Rare Books

The Folio Society's beautifully illustrated books

Standing like an island amid the sea of paperbacks and new releases from celebrities, is the Folio Society. Based in London, this organization is half publisher, half book club, and was founded in 1947 on the principle that books should be beautiful to the eye as well as captivating to the mind.

The Folio Society's formula for success is publishing books with exceptional typography, illustrations, paper and bindings. Their books are designed to be immediately collectible - certain editions increase in value after appearing on the rare book market. The Society sources new introductions from literary experts to accompany classic texts - from George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm to Neil Gaiman's American Gods - and uses skilled designers and master printers to produce memorable fine books. Fiction and non-fiction is published and you will be familiar with many of the classic titles and authors.

These books are often housed in beautiful slipcases. Sets and multi-volume editions are commonplace. The Folio Society takes a famous book and finds an expert to write a fresh introduction. It publishes books that are already winners - some of them like The Wind in the Willows and The Canterbury Tales have become iconic - but adds much more to the look and feel.

Editor's picks

The Folio Society has published Tolkien since the 1970s. The 2002 limited edition of Lord of the Rings, bound in black leather, is fantastic with 1,750 copies. In 2022, they released a new edition of Lord of the Rings illustrated by Alan Lee with 1,000 copies.
Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel has been illustrated by Sam Weber and also has an introduction from Michael Dirda, and an afterword by Brian Herbert. It is housed in a black slipcase with silver line illustration.
This lavish edition of Shirley Jackson's supernatural thriller has an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates. It is illustrated by Angie Hoffmeister with seven color images in the book including four double-page spreads. There is a wraparound binding illustration of Hill House and slipcase.
The Folio Society has published two editions of this classic novel by Mary Shelley. There's a 2004 edition illustrated by Harry Brockway and a 2022 edition featuring art from Angela Barrett.


More beautiful books

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The Book of Miracles is perhaps not the right name. 'The book of biblical drama and things we don't understand' may be a better title. This beautiful book about a book is published by Taschen. It contains a facsimile of a mysterious manuscript from the 16th century along with two modern essays of explanatory comment on the history, meaning and importance of this manuscript.
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