiliated with me)! I’ll post in the hard-to-get-Folios thread as well…