Over the years, I have collected a number of Dover Thrift Editions, Unabridged books. Everytime I go to a bookstore, be it a second-hand shop or a big commercial one, I never forget to stroll by the classic literature section and hunt for these gems. When I first noticed these on the shelves years back, they were overflowing with brand new copies and titles, some even come in boxsets. But of course, I cannot buy them all! So, I made sure I get a copy or two, whenever I had extra cash.

Despite the bad reviews by some picky collectors like this one who replied on a forum at yahoo about the difference of an unabridged vs. abridged:

Dover Thrift editions are cheaper (as in, the paper is low quality and the binding isn't always that great) and uglier. They usually don't have as much supplemental material, like detailed explanatory notes or introductions and critical essays by great scholars.

I still consider these books as gems, firstly because they are unabridged. By just basing on its definition, it has not been reduced in size by omission, not shortened by leaving out some parts, not condensed and containing the original content. Although indeed, because of the low cost, it sacrifices most of the supplemental material.

Secondly, they are not ugly. I’ve been looking all over the net for what kind or gsm of paper they used, or whether they use recycled paper or not, unfortunately, I found nothing. In Dover's wiki page it states that they used to be keen on the quality, but the current ones are "not manufactured to this exemplary standard anymore due to cost-cutting economic measures". Not clear though when it started, but it is indeed called “thrift” for a reason. And since I acquired my books in different occasions in the course of several years, when arranging them next to each other on the shelf, you will clearly notice the different shades of the aging paper. As I said, they are not ugly, instead I find the fading color beautiful in its own way. The rustic, antique feel to it and the scent of aged paper are all reminiscent of the times when I used to treat my old school library as a temporary shelter of peace and escape inside the busy campus.

Lastly, they are inevitably now becoming rare. Count a few more years and they will in the long run be really hard to find, as all books may eventually die a slow death as the digital era comes to a peak and less and less trees remain. I may be wrong, but I am speaking in regards with copies from this south eastern part of the world.

I noticed that as the years pass, these books slowly dissipate. As their numbers deplete, sometimes, you would even chance upon books with tons of writings on them at second hand shops, with only one copy left. Then the dilemma strikes you, whether to buy it or not. It’s either the previous owner used it for a book report and jotted down notes unto them for lack of other source of writing material (or laziness to find/use one); or, it’s as if the one who analyzed the poetic lines with circles, underlines, question marks, synonyms and gibberish phrases, with barely legible handwriting, then ‘cleverly’ writes on the first page as a subtitle “Complete and Comprehensive” thought they were giving the next reader a favor. Duh? Can’t these people realize that writing on books meant for reading ONLY is like adding another line, color or shape on a painting done by someone else? It’s like writing on a wall of a museum “I was here” to add their mark. It’s not only vandalism, it’s sacrilege!

Oh wait, this post is not supposed to end with rants though. Before I get too carried away, click below for the list. I will be updating this list as I acquire new books. This will serve as my mini inventory, although I wish I had the time to document all my books! Can someone please already invent an app to compile the info of books by desired order (author, publication, genre, et.al.), by just taking a photo? Haha!

My Collection: Dover Thrift Editions List

P.S. If there is such an app, please do tell me.