[Bookish Discussion] Owning Multiple Copies of Books!

I thought about writing a post like this the other day, after I had gone to the bookstore and bought two books that I already owned – just different editions. Please tell me I’m not the only person who doesn’t just buy extra copies of books by accident, but on purpose!

Why do I buy new copies of books?

  • Because I’m thinking of rereading a certain book but my copy is old.
  • Because there’s a different edition of a book that has been catching my eye forever.
  • Because a copy I own might not be in a format I want to read.
  • Because I forget that I own a copy of a book.
  • Because I lent out a copy of a book, then want to reread it, and need a new copy.

There are lots of reasons I’ll buy a new copy of a book and I thought I’d share some of those reasons and also share some of the books I have duplicate copies of – and afterwards I’ll let you know some of the books that I still want to get different copies of.

Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

I have owned this GINORMOUS copy book of Jane Austen novels for years now. It has all 5 of her major books and it’s so pretty. But prettiness aside, this book is massive. It’s heavy and awkward – not really a great book to read at night unless you like concussions when you fall asleep. I had signed up for a read-along for Mansfield Park this year and did NOT want to read my giant hardback book, so I found a nice softcover at the used bookstore to read instead. It’s a great edition of the book, having background on Jane Austen, a timeline of her life, and a little bit about life in the time of Jane Austen. The ONLY thing it’s missing is a built-in bookmark.

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

This one is kind of hilarious, since I obviously have a ridiculous amount of copies of this book. Northanger Abbey is included in my massive bind-up of Austen books, so not exactly convenient to read, but it looks great on a coffee table. I bought one of the blue copies a year or so ago at the bookstore when I saw it on sale, then the OTHER blue copy at a bookstore closing sale, forgetting that I owned the other copy. And then the other day I was shopping for a few other editions of books and thought I’d get the Penguin English Library Edition of it because I have lots of these editions on my shelf and think they’re so pretty.

Emma – Jane Austen

Hi, my name is Kristilyn and I have a Jane Austen addiction. The floral version of this book, the Dover Thrift Edition, is one I’ve owned for years, even though I still haven’t read Emma. I then bought the one with the mug and blue plate at the bookstore closing sale. However, neither of these copies – oh, and did I mention this one is ALSO in my giant bind-up book, too? – were inspiring me to read the book. Then I saw the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition and thought it was absolutely gorgeous and I just had to buy a copy. I had read one of these editions earlier this year and loved the formatting of it, not to mention the beveled pages (nerd, much?), so this will definitely be my next Austen read.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

I had first read Wuthering Heights way back in university, nearly 20 years ago and used the very academic Oxford’s World Classics edition. I decided this year to join the Bronte200 read-along and this was the first book to read and I was so excited to reread it – until I opened up my old copy and realized just how academic and old it felt. I also had notes throughout the book and they were very distracting. I was very happy when I was at the Goodwill and found the gorgeous Penguin Classics Deluxe edition for just $3! This really instilled my love of these editions – I love the illustrated covers and the beveled edges and the formatting inside (seriously, how annoying is it when you get a classic and the font is SO TINY or so CRAMPED TOGETHER and it just doesn’t feel like a real book?). This is the book that made me buy that copy of Emma.

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

I had been wanting to read War and Peace for quite some time, ever since Laura had her read-along last year for the massive classic. When I had a big gift card to use at the bookstore, I bought the version on the left because my preferred version (the one on the right) wasn’t available. I bought the version on the left maybe 6 months or so ago and could not stop thinking that I made a mistake. I adored the version on the right – the colours were just so pretty and when it came to translators of Russian classics, I’ve heard that Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have done the best job. My old version wasn’t translated by them and I just knew I had to get the copy I initially wanted. So earlier this year I found the copy on the right and now that I finally have my preferred edition I should probably read it, right?

A Room With a View – E. M. Forster

This is kind of funny because the first edition I owned of this book was the one on the right, the Penguin English Library edition, but then I saw the one on the left at the thrift store and bought that copy, forgetting I owned the other one. This happens more times than I can count.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale years ago – probably 6 or 7 – and loved it. Last year I had joined a book club and they were reading this book AND the TV show was coming out, too. I knew I wanted to reread it since it had been so long, but all I had was my little mass market paperback. A friend of mine also planned to join the book club and so before I even planned to reread the book, I lent her my only copy. Shortly after I decided I also wanted to reread it, so I bought the TV Tie-In Edition at the Costco. Just saying the words “TV Tie-In Edition” hurts my ears. However, this copy isn’t as cheesy as some of those editions can be, and it was a trade paperback size, which I prefer over mass markets (Seriously, who can read mass markets? They’re just so small! Also, and completely unrelated, as I write this I’m reading a “Pocket Edition” of Gone With The Wind, which is over 1,400 pages. NOT pocket-size, that’s for sure.). I had told my friend she could keep the copy I lent her, but she gave it back and now I have two!

Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

The funny thing about this book is that I never actually read the physical copy of it – I first read this book by listening to the audiobook through the library. Then I think I saw the small paperback at a book sale somewhere and bought it, and then when the TV series came out last year I wanted to reread the story, but instead of looking towards the copy I already had on my shelf, I fell in love with the adorable trade paperback version on the left. I just couldn’t get that edition out of my head, so I picked it up (this was at the grocery store, where one obviously buys books) and can you believe I still haven’t reread it? I planned to but got distracted with something else. I’d love to continue on with this series, though, and hear that Virago has a whole set of the Anne books out. Tempting.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

I read this book so long ago that I really don’t remember anything about it. I never actually intended to reread it, but when I was at that same bookstore closing sale I’ve mentioned a few times already, I saw the Indigo hardback version of the book and just had to pick it up (at 75% off, how could I not? — said the book hoarder). These hardbacks are so pretty AND come with built-in bookmark ribbons, which I love. I plan to revisit this book at some point, hopefully this year, and having a new copy is always a good motivator.

The Shining – Stephen King

My first copy of The Shining was the one on the left and I remember trying to read it maybe 3 years ago. I had been enjoying it, but for some reason I couldn’t help but feel my copy was so old. I don’t even know why I thought that and it really wasn’t something that lent itself towards me putting the book down and getting distracted by something else, but when I finally started to get into King’s fiction works (starting with It, when the movie was coming to theaters), I knew I wanted a new copy of the book. This one is quite nice because it’s super floppy – another thing I love in books – and it made my second attempt at reading the book even more enjoyable.

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

So this is the book that started off my idea of even writing this post. I fell in love with his book Stardust way back in 1998 and when I saw the drugstore I worked at had Neverwhere for sale I picked up a copy. But I never actually got to it. I think I might have watched a really old TV edition of it on TV, but whenever I picked up the book to read, I just never had the patience to get into it. This year I am DETERMINED to read this book – as well as other Gaiman books I own and haven’t read – and so I bought a new trade paperback edition, with the author’s preferred text. I just really dislike mass market paperbacks and think that having something bigger – and new – will be more encouraging. Now that I have this copy I can’t wait to read it!

And those are all the books that I have bought duplicate copies of – or, at least, the ones I can think of offhand. I believe I used to own another copy of Jane Eyre, but I could be wrong because I think the first time I read it was via audiobook on LibraVox. But I bought a new edition of it last year to read this year. I’ve also bought a few books that I had gotten rid of in the past. I will say, when I got to thinking about what I had duplicates of, I had way more than I thought I did.

And I still want more!

Just thinking about the books that I would love to buy new copies of, here’s what comes to mind:

  • The Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
  • The Annotated versions of Wuthering Heights and Mansfield Park (and probably other classics as I read them, knowing I’d love to delve into them a bit more)
  • The Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
  • The Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  • The Vintage Classics Russian Series edition of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (even though I haven’t read this one yet – they’re just so pretty!)
  • I don’t know if one exists, but I’d love a new copy of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens because mine is the mass market version.
  • Penguin Clothbound Classics of the classics I’ve read – so far I only own A Christmas Carol and Little Women in this edition and they just look so beautiful on a bookshelf.

Tell me I’m not the only one! Do you collect other editions of books you already own? If you’ve read a book and a new edition comes out, are you likely to get a copy? What kind of editions are your favourite? 


16 thoughts on “[Bookish Discussion] Owning Multiple Copies of Books!

  1. I have three editions of The Lord of the Rings- one is the paperback box set my parents got me ages ago and is starting to fall apart, one is the giant Tolkien centenary edition with Alan Lee’s illustrations, and one is a beautiful set of hardcovers with lovely white dust jackets. That last one is the set I take out to read.

    I have two copies of Neverwhere! One is the mass market paperback, and the other is the hardback of the author’s preferred edition that came out a couple of years ago, which has the British jokes put back in (the publishers thought Americans wouldn’t get them the first time it was published in the US). I hope you like Neverwhere! It’s my favorite of Gaiman’s novels.

    • I saw someone ask about the UK vs. US versions of a book – they worried that they wouldn’t understand the UK version. I don’t get it – maybe because I’m Canadian with a bit of British in me, I just love the cheeky British jokes! I have the Neil Gaiman preferred text for American Gods – another one I need to read!

      • The UK edition is so similar to the US edition! I only noticed the differences because I’ve read Neverwhere so many times, and the jokes are funny for people in the US, too. I don’t know what the publisher was worried about…

  2. The only books I own multiple copies of are..
    – Harry Potter because I owned the Dutch version and really wanted the English ones. Then the illustrated versions came and now I’m collecting those as well. Childhood sentiment, okay?! :’)
    – The Mortal Instruments for pretty much the same reason. I owned them in Dutch, want to reread them in English at some point and they’re just so pretty in hardcover too.
    [Both those series in Dutch are RUINED because I read them so often; so there’s that.]
    – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I loved it so much when I read it the first time. Then I discovered it would be in one of my subscription boxes. Then another sub box had an equally pretty cover so I needed that one. OH. And THEN Barnes & Noble decided to have an exclusive cover as well so… Now I own three copies of that book. No regrets.

    [I’ve also bought the same book more than once by accident because I forgot I already owned a copy. Or because I bought it when I saw it at the bookstore, then my subscription box arrives and YAY SAME BOOK. Oops.]

  3. What a fun post! I love seeing the various editions of books you love (or haven’t yet read. War and Peace patiently sits on my shelf, too). Once upon a time I had a dozen editions of Dracula. I’m a sucker for cool covers, footnotes, and interesting introductions (which should be read only after you read a novel for the first time, IMHO). I did a big cull for our last move and now have only three editions.

  4. You wrote on my post about your multiple copies of War and Peace! This is something that didn’t effect me until quite recently – something about doing these challenges has turned my reading into an art form! Only have 2 copies of ‘Orlando’ at the moment but I can see that changing . . .

  5. I do have 2 copies of Little Women. 🙂 And also Lassie Come Home, and Rascal. Just a few of my favorites!

    It seems that you must be a fan of Louisa May Alcott. So I thought I’d let you know that I’m hosting a reading challenge in her honor on my blog during June. Come by and check it out!


  6. I personally don’t own more copies of the same book, and lately I started to give away books as WanderBooks 🙂 However, I can totally related to the feeling of wanting a book because it’s very pretty or because it’s a more interesting edition!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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