I'm a bit of a completist. Once I find something I like, I want more. For a time I want it all (usually until something else captures my attention – ooh puppies).
When I was younger I spent years collecting the novels of Michael Moorcock and Philip K Dick, which were fitfully in print. I'd scour secondhand bookshops for battered old editions, not because I was a cheapskate (I mean obviously I was: I was a kid and had to spend my pocket money wisely) but because secondhand were the only available editions. Any flea market was an opportunity to hunt out those rare and much-sought after titles I'd still to find. It took me years and even trips to America (post-pocket money, I should add) to accumulate a near-complete collection of the works of authors I had fallen in love with as a teenager.
Of course, the old way of going about things means that I've now got a collection of mismatched books of mixed formats and cover designs, with prices that can range from 20 pence to £20, and which are printed on paper that varies in shades from white to brown, or from yellow to mildewy. This never particularly bothered me. I mean it's the words that matter. As long as you can read the book (and in most instances I'm not going to be re-reading it) who cares? This is what I thought for a long while.
Then I started working in publishing. And that's when I got involved in the process. And started to work on books and authors that I really, really like. Authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler. And we'd schedule books and commission some wonderful artist to do the covers, and I'd scratch my head and write some appropriate copy that would grab the first-time reader.
And suddenly we'd have these wonderful sets of books. Sherlock Holmes. Philip Marlowe. Boys' classic adventure stories. Classic tales of the gothic and supernatural. George Orwell's fables. Beautifully designed complete sets. Books you'd buy for yourself if you didn't already have them (but you might anyway since your mildewy editions probably aren't hygienic enough to be handed down to the next generation). But, more importantly perhaps, books you'd want to pass on to people. To those who've yet to discover the magic and discover extraordinary new places of the imagination.
To wander the darkened, fog-enshrouded alleys of Victorian London because the game was afoot. To know what it was like to have a beautiful woman point a gun at you, and mean it. To listen to the night wind rattling your window and know that death is trying to get in. To be hounded across moor and mountain for a crime you never committed without a friend to turn to in your hour of need.
To that end Penguin have put together thirteen sets for Christmas. Yes, lucky thirteen.
One set is our Shepard Fairey/George Orwell twin poster and book set (this is strictly limited edition: two hundred sets of numbered and signed posters) for just £100. Four sets (Marlowe, Holmes, Adventure Classics, Gothic Classics) come with free posters and are heavily discounted. We also have discounted complete sets of Nick Hornby's, Jane Austen's and Charles Dickens' novels. The complete science fiction of HG Wells. James Bond in Modern Classic and Roald Dahl in Puffin. Lastly, we have a sumptuous new translation of The Arabian Nights in three-volume slip-cased hardback as well as Bill Amberg's leather-bound luxury classics.
Here's your chance. They're all available now – but they're limited and it's first come, first served.
So pick up these wonderful sets for yourself and get re-reading. Or get them for a friend or loved one.
Pass on a little bit lot of magic.